Miss Snark Eyeballs Guidelines from a Writing Group

To the gracious, witty and nitwit-intolerant Miss Snark;

I just received this bit of advice from an officer in my statewide writers' group. Your reaction to it would be appreciated, as I seem to remember some of this contradicts what I've heard from yourself and other professionals.

1. Use Times New Roman font when you print out your manuscript. It is universally accepted in the publishing industry.

well, ok, this won't hurt. The critical piece of info that's missing though is the point size. You send me something in 8 pt (or 24) and it can be TNR and I still will think you're a nitwit.

2. Do not double-side copy a manuscript to save postage costs (unless specifically requested to). It makes it harder to keep the pages in order and may annoy the editor/agent.

True true true.

3. Put a blank page behind a manuscript you are submitting. Otherwise, that last page of text may take a beating.

Can't hurt.

4. When you submit a manuscript that was requested by an editor/agent after a query or conference appointment, put the words Requested Submission on the outside of the envelope so the submission doesn't end up in the slush pile by mistake.

Can't hurt but I specifically ask for something else cause a lot of people thought they were going to cleverly avoid the slush pile the first time by writing that on the envelope.

5. Better yet, if a full manuscript has been requested by an agent/editor, send it via overnight mail. This conveys your belief that the document is important, separates it from the slush pile, gets it there faster, and is how most publishing houses send manuscripts themselves.

Guffaw. Um..most publishing houses aren't sending Miss Snark manuscripts. She's sending mss to them. And they go...get this...via bicycle. Overnight delivery is insanely expensive for paper. It's stupid for queries. It's stupider for manuscripts. This is not a lucrative profession for most writers. Don't spend your money stupidly on the equivalent of a low cut sequined halter top. Spend it on querying widely and finding an agent who loves your work.

And trust me, we don't need overnight mail to know you think your manuscript is important. I've yet to be queried by ANYONE who thought their work was unimportant.

To save face -- namely, mine -- please omit my name and instead sign me


Faithful Reader

well, ok, since I like your face and saving it seems like a good idea, but this wasn't even close to a nitwit question.


Anonymous said...

How much does it cost to have a ms messengered by bicycle? Sorry--don't live in a city, but am curious.

Anonymous said...
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Nick said...

Anything wrong with using Courier? That seems drilled into my brain for some reason.

December Quinn said...

I prefer Courier, actually. Neither of them are particularly attractive but Courier is less ugly, I think, and just as universally accepted (as far as I know-every guideline I've seen, when not specifying an altogether different font like Book Antiqua, says either is acceptable.)

I admit to using Priority Mail envelopes, though, simply to save the cost of buying an envelope and the postage rate was about the same.

I.J.Parker said...

There's absolutely no point in sending a ms. overnight, if you are still marketing it to an agent.
However, publishers (editors) do in fact send mss. overnight UPS or FedEx once the book is in production. Perhaps that is where the comment came from.

Anonymous said...

I've used the Canadian ExpressPost service, which is faster than regular mail but slower than overnight.

Its main benefits: insurance, and a way to track the parcel online.

wqmwt said...

I heard editors say with equal vehemence that both Courier and Times Roman are required in order for a manuscript to be professional--and have heard each side express startlement that anyone would think the other font more appropriate.

I think there's no one true way at the moment, but I do wish folks would stop making pronouncements as if there were.

(Well, except that formatting your ms in Zapf Dingbats is probably never cool. :-)

Elektra said...

I just got my $45 worth of stamps in the mail yesterday--$25 of it went out today in the form of twenty queries (with .63 stamps on the outside, thanks to the heads up from this blog), and one priority mail partial (which is probably twice as much as I needed to spend, but money saved would have immediately taken the form of gas to get to the post office). Now it's time to sit and wait, the worst part of the process...

Diana Pharaoh Francis said...

I just want to add that you might want to consider putting "The end" at the bottom of a full manuscript. I only say that because when I sent my manuscript into my first editor, it ended near the bottom of the page, and she wasn't entirely sure I didn't forget to put the last few pages or that she hadn't lost them because I forgot to put "The end" at the bottom.

The Rentable Writer said...

From what I've read, Times New Roman is just as acceptable as the more standard Courier. The reasons Courier is used are 1.) it's the same font as on old typewriters, and has kind of stuck around and 2.) each letter takes up the same amount of space, so it is very easy to estimate the word count of a 250 page ms. (1 page = 250 words, 250 pages = 250 x 250 = approx. 63000 words.)

Personally, I use TNR because I find it easier to read and I think Courier is boring. But that's just my take. I really don't think it matters which one you use, as long as it's printed well.

Usually that means: with nothing less than an ink-jet printer (lasers are much nicer and easier to read, thus they are quickly becoming the standard standard); on 11 x 8.5 bond white paper; double-spaced; name, address, phone number, e-mail address single-spaced at the top of the first page (I put my in the top lefthand corner), with each following page numbered, with the author's name and book's title somewhere at the top (I put mine in the center, like this):

TITLE/Name Ch. # Pg. #

I hope that helps someone. [If I'm wrong, Miss Snark, just delete this comment so no one gets confused.]

Annie Dean said...

>>Better yet, if a full manuscript has been requested by an agent/editor, send it via overnight mail.>>

Better yet, find an agent who really loves you and will let you e-mail stuff. Mine does.

kis said...

12 point TNR takes up less space on the paper than 12 point courier. That's why I work in TNR.

But really, in the computer age, how hard is it to convert even a large manuscript from one to the other? Spend an evening changing fonts, recentering the stuff that looks off, and redoing your page numbers, and anyone can have any manuscript in any freaking font they want.

Hell, if someone wants my book in 20 point Fajita, no problemo, I'll have it to them lickety split and just the way they want. Why all the obsessing?

Anonymous said...

What about italics?

I've been underlining words that should be italicized (according to "Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript") but have heard recently it doesn't matter - just italicize.

The Rentable Writer said...

I've been underlining, too. I heard it's better because it's easier for an agent/editor to see. I think this is the standard, but maybe that's just because I've been using it.