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Submitting to Agent - How to format the email

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As a follow up to my previous question ( and thank you all for your guidance and responses to that!), after spending hours reading about proper formatting of a cover letter and manuscript and ensuring that mine are perfectly formatted, I see that I now have a problem. When I copy and paste these into the body of an email to an agent ( as requested by this particular agent vs attached), some of my formatting disappears. Some lines appear double spaced that should be single, and I am unable to change it. Ugh!  I am concerned that an agent might assume I haven't taken the time to read up on protocol, when actually my Word versions of both documents are perfectly formatted! Is this formatting issue commonly known about and forgiven?!?!
#1 - August 19, 2015, 02:44 AM

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If you first copy your text into a program like notepad, it will strip off the formatting. Go through and put an extra blank line between paragraphs as well as fix up any other oopsies. Then copy and paste it into your email program. Agents/editors understand it won't look the same as your original manuscript.
#2 - August 19, 2015, 05:16 AM
Laurie Wallmark
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If you can adjust the email formatting, great, but agents who request things in the body of the email know that some formatting isn't preserved. Double spacing versus single is not a big deal.

But you can probably correct it by making sure the formatting on your Word documents is very clean -- click the little paragraph symbol so you can see all your formatting breaks.

It's best to add blank lines and indents via document formatting rather than tabs and paragraph returns in Word in general. It will translate better to email, and that's how documents should be formatted for submission to your editor before typesetting, or if you are going to self-publish. It's a pain to correct it but if you get in the habit, it becomes second nature.
#3 - August 19, 2015, 05:20 AM
Kell Andrews
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Ditto to what both Laurie and Kell said--it's good to get into the habit of always making sure your word docs are formatted cleanly, but if you're concerned about anything you're pasting into an email, run it through something like notepad.
#4 - August 19, 2015, 05:30 AM
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Agreed on the above. I also send a draft query to my own secondary email address. That way you can see how it might look on the other end. A little wonky formatting is expected, but you want to make sure the agent will see paragraph breaks and whatnot.
#5 - August 19, 2015, 10:12 AM
Twitter: @MelissaKoosmann

To follow up on Melissa K, when I'm checking formatting I have sent it to friends who use different email programs (like yahoo vs gmail etc.) and who look at it on a browser vs Outlook. I have them a) tell me if there's anything bizarre and b) ask them to forward it back so I can take another look.

I also send it to myself and look at it on computer vs. phone. That's been really helpful as well.
#6 - August 19, 2015, 10:31 AM

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I was having a real problem copying and pasting from Word to my email. After much teeth gritting, here are a few things I figured out.
1. Use the right click feature & click "PASTE AS PLAIN TEXT."
2. My email program has a button to undo formatting.
3. When using a WORD doc, go to auto-formatting settings page, and un-check "use smart quotes/apostrophes. double dashes."
But after reading everyone's responses above--I'll just use NOTEPAD first before pasting. :flowers2
#7 - August 19, 2015, 11:34 AM

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Thank you all!
#8 - August 19, 2015, 05:34 PM

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I've been having the same doubts too. Thanks for the excellent advice! :)
#9 - August 27, 2015, 02:27 PM

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