We had a request for 50 pages. The pages end in a better place at about page 53 (12 font). We know not to send more, however, would changing the font to 11.5 from 12 be okay? The agent's site didn't specify 11 or 12 and I have seen both sizes. What should we do?
What an illuminating question, and by this I mean, illuminating for me, not you. I always wondered why manuscripts showed up in a weird font and 11.5 point. I assumed it was a platform conversion problem.
NOW I see it's clever little hands trying to be smarter than my Format key.
When you send something in ANYTHING other than Times New Roman 12pt font, I immediatly convert to that.
Often I end up with more pages than I asked for. I don't care.
When you send in a font like Courier I end up with FEWER pages than requested. Again, I don't care, but you should. If I ask for ten pages and you end up sending seven you are asking seven pages to do the work of ten. (Your pages will be unionizing soon if you keep doing that, and rightfully so)
Here's what you need to know: An agent says "send 50 pages" but what that means is "don't send the whole novel" and/or "don't send too little." Send enough so that I can see what you're doing here.
If the best place to end is on page 53, send 53 pages.
DO NOT SEND a cover sheet.
Don't send acknowledgment pages.
Don't send a page dedicated to "Chapter One and an epigraph"
Start where the first chapter starts. In an effort to "follow the guidelines" don't make an agent nuts: Don't break a sentence or a paragraph EVER;
Don't break a chapter if you can help it.
UNLESS you have a natural break in the chapter that lends itself to an ending.
And don't go haywire on your font: TNR 12 is the gold standard.
I sometimes get the idea that querying writers think agents are like the old style compulsories judges in figure skating. Those judges sometimes got down on the ice and measured the accuracy of figures the skaters were required to complete.
Agents are not like that. Querying is more like the interpretive section of the competiton. We expect your technical skills are up to par and we want to see what you bring to the program. We're not measuring your figure 8s and not counting your pages. You on the other hand are not falling on your asterisk and sliding off the cliff.