Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Helpful suggestions for submitting a
requested full/partial via email.

Like several of my colleagues at FinePrint, I read manuscripts manuscripts entirely as electronic files. It saves paper and allows for carrying around a tremendous amount of reading material in about four ounces of metal and plastic. I take your manuscripts and turn them into .rtf files that I then load onto my Sony Reader.

Right now, on my trusty little Sony Reader, there is list of the following filenames for several requested partials in my eReader Pro program:
  • First50pages.rtf
  • FirstSixtyPages.rtf
  • Partial.rtf
  • Prepared for CLindsay.rtf
What do these partials all have in common? (Come on, now. Think hard!)

THAT'S RIGHT! Not one of the file names is even remotely close to the title of the actual manuscript.

Now, let's open one of those bad boys, shall we? What's this? A manuscript that jumps right into an action scene with gripping dialogue and fabulous writing?

"Well," says you, "What's wrong with that? Isn't that what you want to read?"

Theoretically, yes. However, said manuscript also contains none of the following very important pieces of information (Y'all ready? There WILL be a test afterward.):
  • The title of the book.
  • The name of the author
  • The phone number of the author
  • The email address of the author
  • The address of the author
So, in the interest of preserving my sanity (and hopefully increasing your chances of not annoying other agents with these surprisingly common mistakes) let me suggest the following tips for preparing a manuscript for an electronic submission:
  • First, submit in the format that the agent has asked for. Some agents will prefer an electronic submission as a Word doc or an OpenOffice doc; some will prefer PDF files or an RTF file.
  • Second, name your file in a way that makes it easy for an agent to identify the manuscript at a glance. A good format for naming your partial is something like one of these (these are all fake titles to follow, lest you think I am mocking anyone who's sent in a partial): STINKYBOYS ADVENTURE_PARTIAL.doc (title; indication that this is a partial); STINKYBOYS_LINDSAY_PARTIAL.doc (first word of title; author last name; indication that this is a partial). See how easy that makes it?
  • Third, make absolutely certain that the first page of your partial contains all of your contact information - phone number as well as email address - and the title of the book.
These three simple steps will ensure that everyone lives happily ever after and that world peace will indeed take place in our lifetime. Or at the very least, ensure that when an agent gets so excited about your partial that they want to phone or email you RIGHT THAT VERY MINUTE, they actually have the information required to be able to do so. (And then the world peace thing will happen, I swear.)

PS: Don't worry; I'm not going to punish anyone for making those kinds of mistakes. Mistakes are just mistakes, after all. But if I do need to hunt down your contact info, it just might take a little longer for you to hear back from me.


annathepiper said...

I only realized I committed this very faux pas after I sent my partial to you, of course. *headdesk*

Sorry about that. And I know better, even; I've done this correctly before. This is me, duly chastened, and only sorta kinda blaming this on the Martian Death Cold I've been battling all month. *^_^*;; Thank you for the gentle reminder!

Karen Duvall said...

I had to go back into my files and double check that I'd done it right. Phew. I did. 8^) You're lucky you didn't get my mother-in-law's phone number and my cats' vet's email address as well.

Spectre-7 said...

Check, check and check. *phew*

So.... something slightly offtopic. Let's say someone hypothetically sent you a partial around the 23rd of last month. How long (hypothetically) should this hypothetical person wait before contacting you to make sure it wasn't lost in the mail... hypothetically?

Curt Hopkins said...

Hey. Guilty of nothing, for once. Document title contains the book title, partial itself has complete contact info and it's in the right format. What do you know? Needed a win. Eep. Wait. Phone number's changed. Blew a perfect game.

Scott said...

Ugh. I had the filename right, and the title in the partial document, but didn't copy in the contact info. Doh!

My cat will never forgive me. They can smell weakness.

annathepiper said...

Scott, my error was exactly backwards. I didn't name my partial with my title, but I did have my contact info in there. Does this mean we cancel each other out? ;)

La Gringa said...

Anna - Now worries!

Karen - Good vet recommendations are always welcome! ;-)

Spectre - Hypothetically, you should be hearing from the hypothetical agent during the hypothetical month. ;-)

Curt Hopkins said...

And if spectre's hypothetical scrivener has already (though hypothetically barely) seen a long, sad month pass with only the wind howling through the breezeway?

annathepiper said...

Thanks, La Gringa, I will pay extra attention to my filenames next time I send out a partial. ^_^

Or a full, fingers crossed.

Very much appreciate the dispensing of clues!

Christopher M. Park said...

Good tips. I have an unrelated questions, actually. I sent my query just about a month ago (it did happen to have the word "adult" in the body) and have not yet received a response. Since you haven't posted query stats in a while, I'm not sure if you just haven't reached my query yet, or if it got ground to bits in your spam filter.

Should I (and other authors in my position) resubmit at this point?

Your blog is delightful, by the way -- I've been lurking for about a month and a half, and just haven't had anything worthwhile to comment until now.


Travis Erwin said...

Never thought of the file name being a problem. Thanks for the tips.

Jeff said...

Thanks for the tip! I never considered this before. Although I have my contact info on the first page, the name of my Word document is rather innocuous. I shall be mindful of this in the future.

Shannon said...

Speaking of queries and partials....where are you with emails? I sent a query last month. Just checking in...


cyn said...

thanks for the heads up, colleen--and not punishing the clueless. =X

Lis said...

Now I'm wondering how I named mine but am too chicken to go check lol

Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...


Please, Ms. Lindsay...


Please stick your head in Janet Reid's office and say "I just posted a blog which said some agents want partials in .PDF!"

I'll save you the trouble and call the biological clean-up specialists who wash the walls after a gruesome explosion of plasma and bone fragments.

(I won't go as far as to speculate which one of you may have previously hosted said DNA.)

La Gringa said...

Note that I said to see what your agent asks for. PDF files are huge and eat up a lot of server space. But one agent I know does prefer PDF files. Myself, I like .doc files. They're more easily converted into other kinds of files.

But anyway, the point as that you should probably ask if they don't specify a format.

Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

(Four minutes later and I'm STILL LMAO! You totally made my day.)

Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

BTW, PDF is a compression-based routine.

A user has to go out of their way to set the defaults to a resolution where the file size would exceed that created by a MSWord file.

PDFs are, by their very nature and purpose, smaller in file size. Not larger.

For the life of me, I can't figure out where the "PDF's are HUGE" meme springs from. I can only guess it comes from people who don't own Adobe Acrobat.

I just converted a couple of my novels to PDF using the default settings to run the specific numbers.

NOV 1 82K words
MS Works 895 KB
PDF 665 KB

NOV 2 80K words
MS Works 731 KB
PDF 642 KB

Joseph said...

Great advice. Sometimes it's the little details that get overlooked. It's great that agent bloggers such as yourself take the time out of their busy schedules to help budding authors succeed. Thanks so much for the insight.


Joseph John