View Full Version : Formatting problems in query letters

07-16-2012, 09:18 PM
I just received a reply to a query I sent several months ago, and the agent quoted my original text. This hasn't happened before. In the quoted text, it's clear that either my email client or her email client messed up the formatting.

There are some accented letters, and they don't show up with their diacriticals -- they look like , *, and , with random spaces and hard indents inserted between characters. But even apostrophes and underscores are messed up. "Her father's" will come out as "her father’s" and _Book Title_ will come out as *Book Title*.

In short, I sent a professional query letter, and yet the agent received a letter that looks like it was written by a drooling lunatic.

Do you think this happens often enough that an agent will see it and say "ANSII coding issues" and ignore the problems? Or do you think I need to strip out any possible nonstandard characters ("smart" quotes, for instance)?

07-16-2012, 09:46 PM
Probably a tech question, but here goes:

Most agents probably see this on occasion, but the answer is to write in the native language of the agent and try to be 100% ASCII compliant. I get correspondence from outside the US like this frequently.

In my case, I try to never use Word to format email and just use plain ASCII text. It solves most of these issues.


07-16-2012, 11:21 PM
Yes, you want to strip out smartquotes and other non-standard characters.

I'm sure anyone who receives text pasted into email sees this on occasion, from intelligent people who do not see those weird characters when they test it by emailing it to themselves.

You can solve the potential problems by pasting first to NotePad, then copying from there. It's ASCII only.

FWIW, I've also seen this in self-published books, both print and ebook formats.

Maryn, shaking her head