View Full Version : Dumb formatting question

lianna williamson
09-02-2015, 05:12 PM
So in an initial query, if you're including the sample pages in the body of the e-mail rather than as an attachment, do you include the title page? Do you put in a row of dashes or something to indicate the break between the query letter and the sample pages, and the sample pages and the synopsis? I'm having trouble visualizing how the e-mail is supposed to look.

09-02-2015, 05:27 PM
Not a title page, because the query will already say your name and the TITLE. I you have a chapter or section heading, I would put them in caps, left aligned, and then skip a space before the story starts.

When they ask for the full, then you can lay out the pages how you want (though I think it's a good idea to work with a format that translates easily to e-readers, because a lot of agents read on them rather than a computer screen. In which case I put 1.5 spaces between lines, go with TNR for a font, and get rid of the superfluous section or chapter pages. For that format, if you tend to end chapters and then start the next one on the next page, I'd get rid of the page breaks for the electronic versions you send out, because that can get annoying on an e-reader (or so I've been told).

Good luck!

09-02-2015, 05:30 PM
My emails have looked like this:

Dear Agent:


Per your request, the first five pages are pasted below.

Signature, with all contact information.

<A hard return or two>

Chapter One


09-02-2015, 05:30 PM
I'm not an expert but the way I've done it is my query letter first, then a space, and then I just wrote "sample pages:" and pasted my sample pages below that. I didn't bother with a title page--the query has my relevant personal information and I didn't see the need to clutter anything up.

Aggy B.
09-02-2015, 05:38 PM
I wouldn't put in a title page. I usually had the body of the query, then a return, a line (like this --------------------------), another return, then SAMPLE PAGES. I repeated that if the synopsis was included. And I always put the synopsis AFTER the sample pages just because those are really what I wanted the agent to see.

FWIW, when submitting the entire MS, don't try and format for e-reader. You would be guessing at how the agent intends to read the MS and you run a big risk of looking like an idiot since they are asking for Standard MS Formatting and you're giving them something else.

Best of luck!

lianna williamson
09-02-2015, 05:56 PM
Thanks so much for the quick replies! This whole process can feel so daunting and nitpicky. It's great to be able to ask people who have been through it. :)

Laer Carroll
09-02-2015, 11:42 PM
I think it's a good idea to work with a format that translates easily to e-readers, because a lot of agents read on them rather than a computer screen. In which case I put 1.5 spaces between lines, go with TNR for a font....

I read over 200 agent submissions when I began readying for the query process. Most asked for an email, two asked for queries via an online form, and one only asked for print submissions. Not one read anything via ereaders.

Some email readers allow print formatting but a lot don't. The safest choice is pure text, for some formatting commands display as weird characters. Most formatting simply gets lost, italics and underlines for instance.

09-03-2015, 12:30 AM
I have a row of dashes after the query and start with the Title Page (not as an entire page but certainly the Story Title and byline.

Then I get into Chapter One.

Email programs can sometimes be like Wprd styles and EAT hard returns, as I found to my horror.

09-03-2015, 02:52 AM
I wasn't as clear as I should have been. What I tried to say was that if you get a request for more, then (unless they say otherwise) send it as a Word doc. Kindles convert them easily (a Send-to-Kindle app) and it will stay pretty true to what the Word doc showed. So I do what I can to make that transition easy for readers by adjusting font and line spacing. Word is pretty much the standard these days, so even you use something else, make sure you can convert it to a Word doc, and then go over it and read carefully to make sure there aren't any formatting glitches.

Setting it up on the query is harder because Word doesn't copy and paste well with a lot of email programs. For those, I'd just use regular email formatting -- no indentions, space between paragraphs. To get there, I'd copy from Word tho text, and then paste the text. A real pain the first time, but then I'd keep a bunch of separate text files on my desktop, so I could easily copy and paste whatever the agent's submission requirements were.

Sorry for the confusion.