Thursday, October 10, 2013

Question: Where? There? Huh?

1) What is your preferred format for manuscripts. Seems like a pretty basic thing but your post on where the page number should go shows that people seem to be all over the place on, well, placement. Things like which font to use, what the cover page should look like (genre, title, name, contact info), the margins (1" all around), how the chapters should be (typed numbers vs numerals), chapter start point (top of page or middle), or anything else that makes your job a little easier to do when you ask for a full manuscript. Most important, where does the copyright date and notice go? (Just kidding) Like I said at the top, I thought this was in a FAQ you already provided but I can't seem to find it now.

2) When do you use a numeral instead of typing out the number? I thought I read on your blog numerals for measurements (height, weight, etc.) and for numbers over 100 otherwise spell them out.

You're going to love this answer: I don't care.
No really.

When you include 3-5 pages in your query there aren't page numbers because it's electronic. There aren't margins. There's no cover page. There better not be chapters. And as long as the numbers are base 10, we're good.

On a full manuscript request, again, I don't care. Just make sure the info is THERE! DO number your pages. Do include a cover page with your contact details.

Industry standard fonts are TNR and/or Courier 12 pt but honestly in this day and age I can change anything you send to that with two clicks.

The stuff that makes me crazy is formatting done automatically by your word processing program cause I can't see it, and I can't fix it.

Turn all that fancy schmancy stuff off (like superscript for 3rd)

Any agent that gets her knickers in a wad about this kind of stuff is probably very old school. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just another piece of info you have about her.

Where formatting and style ARE important is when the book is sold and you have to turn in a manuscript that follows house style guides.

I think page numbers are in the lower right corner and your Name/Title are in the header section flush left on manuscript pages, but I've been taken to task for this by some pretty good agents so until I am Queen of the Known Universe (which frankly can't be soon enough) just make sure they're there, that's all.

The only time I got really cranky about this was when we were running a contest and didn't specify formatting on the novels submitted and ended up with a hodgepodge. It wasn't so much that everyone was wrong as it was they were not uniform.  


Lance said...

Excellent information. So these points would apply to queries as well. I have been thinking in terms of a letter format for my queries, and not thinking all the way to pasting it into an e-mail. Thank you for all this help.

Geekamicus said...

Thanks Janet. When you say "formatting done automatically by your word processing program," do you mean use hard tabs at paragraphs instead of styles to do it automatically? If so, I have some major editing to do.

Colin Smith said...

"And as long as the numbers are base 10, we're good." <-- ROTFL... I'd be soooo tempted to send you something with page numbers in binary. :D

Steven J. Wangsness said...

For what it's worth, Associated Press style is to spell out for number < 10 snd use numerals for 10 and over, unless at the beginning for a sentence.

Anonymous said...

Always good to reconfirm things are formatted right... I seem to be in line. At least with that.

Anonymous said...

My experience with querying agents (and submitting fulls) has been that some seem not to care about formatting, like Janet said, and some have very specific instructions for formatting, even in the query stage. I recommend that you just pay close attention to each particular agent's query (or manuscript submittal) guidelines and do what they ask. If they don't mention formatting, it's probably not all that important to them.

Bonnie Shaljean said...

Probably a dumb question but I can't find the answer anywhere: What e-medium should we send the full manuscript IN? Word doc (is Open Office acceptable?) or PDF, or what? This of course assumes that one has cleared the initial query + pages hurdle, and the person sending this attachment will be familiar to you.

Bonnie Shaljean said...

Or do you mean you want the entire novel just pasted into an email, same as the queries? I've never been clear on this... still working on needing to be...

Janet Reid said...

Bonnie, I believe most agents ask for full novels as attachments in Word .doc format.

That's how I do it. It's also how I submit novels to editors.

Bonnie Shaljean said...

Thanks so much for the clear answer (not to mention for telling me what I wanted to hear). Since we're on the subject of formatting, I have one other question which I have seen conflicting requirements & advice on.

I'm down with TNR12 in a Word doc, but I do also need italics. Can I just use Word's standard hot-key+I command, or do you want italic passages underlined instead? There seem to be differing preferences for this. I'm assuming (nay, praying) that italics don't count as Fancy-Schmancy.

I would also be grateful to know the answer to ‪Geekamicus‬' question. i.e. should we use individually-commanded tabs at paragraph indents?