Thursday, March 10, 2016

Who Cares About Formatting?
The Queen of Resilience
by Debbie Hardy

Who Cares About Formatting?

If you’re a writer, you’ve probably heard about standard formatting for manuscripts:
·       Times New Roman  
·       Font size 12
·       Double spaced
·       Indent first line 0.5”
·       1-inch margins all around
Yada, yada, yada.
So what difference does it make? Well, there are several reasons for standard formatting.

1) We like what we like, and the familiar is comfortable. Agents and editors are no different. They prefer submissions look the same, even if the words are different.

Have you ever noticed that envelopes and paper come in standard sizes? Even magazines and books are shaped basically the same – rectangular, bound on the left. I think if someone printed a magazine with the binding on the right, people would refuse to buy it.

2) It’s easier to skim a proposal or manuscript if our eyes are accustomed to the format. Have you ever filled out an application for a job or a loan? Those forms are set up so everyone who applies has the same opportunity to fill in the same blanks. Again, it’s easier for the hiring manager or loan officer to peruse the form, knowing where to look for certain information.

Same thing when you submit. A cover letter, query, or proposal is expected to have certain paragraphs and specific information. When it doesn’t, the recipient has to work harder to find or get that info. An agent can get up to 100 submissions a week, and you want yours to be easy to read. Don't reject yourself from the start.

3) An agent or editor is looking for writers who will work WITH them, not AGAINST them. If the writer refuses to follow instructions when they submit, it’s likely they’ll be uncooperative later during the editing and publishing process.

When you’re “hired” into a job, you’re stuck with whoever is in the next cubicle and whatever boss you get. But we are fortunate to be writers; ours is a business of relationships. We write to connect with our readers, and we can choose to work with only people we like. Agents can too!

I met my agent, my editor, and my publisher at writers’ conferences, where we spent a short time together and decided we could be friends and we signed contracts. My agent has told me many times that he wished all his clients were as cooperative as I am. It would make his job much easier.

So that’s my tip – give your agent or publisher what they want, and they’ll be happy. That includes something as simple as formatting.

1 comment:

Jennifer Goble said...

Clever take on formatting! Fun read and oh so true.

Share a Post