5.18.2006

After, of course, after!

After (of course, *after*) sending my query to an agency that said "Email Query Only," I realized that the italic fonts from my email program didn't follow through - even though I chose send with HTML . I discovered this faux pas because I BCC'ed to my home email account to have a copy.

Instead of italicizing my titles, it puts slashes around them /My Title/. So now, do I look like a complete nitwit? Is there a chance they will understand it is an email snafu (although, yes I should have double checked before sending)?

Thanks. I'm going to drink gin into nitwittery oblivion.



Since I do not do anything to email queries other than sneer, I'm probably not the best source of info about how agents view "typos".

I will say this though: since you have no idea what program someone is using on the other end, anything other than plain text can get garbled. I know this from the email I get from y'all with questions. You would not believe the black dots, quotes out of place, weird ass stuff that arrives in your emails. I think it's from the cut and paste stuff.

Obviously the answer is to check first (as you yourself pointed out). Someone could make a fortune offering that service: "Send me your query, I'll tell you if you have format problems".
(which beats the hell out of threatening to kill the dog for money on this site)

23 comments:

zdaddyo said...

Don't send HTML email. You can not know if the recipient has an email reader that reads HTML. Don't sent rich-text formatted email. You can not be sure that the recipient has an email reader that understands rich-text. Send email using plain ASCII text. No mess. It works. Always.

Jeff said...

You got it all wrong, Miss Snark. Jack's going to off himself. Famously.

Rei said...

Even ASCII can have problems. My email client has problems with inserting linebreaks where it shouldn't.

krw3b said...

AgentQuery.com suggests using all caps for titles (in e-queries) for just that reason. Look under Formatting Tips.

M. G. Tarquini said...

I know, I KNOW the answer to this!
*waves hand frantically*

1) CAPITALIZE the title of your unpublished masterpiece.

2) Pop your query into a plain text editor before cutting and pasting it into your email program. That will strip it of all weird formatting.

3) Send it to yourself first. Make sure it doesn't look weird. Check out what it looks like in several email accounts. Send it to friends at various kinds of email accounts and ask them if it looks funny.

I went through agony and kept a very nice and very patient editor up for a couple of hours trying to submit a flash fiction in email. It kept truncating. I sent it from different email accounts. I recopied it, repasted it, scanned it, baffled as to why my flash fiction hated me so much.

The editor graciously offered that I could send an attachment. But nooooo...I'm stubborn and I'm going to work it out. Dammit.

Finally. FINALLY. I found the obscure bit of weird formatting code that was still showing up in the plain text version. I sent it to the bleary-eyed saint at the other end of my email.

He's still even talking to me.

litagent said...

It's just a query. I see enough goofy things in email (like &@%# in place of an apostrophe) that I understand it's just an email glitch. It's not as if one has to read the entire manuscript that way, which would definitely be annoying. I wouldn't worry about it, or to be safe, capitalize titles as has been suggested. I don't see it as a big deal.

Bernita said...

Some specify which format they are equipped to receive, Zdaddyo.

Anonymous said...

I did the *send in both plain text and html* option on this supposed fancy work email client.

Well, lesson learned about the send to self first and the capitalization of titles!

And thanks litagent :-) Hopefully, they will be dazzled by my non-nitwit query that the typo will slide by. :-)

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I do business on the Internet. Some of the mail I receive is oddly formatted. I do not know if it's my Eudora messing up or if it's the sender's email program.

As long as I can read the text, I'm happy. I can't imagine an editor or agent who has any sort of Internet experience being upset at format. It's easy for the recipient to reformat.

Great writing (something I seem to be incapable of) will get you published. A messy email format? I don't see that as much of a problem.

archer said...

This is why God made PDF. Perhaps just for us.

kitty said...

I submitted a story to the Sloppy Seconds With Opal Mehta contest. I had to cite everything, which I did with footnotes. I did the footnotes in numbers -- 1,2,3 -- and when I copied'n'pasted them into the e-mail and hit send, they morphed into Roman numerals en route!

Anonymous said...

Macs to PC have problems also, I know cause I have a PC at home and have sent stuff to work and it show up looking odd. So I just dump my text into my email. No attachment. I would seriously think twice about sending an email query to an editor or agent just because of the problems I have had at the newspaper.

Courtyard Sqaush said...

When using italics or underling in an e-mail of this importance, write like this: _Book_Title_

zdaddyo said...

Obviously, if an agent says send it to them in EBCDIC, you send it in EBCDIC.

If they do not specify a format, ASCII is the way to go. It will work.

Rei, an email client that inserts linebreaks where it should't is broken. My guess is that people are manually inserting linebreaks into their texts which is what is causing extra linebreaks.

Anonymous said...

Um, total noob here, but wouldn't it make sense to send queries and whatnot as doc or pdf attachments? The format would remain perfect.

Dave Robinson said...

It's never a good idea to send things as attachments. Most malware comes that way so a lot of people have things set up to strip all attachments.

Plain text is always the best choice unless otherwise specified.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous -
No attachments - most agency websites say they will not accept attachments - viruses and what not.

Mama Rose said...

Noob Anonymous: Never send an attachment. Your email will get deleted unread, unless the recipient is totally clueless about computer security.

Linda

spaulson said...

Third anon: Agents and editors don't open unsolicited e-mails that have attachments, due to the possibility of viruses.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Noob anonymous, don't we wish we could send as attachments. But virtually zero agents accept e-mail attachments for fear of viruses, possibly from angry rejected writer-slash-computer-programmers. :-)

So, we continue to struggle with cut and paste, and hope for the best.

Kendall said...

Generally attachments aren't preferred (virus fears, company e-mail software blocking them by policy, non-software-based company policy, larger e-mails, software compatibility, etc.). IANAA (I am not an agent), but I loathe receiving an attachment for what is, basically, just plain text. If it's basically text, then don't send a file. Also, attachments are okay between friends, but not strangers (unless the stranger says "send me an xyz file").

Re. selecting "text & HTML" - that is the only way one should send HTML e-mail to anyone, anywhere. However, if the recipient's e-mail program believes it can handle HTML, then usually it will ignore the plain text and try to use the HTML. That doesn't mean that your e-mail program's sending a well-formatted MIME e-mail or proper HTML, and it also doesn't mean the recipient's e-mail isn't delusional. (Some software might have an option to view the text version even if it tries to show the HTML...but if present, that's generally an obscure feature.)

Tom said...

Everybody's focused on the technical aspect of Miss Snark's post, but did anyone look at the link, literarybeggar.com?

Is this what we're reduced to? Begging on the Web for sponsors because the big cruel publishing world won't print our stuff?

kis said...

Shit happens in cyber-space--I wouldn't worry about it. Now, when you mail your full to an agent, and find the SASE hiding on your desk amid the packing materials the next day, well. . .(blush)