Tips/techniques for formatting "pasted" query chapters

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bigheadx
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Tips/techniques for formatting "pasted" query chapters

Post by bigheadx » May 3rd, 2010, 5:14 pm

Since many agencies now accept (if not require) email submissions, how do you go about pasting in that first chapter so that you avoid formatting errors caused when you copy from a Word doc (or other software) into the body of the email? Do you copy it all to a text file first? Do you even worry about the occasional stray extra space at the beginning of a line and the double-spacing between paragraphs? The loss of formatting like paragraph indents? Am I being too anal about this? ;)
Thanks!

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polymath
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Re: Tips/techniques for formatting "pasted" query chapters

Post by polymath » May 3rd, 2010, 5:43 pm

For what it's worth, there's an emerging online style, not standardized as of yet, but getting there. Some writers are putting together style manual standards for online and e-mail submissions.

The basics include unindented block paragraphs with an empty line between paragraphs, single line space. In other words, the same standards as the traditional full block (unindented paragraphs) business letter format. Eg, just like this post.

When I copy from my preferred word processor application and paste inline into an e-mail submission, the e-mail client handles the formatting. It automatically comes out right. I use WordPerfect and Outlook which are actually more compatible than Word and Outlook.

When I copy from a Word document, I first filter it through an ascii application to strip out the proprietary glyph and format coding of Word. I've had similar issues with other word processor and publishing applications, hyphens that turn into question marks, curly appostrophes and quote marks that turn into ligature glyphs, and other nonstandard glyphs. I've never had an issue with WordPerfect's cross application and cross platform compatability.

Another solution I've employed is setting the e-mail client to text only and using it like an ascii application. Some recipients prefer text only e-mail messages.
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bigheadx
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Re: Tips/techniques for formatting "pasted" query chapters

Post by bigheadx » May 3rd, 2010, 5:53 pm

Many thanks, polymath! I was planning to use Gmail for my queries but its plain text feature is, well, very plain. Going from Movie Magic's novel formatting software into rich text Gmail does the nice unindented paragraphs with empty line, but I'm also seeing some pesky extra spaces. Maybe I had better give my Thunderbird email software a try, too, or assume (hopefully) that agents and agencies are used to the occasional oddly formatted line (unfortunately, my Verizon login is a bit cryptic as to identifying me).
polymath wrote:For what it's worth, there's an emerging online style, not standardized as of yet, but getting there. Some writers are putting together style manual standards for online and e-mail submissions.

The basics include unindented block paragraphs with an empty line between paragraphs, single line space. In other words, the same standards as the traditional full block (unindented paragraphs) business letter format. Eg, just like this post.

When I copy from my preferred word processor application and paste inline into an e-mail submission, the e-mail client handles the formatting. It automatically comes out right. I use WordPerfect and Outlook which are actually more compatible than Word and Outlook.

When I copy from a Word document, I first filter it through an ascii application to strip out the proprietary glyph and format coding of Word. I've had similar issues with other word processor and publishing applications, hyphens that turn into question marks, curly appostrophes and quote marks that turn into ligature glyphs, and other nonstandard glyphs. I've never had an issue with WordPerfect's cross application and cross platform compatability.

Another solution I've employed is setting the e-mail client to text only and using it like an ascii application. Some recipients prefer text only e-mail messages.

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Re: Tips/techniques for formatting "pasted" query chapters

Post by daringnovelist » May 3rd, 2010, 6:01 pm

I tend to put in indents unless block style is mentioned in guidelines. I find the extra line of space between paragraphs in block style too disruptive with dialog.

Generally, I put in five spaces at front of the paragraph for indent. I also use underscores before and after to indicate underlines, however, this is risky as many email programs will interpret that as bold or some other form of emphasis. (This is one great way to force yourself to think if those italics are REALLY necessary.)

The other thing I ALWAYS do is paste the text into a plain text program (TextEdit for Macs, Notepad for PCs I think) to strip out any hidden junk. Then I paste the text into email from the plain text file.

However, I haven't sent any queries in a while, so I may be old fashioned. (Still, if it really matters, it will be mentioned in the guidelines.)

Camille

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bigheadx
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Re: Tips/techniques for formatting "pasted" query chapters

Post by bigheadx » May 3rd, 2010, 6:06 pm

Thank you, Camille!
daringnovelist wrote:I tend to put in indents unless block style is mentioned in guidelines. I find the extra line of space between paragraphs in block style too disruptive with dialog.

Generally, I put in five spaces at front of the paragraph for indent. I also use underscores before and after to indicate underlines, however, this is risky as many email programs will interpret that as bold or some other form of emphasis. (This is one great way to force yourself to think if those italics are REALLY necessary.)

The other thing I ALWAYS do is paste the text into a plain text program (TextEdit for Macs, Notepad for PCs I think) to strip out any hidden junk. Then I paste the text into email from the plain text file.

However, I haven't sent any queries in a while, so I may be old fashioned. (Still, if it really matters, it will be mentioned in the guidelines.)

Camille

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Tips/techniques for formatting "pasted" query chapters

Post by Nathan Bransford » May 3rd, 2010, 8:02 pm

I would really advise against indents - they're just not standard for email and you never know how they're going to look in someone's email program. Block formatting is the way to go.

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Re: Tips/techniques for formatting "pasted" query chapters

Post by bigheadx » May 3rd, 2010, 8:36 pm

After a couple tests and a few deep breaths I realized that if you edit/send as plain text you can't go wrong. Thanks for all the advice!

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Re: Tips/techniques for formatting "pasted" query chapters

Post by daringnovelist » May 3rd, 2010, 9:36 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote:I would really advise against indents - they're just not standard for email and you never know how they're going to look in someone's email program. Block formatting is the way to go.
Thanks!

I've never used them in the query itself, only the writing samples. (I've been trading manuscripts that way for many years, and never had a problem. I do it at the most base ascii level so there is no problem with "translation" of them from email program to email program, but not many people know how to do that these days, since so many programs default to rtf or html. I never ever ever allow html, or rtf, or other formatted styles in my emails. It messes too many things up.)

Camille

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Re: Tips/techniques for formatting "pasted" query chapters

Post by Nathan Bransford » May 4th, 2010, 10:18 pm

Oh whoops! I got mixed up and was thinking about the queries themselves, sorry. Indenting is fine for the sample, whatever works best.

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Re: Tips/techniques for formatting "pasted" query chapters

Post by daringnovelist » May 4th, 2010, 11:30 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote:Oh whoops! I got mixed up and was thinking about the queries themselves, sorry. Indenting is fine for the sample, whatever works best.
Okay, cool, so I wouldn't be shooting myself in the foot with that. (Phew.)

It has been a while since I sent queries and I hope to start again this summer or fall. I don't want to mark myself as hopelessly out of date. :-)

Since block-style works so well on a paper letter, I can't imagine not using it in an email query.

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Re: Tips/techniques for formatting "pasted" query chapters

Post by wilderness » May 6th, 2010, 4:31 pm

I would use block-style for the sample pages as well, if it is an e-query. It is simply far easier to read in an email. You can keep a separate DOC file with your sample pages formatted like this and then copy-and-paste it into the body of the email as necessary. Maybe it was a coincidence, but when I switched to block style for my sample pages I started getting more requests.

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