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Email query formatting

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Hello,

I have two questions. First, does anyone know how to preserve formatting, especially paragraph marks and indents, in a MS appended to an email query?

Second, if an agent directs you to send a query with 10 sample manuscript pages--but doesn't say whether they need to be in the body of the email, should you do that anyway, or is it all right to send an attached word file?

Thanks and Happy Halloween,

Gatz
#1 - October 31, 2015, 02:19 PM
SurfYourOwnMind.com, children's creativity blog currently in development.

In my post, the first question might be unclear.

It should read, "First, does anyone know how to preserve formatting, especially paragraph marks and indents, in sample manuscript pages submitted in the body of an email query?

Thanks
#2 - October 31, 2015, 02:23 PM
SurfYourOwnMind.com, children's creativity blog currently in development.

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Hi Gatz,

I'm not sure, maybe there is a way, but I haven't found it. I always paste my pages into the email, try to fix everything, then send it to myself. Sometimes it takes a couple tries to get it looking decent before it's ready to send to agent/ed. I don't spend too much time on it though. The writing will win out. I think they understand formatting might be a little wonky when pasted in.

And to answer your second question, yes, I'd paste in the body of the email unless the agent specifically says to send as an attachment.

Good luck!
#3 - October 31, 2015, 02:44 PM
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1. As far as I know, you can't reliably preserve indents in an email. I usually save my sample pages in a plain text format with spaces to indicate paragraphs. I cut and paste the plain text into my email query.

On my Mac, I save plain text files in an application called TextEdit. I believe there's an application called NotePad (if I'm wrong on this, somebody please correct me) that does the same thing on PC. It's also possible to save a Word file as plain text, but the only way I know how to do it is a little cumbersome, so I usually don't bother.

I have two email addresses, so generally I send a practice query to myself to make sure the spacing doesn't go wonky. I've never had a problem with plain text, though.

2. If an agent asked you personally for ten pages, it's probably fine to send an attachment. If the submission guidelines specify to send ten pages, then you should probably play it safe and paste them into the body of the email.
#4 - October 31, 2015, 02:49 PM
Twitter: @MelissaKoosmann

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If it's only ten pages, I include it in the body of the email. As far as formatting goes, I put it in Notepad first, then paste it into the email (as Melissa said below.)
#5 - October 31, 2015, 03:07 PM
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Thanks so much.

Gatz
#6 - October 31, 2015, 03:15 PM
SurfYourOwnMind.com, children's creativity blog currently in development.

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Just keep in mind that whatever you do, the recipient might view the email in a program that processes the formatting differently from the one you use does... So do the best you can but know you can't control everything.
#7 - November 01, 2015, 05:22 AM
Harold Underdown

The Purple Crayon, a children's book editor's site: http://www.underdown.org/
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I've read that agents/editors are "pros" at adjusting formatting when they've received a ms that lost its formatting, and furthermore, it takes little effort. I hope that's true.
#8 - November 01, 2015, 06:51 AM
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Einstein.

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When I was first querying, I worked obsessively to get thus right, which meant i sent the query to myself several times before I put the agent's email address in and sent.

Later I saw an agent tweet that she deleted queries with a blue line down the side--evidence that some lazy writer hadn't bothered to retype the query. I realized my queries had that blue line--and almost cried.

Send to yourself if you must, but then don't remove your address and forward on to the agent. :goodluck
#9 - November 01, 2015, 07:08 AM
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Re-type the query??

You're pasting text in an email, and then going in to clean up indents and such. I'm confused--oh, wait--you're saying the query itself (not the pasted ms) needs to get attention AFTER you've cleaned the ms text, yes?

Good information, by the way. Never heard of blue lines, and never would have guessed the untouched query would get detected. Holy crow.
#10 - November 01, 2015, 07:21 AM
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Einstein.

Dewsanddamps, what do you mean by "blue line"?
#11 - November 01, 2015, 08:36 AM
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I wouldn't want an agent who expects writers to retype each query. 
#12 - November 01, 2015, 10:18 AM
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The blue line shows up (in certain email programs) on emails that have simply been forwarded. The agent is apparently taking issue with having a query forwarded to her.

I use gmail for my emails, and I was usually able to paste directly from a Word document into my email, and the formatting was preserved. Unfortunately, formatting also depends on a recipient's email program, so I wouldn't stress too hard about getting everything just right. The more commands you add into a body of text (returns, spaces, etc.), the more places you have for it to go wonky on the receiving end. I suspect that Arona is right--it's inevitable for things to need to be readjusted, and agents are very capable of doing it.
#13 - November 01, 2015, 10:51 AM

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I generally use no formatting within emails, because it can get messed up in transmission and make things look worse. Just try to keep everything as simple, neat, and readable as possible. Agents are looking for a good story, well written, by an author who approaches them in a professional manner.
#14 - November 01, 2015, 11:02 AM
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I also keep formatting to a minimum, but I add line spaces between paragraphs. It just looks too weird to me without some break. Notepad and Wordpad both work, but make sure you don't end up with any of Word's "smart characters." They might not render correctly on the other end.
#15 - November 04, 2015, 06:53 PM
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