Query email format?
September 17, 2009 8:55 AM   Subscribe

Should I maintain double spacing in an agent query email? Submission guidelines ask for the first 5 pages of my manuscript. How faithful should I be to the actual document?

Hey there all, I just wanted to get some backup on this. I am sending a query to an agent and his submission guidelines ask for the first five pages, pasted into the body of the email.

If I was sending a copy of the manuscript in Word format, it would be double spaced. Should I send the 5 pages in the email in this format? It would be nice to get a little more content in there by single spacing it in the email, but I don't want to annoy him.

So, should I a) double space it and send the first 5 actual pages; b) single space the same content as a); or c) send 5 single spaced pages?

I kind of think the answer involves sending the content of 5 double spaced pages, I just wanted to see if anyone had any on the ground experience with this.

Thank you very much!!
posted by bobbyno to Writing & Language (4 answers total)
No, don't try to create five "pages" in an e-mail. Just use the words. He means "the contents of the first five pages", or about 1500 words (broken somewhere useful, like a paragraph). Reformat it to look like a normal e-mail, with no returns at all except for paragraph breaks. In other words, as if you typed it into the e-mail.

You'll probably want to use double returns (like your question here, and my answer), so that your e-mail looks the same as this AskMe. That's the convention in ASCII, it's easiest to read in plain text, and it's much-preferred to such things as tabbed-in paragraph heads.

In my humble opinion as a semi-pro reader and writer of words, anyway.
posted by rokusan at 9:00 AM on September 17, 2009

It depends. I have sent out a lot of queries. In general, I would agree that we are talkiing "the content of 5 pages" here, and it seems unlikely that anyone asking for this would not understand that e-mail programs oftencommit all sorts of atrocities on pasted-in text.

OTOH, if you are anal about it (and I usually am), I would paste copy from the ms in there, then save the e-mail as a draft, then re-open it and see what the program did to it, in hopes of being able to edit it as closely as I could back to the way it looked in the manuscript.

All in all it's more sensible to accept attachments, of course, but not all agents do. So you are at a bit of a disadvantage when they ask for it pasted into the e-mail body.

And you have your 1- and 2-page synopses all ready as well, yes? And maybe even a logline? Sub list? First two and three chapters saved off as seperate files? First ten pages, too?
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:07 AM on September 17, 2009

What was said above.

Rather than thinking of it in specific formatting terms, think of putting it in the easiest possible format to read. In terms of a long manuscript (particularly if someone might be making notes on it), this is double spaced. In terms of an email, this is similar to your post--single spaced, defined paragraphs, etc.

Consider not only saving as a draft and reopening, but seeing what it would look like as an HTML email, as a plain text email, and as either of those printed out.

He might likely copy and paste to put it onto an ereader as well, so keep that in mind.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 9:54 AM on September 17, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you very much guys, that's what I needed to know.
posted by bobbyno at 10:16 AM on September 17, 2009

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