Sunday, March 18, 2012

4th Update on the Liz Norris Pay It Forward Debut Novel Contest

So, you're trying to make me crazy right?

Is there any other reason you wouldn't double space your manuscript? I can see you in your Secret Writing Lair, logged in to the Secret Author Cabal online forum hatching up this plan of Agent Doom.

In fact, I googled, and there's a picture of it:

If it had been one or two of you, I would have chalked it up to novices, and thought no more about it.

It's more than 10% of you. And that's a lot when you're talking 400+ entries.***

Manuscripts are ALWAYS double spaced. The ONLY exception is if there is an instruction saying to NOT double space.  Double spaced is the default. The standard. The norm.

Right now, I'm doubling down on the scotch as I reformat.

And the next contest?  I'm going to make you run a qualifying heat in formatting before you get to enter. It's AMAZING some of the whackadoodle things you guys do in manuscripts.

***There are no disqualifications for format foolishness. Don't fret.


Bethany C Morrow said...

I don't know if anyone's said this yet but I know it can't just be me: these updates are awesome. It's super helpful while we wait, for some reason. Probably because we're used to obsessing by ourselves from our end only and in silence. :)

Colin Smith said...

If you are reading every ms, do you know how many pages that makes?

Assuming 400 entries, each at 80,000 words, and 250 words per page:

80,000/250 = 320 pages per ms

320 x 400 = 128,000 pages total.

And you're reformatting them too?! Now I know why you're closed to queries through the end of June! :)

Janet Reid said...

Colin, not all the mss are adult trade novels. We've got a good mix of middle grade books that run shorter.
And of course, some *others* (yes you writers of fantasy, I'm staring at you) who write longer, but I'm still guessing 50K is the average, not 80K.

Colin Smith said...

OK, Janet, so that makes it closer to a total of 80,000 pages. You're still a superstar. :)

Shelley Watters said...

Superstar, masochist, same difference. You're an angel-fish for doing this Janet! We just ran a agent pitch match with pitch +150 words) had almost 200 entries. I thought my eyes were going to fall out of my head after swimming through the slush to narrow it down to 60. Scotch. That must be the answer to keeping your eyes firmly inside your head.

And yes, having a qualification round definitely helped with the quality/training the entrants on how to format the entries.

*Swims off to find some spicy tuna*

Krysten Hill said...

Hey! I may be a writer of Fantasy BUT AT LEAST I DOUBLE SPACED.

Unless through all the attaching to emails, emailing, being opened and closed, then moved to Dropbox, my formatting got eaten.

But when I sent it, and when I look at it right now, it's double spaced. Who doesn't double space their manuscript? :S

Anonymous said...

oh my gosh. seriously? are you reading the MSs, too? I figured you'd blow through the queries as gatekeepers first.

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

I apologize on behalf of all the fantasy writers who skewed the word count average higher. My MS might be 105k, but it is double spaced! :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

These updates are what I live for. My God woman, when do you sleep.

And the winner is going to announced in what year?

Alaskan Ninja said...

Dear sir or ma'am,

I'm glad you're not talking about my 950 pages of comic sans bold with half inch margins. I was smart enough to use 1.5 spacing.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

My eyes twinge in sympathy for you, even just reading enough to format those into double spacing

A.J. Cattapan said...

You are very kind to reformat all those manuscripts.

When my sixth grade students email me assignments with formatting that is way off, I email them back and say, "Try again!" I won't grade it if the formatting is going to drive me crazy. (Does this make me a shark?)

Also, I have to admit I had the same ideas as "Lavender Writer" above. I thought the queries would be used as gatekeepers. Bad query=tossed manuscript. I'm also assuming that bad opening pages=tossed manuscript. Yes?

Barbara said...

You know, I love it when anyone uses the word Cabal.

Janet Reid said...

Yea well you guys can't write queries for shit and that's being kind. Honestly.

Which is of course why we asked for the mss. There are some DAMN good writers in this chum pool...queries not withstanding.

Jessa Russo said...

In defense of myself and anyone else who did not double space, I did ask on the blog as well as sent a tweet about this very thing. As someone who is very new to all of this, I didn't know which way to go with it. I hoped another writer would possibly answer the question for you, as I know you are quite busy. I'd be more than happy to resend, and you can trust that from here on out I will know what to do. :-)

Jessa Russo said...

Ps. I hope that comment isn't read as snarky. :-) Tone can be so easily skewed in print. Anyway, I'm just glad I wasn't the only one who didn't double space. I would have felt like even more of tool! Lol!

Jessica L. Celaya said...

wow, that must making reading the entries rather difficult. Good luck with reformatting all forty some of them.

Tara Tyler said...

hope all the shenanigans dont discourage you from doing another contest like this. at least you have this outlet for to vent during the process!

Lanette said...

Keeping up with the contest updates is fun. You must be crazy busy, but you're still keeping us updated. I'm sure there's a special ring of heaven for you.

Charley said...

Lanette - You're right. Deepest ring of hell is for traitors, and highest ring of heaven is for agents who read manuscripts despite every reason not to. Can't see how the real world could be run this way all the time, but it's so cool to see it once.

Janet - Hope those potential gems you're finding continue to entrance clear to the final scene!

Sarah said...

Bethany: You're not the only one. I am LOVING the updates.

Janet: Everyone else has already said it a bunch, but to reiterate: you're a rock star and amazing. I stick by that even if my ms gets cut. Thanks for doing this for us!

Jessa Russo said...

I'm coming out from underneath my rock of shame to share a funny story with all of you. (Especially you, Janet.)

I told my mom (my biggest fan, of course) about my single-spacing snafu, just so she could have a good laugh at my expense. Not only did she gasp in horror, but she then decided to tell me that there are all sorts of weird spacing issues in my manuscript. *WHAT!?*

Apparently some of it is single spaced and some of it is double spaced, though I have NO IDEA how or why. It looks fine when opened in Word on my computer, but something gets lost between my desktop and hers. Maybe it has to do with different versions of Word, I don't know.

Either way, as if I wasn't feeling shamed enough already, I now know that it was probably my manuscript alone that has led to our favorite shark buying stock in her favorite scotch distillery. Yikes.

John Lucas Hargis said...

- Fantasy writer...
- Didn't double-space...
- Sent a sketchy pitch (which has since undergone major revisions)

I'm toast. And, I'm an ass. Ass-Toast!

Heather Hawke said...

Hi Jessa. Your formatting problem is common. You can reveal all the formatting and laboriously go through the entire document. Or, try this quick fix! It works on the later versions.

If you have a mac, use command key instead of ctrl.

Save the whole thing elsewhere in case you mess it up. :)

Select entire document (Ctrl A)
Simultaneously, press Shift, Ctrl, N
Click anywhere on document
Ta Da! Now select entire document again and enter the correct formatting. If you have any sections with alternate formatting, you'll have to redo those.

Jessa Russo said...

@Heather THANK YOU! I will try that!

Rick Anderson said...

Dear Ms. Reid: Your kindness and attention to detail is both above and beyond my expectations! My most serious thank you!

Please start an account at the nearest Starbucks so I can show some gratitude. It is the least I can do.

Who is with me?

erica and christy said...

At first I thought I as in the 10%, but all's well on my side (as far as I can tell). But had to comment on your comment - way hilarious, thanks for it!

"Yea well you guys can't write queries for shit and that's being kind. Honestly."

lightfootosolage said...

Janet Reid I have been stalking your blog for a while. . . mainly because of quotes like these: "Yea well you guys can't write queries for shit and that's being kind."

Yes, I entered the contest. Yes, I am counting the days until you announce who won what and why. Yes, I will continue to hold all other agents I stalk up to your standards even you don't read my manuscript past the fifth page.

If it wasn't for this contest you probably wouldn't have read my name until my novel was published as you don't rep my genre. I, however, am truly a fan.

You and QueryQuagmire over on tumblr should do a reality show. THAT would be the only reason I would turn cable back on.

For all that you do, Me Gusta.

Jessa Russo said...

Well, I'm pretty sure you'll be dragging me out to the center of the village square for a good stoning soon.

I should be hiding in shame, but I don't mind sharing my mistakes with everyone - maybe I can help another writer feel better about themselves. Or have a good laugh.

As if single spacing my MS wasn't bad enough, I also got the page number location wrong, and worst of all ... no, seriously, WORST OF ALL ... I just found apart as "a part" in my manuscript. I bet you'll like reading that ALOT. Kill me now because I cant take the shame!!!!