Friday, August 29, 2008

Answer for Anon.

Anon asked...

I like to be completely certain I'm doing the right thing when submitting and I can't find this particular detail on a lot of submission pages. When agents ask to include the first five pages of the novel in the body of the email along with your query, am I correct in assuming that they expect to see five pages as in Word, double-spaced with the first chapter beginning halfway down the page?Or, since e-mail doesn't use double-spacing the same way as Word does, do they want single-spaced? Does it really matter at what point on the page the first chapter starts? What about spacing between paragraphs, as is common when reading long texts on a computer screen?Thanks for your time.

Good question. We are assuming all pages of manuscripts are double spaced and standard 12 point font. The practice is also that each chapter begins about 1/2 down the page. If someone wants the material sent via email, generally the material is attached as a document and not embedded into the email (unless they tell you to do so). When you do this, I would always recommend sending it in Rich Text Format (.rtf) to insure everyone can open it.


  1. Anon, redux.

    Thanks for your answer! It's very helpful.
    Sorry for the follow-up, but I have actually seen many agents ask for sample pages in the e-mail body itself because of an aversion to attachments and the viruses they can bring with them.

    So in this case, I take it the paragraphs should be double spaced and the lines single spaced (due to the way different e-mail providers often interpret formatting)?

  2. If they are asking for it in the email then I seriously doubt they are struggling over the double space issue.

    It is still always good to ask though!


  3. Scott's interesting question, what makes your writing great? led me logically to the next question, which is just as difficult to answer- what exactly makes great writing, great? Hoo boy.
    The people that rule their genre, Gillian Bradshaw, Bernard Cornwell, Steven Pressfield, Gregory, all have one thing in common for sure-they are absolutely professional in their mastery of the English lanquage, and grammar, and have clearly spent years working on plot structure and character developement. More than anything else their writing is evidence of the kind of commitment to craft one can hardly imagine.
    And a fine Labor Day to all. Back to the Trail.

  4. Revenge/Bride/Son of Anon.

    Thanks for your answers!

  5. "If someone wants the material sent via email, generally the material is attached as a document and not embedded into the email (unless they tell you to do so)."

    Actually, I'd be careful about this. From what I've read, querying authors should usually include the sample pages in the email body, because agents are often unwilling to open unsolicited attachments. If they ask you for a partial or full, attachments are fine, but otherwise the agent is likely to be too wary of viruses.

    Obviously, this is not true of all agents, but I've read the no-attachments complaint on so many agent blogs that I'd make it a default practice to put sample pages in the email itself.

  6. I think the thing to remember is to carefully read what the agent wants. Every agent I speak to is VERY VERY CLEAR as to the expectations.