Do As You're Told

My agent told me to remove the underlines in my manuscript that indicate italics and to just use italics. I have absolutely no problem doing this because I graciously accept my low position on the snark pole, and I know he knows more about this than me. But this underline/italics thing is contrary to everything I've read about manuscript format. Miss Snark, what's your opinion? Is there a hard and fast rule in this regard? Do you advise your clients to underline to indicate italics or to avoid such? Or, does this depend on the editors you're submitting to?

Thanks in advance .

Do what your agent tells you to do.
Do not under any circumstances tell your agent that everything you've read or Miss Snark says he's wrong.

The reason you HAVE an agent is so you will have information about how to do things for the editors he's sending stuff to.

Even if Miss Snark says she asks all clients to "submit on papyrus in gentian colored ink while whistling Parsifial" it would matter not a whit. Miss Snark is not your agent.

Do What Your Agent Tells You To Do.


Maria said...

For short story submissions, every magazine/editor seems to have a different preference on the "use Italics" or "use underline." You just follow whatever guidelines are out there for wherever you are submitting. It's probably the same for books--some editors might like to read it one way, others might want it the other. Hopefully your agent knows the editor's preferences.

Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

Interesting point brought up here, and one I wonder about. I completely understand why agented authors who are having doubts about the author/agent relationship, or who suspect they may have been scammed, would come here (or to other forums) to ask questions. However, I'm constantly amazed by how often authors will post questions that they should be asking their agents. Asking total strangers why they haven't heard anything from their agent in, say, two weeks is just absurd. Same thing with questions about the submission process, formatting, etc. It's nice to know we're not alone, but honestly, I think that for some people the Internet and all this immediate feedback - no matter how Snarkalicious - has somehow taken the place of actual conversation. With the people who we ought to be communicating with, because it's their opinions that matter. Not Anonymous or Miss Snark or Agent whatever-her-name was. (Again - not taking away the good things that Miss Snark and her cohorts have done.)

Dave Kuzminski said...

My guess is because so many manuscripts are now available in electronic files, the agents and publishers are beginning to recognize that it can easily be reformatted to whatever is needed.

Bella Stander said...

"However, I'm constantly amazed by how often authors will post questions that they should be asking their agents."

Good point! I'm constantly amazed myself. I suppose it's for the same reason that people write to Ask Amy and her myriad colleagues for relationship advice instead of, you know, just talking to (or running far away from) their significant others.

Anonymous said...

I think that if we're addicted to this blog (which I admit, I am) we think, Hey, I can get my question answered without being the Annoying Bug Writer that agents hate.

The other day I was asked to take part in an anthology. I wondered if it was all right to use a portion of my unfinished and unpublished manuscript. What would Miss Snark say? I asked myself, and then realized that it was much more important to ask my agent for his recommendation.

Anonymous said...

Do as Miss Snark said and listen to your agent, who not coincidentally happens to be right.

Remove the underlining. It's confusing, not helpful, to the editors and compositors who come after you.

Italicize what you want italicized.

Mark said...

I never liked the idea of underlining anyway and so never did it. It seems like an old typwriter code to me, a remnant.

Anonymous said...

Melanie, I think that if Miss Snark chooses to answer the question, and does not call the questioner a nitwit, then the question is legitimate. Please remember that it also educates the rest of us - not all of us are as familiar as you might be with the mysterious world of agenting and publishing.

Please don't try and put people off asking what might seem to you to be stupid questions. Some of us learn from them.

I also think that if it's a really inane question it either doesn't get answered, or the Nitwit of the Week award finds a new home... I think that we ought to let Miss Snark decide.

Always learning said...

If you've already answered this I apologize, but what do you think of writers posting their first chapter on the net (of uncontracted works). Thanks.

Bernita said...

Thank you, last Anon - about questions.
My sentiments too.
Let Miss Snark decide if we're idjits.

Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

Well, I hope I didn't imply that anyone was an idiot for asking questions; that wasn't my intention at all. My worry, though, is that sometimes authors seem fearful of talking to the people who, after all, have the greatest stake and interest in their careers - and who have the only opinions that matter on certain subjects (like the original question). Sometimes I wonder WHY people go to so much trouble to get agents if, after they do so, they're afraid to actually talk to them or take advantage of their insight. That's the impression I get, sometimes.

Jen said...

In a contest I have worked with for two years, they changed the rules to allow for using italics instead of strictly underlining because of the ambiguity/changes that many people have encountered.