Friday, November 1, 2013

The Great Literary Agent Race, Part 7

Before I sent out my queries and submissions per the agents' guidelines or specific requests, I did some incredibly mundane crap.

First, I checked my manuscript formatting. There are websites and blogs on this. I think I relied a lot on, but I also used,, and a few other sites.

Ultimately, this is the formatting I used for the manuscript of 'Client Relations:'

TNR 12 point, double-spaced
Title page
   Upper left align -- single space, separate lines: my name; address, telephone; email
   Upper right align: Word count, rounded to the nearest hundred
   Double space down six times, center align:
          TITLE (all caps)
   Then one double space, center align:
          By: (initial cap)
   Then another double space, center align:
          Author's Name
Page break
Now for the actual manuscript, that starts on the next page after the title page -
    Page 1: Start page numbering here, but no page number or header on this first page
    After page 1: Headers on every page
          Upper left align: Weiss/ CLIENT RELATIONS
          Upper right align: Page x
Before every chapter, including chapter 1:
   Start each chapter on a new page
   Skip six double-spaced lines down to insert the chapter title, even if it's just a number
   Skip three double-spaced lines down to start the text

After the drudge of formatting? Spell check the damn thing! You're probably so blind to the book, even after all your beta readers etc., that you can't see any goofs, right? So then save the spell-checked version as a new document and compare it to 'final' version. Do that about another ten times. : O

How boring is all this? I know, I know, it made me totally crazy, too. But the look you'll give your manuscript when all this is done will be so awesome. You'll look like such  a professional! Which is, after all, what you want to be.

That's why you want an agent in the first place.

Keep telling yourself that as you view the document in full page mode for the twentieth time, and find all the places where a new chapter begins six double-spaced lunes down on the same goddamn page as the last one.

Okay, still awake and with me?

Using my query list to check off whom I had queried and what I needed to do (send pages, mark them off as 'no response' or rejected, etc.), I went to each agent's website to check their submission guidelines. Unless I had received a request for pages, and a personal email address from the agent (either at a conference, Query Roulette, or a webinar), virtually no agent will open any attachment.

That means copying and pasting your query and the first whatever pages or chapters of your  work - exactly in accordance with THAT agent's guidelines - into the body of the email. Then check the block-and-paste job in the email for spacing, para tabs, etc. in the text of your email Yeah, after all that formatting grind I just told you to do.

Because, trust me, if the agent wants the whole book, you'll be so glad you did such a professional formatting job.

And try to quadruple-check that Agent A doesn't get Agent B's letter (sigh).

More to follow...

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