Dear literary agents and publishers,
I have a question.
These days most of you want queries and sample pages of our writing to be included in emails; attachments will not be opened. This is stressed not only on your websites but when we see you at conferences and workshops. Also stressed — that our work be perfect before even thinking of sending it to you. Perfect not just in grammar, punctuation, character consistency, non-cliché language, plot curve, and all the other mandates of a good book, but also in FORMAT.
Here is where the trouble rests. We authors spend months, nay years, perfecting our written work only to see it undone by copy and paste. Email programs don’t seem to place the same importance on format as you, or I. Once pasted the original format is forgotten.
Some paragraphs are indented, some are not.
Some of the indented graphs are ten spaces in, some are only one, or three, or any other number.
Some paragraphs are in the original font, some have been mysteriously transformed.
To quote the Kind of Siam, “Is a puzzlement.”
Internet solutions all lean on the “rich text” formatting in the email options. These do not work.
There is still no consistency.
So, we authors must deal with each paragraph in the email indenting or
not indenting as the choice may be, changing each one individually.
When emailing a query plus fifty pages it becomes a frustrating experience, not to mention the amount of time it requires. Then there is the nagging suspicion that the email, once sent in the correct format, will arrive completely jumbled again.
So, here is my question for you, overworked literary agents and publishers: How kind are you? When reading an email that deviates in its paragraphing, haphazardly changes its font, do you sigh and delete? Do you wonder as you shred those pages your assistant printed out, shredding the author’s dreams as well, if you are turning the next great novel into confetti?
Or do you take pity and read on?
Tortured by Email