Why? Because Microsoft upgraded Word and wanted everyone to upgrade, too, and give them some money. However, they’re not the same file type and many devices can’t read them as the same file type, even if they are very similar.
Why do some agents care about whether you send a requested full as .doc instead of .docx? It’s not because we’re nerds, or we don’t have the latest version of Word (I know I do). It’s because of our e-readers.
Whenever I ask someone for a full manuscript, I tell them to please send me a Word doc file, then specify: .doc, not .docx. When the manuscript comes in, I forward it to my Kindle, then read it on my ereader. This lets me not only keep track of my full requests but it also helps me easily upload things when I’m on the go (which is a lot).
If someone sends me a .docx file, I can’t forward it to my Kindle and start reading. I have to go to my computer, download the file, make it into a .doc file, and then forward it to my Kindle. Why? Because Kindle doesn’t currently support .docx or .pdf files, only .doc and a handful of other ones that aren’t really relevant.
Now, some clever little bugger see my request for a .doc file, then look at their document and see that it’s in .docx format. That’s probably because they’re using the new version of Word, which starts every new file automatically as .docx. They freak out. “Wait! I’m supposed to send her .doc, not .docx, but this says .docx! What do I do?”
If they’re extra extra clever, they highlight the name of their file and just delete the x, so that their file name now reads: “BrilliantNovel.doc” instead of “BrilliantNovel.docx”. Brilliant, right?
No. Because .doc is not .docx. While they are similar, the formatting is just slightly different.
So when Brilliant Writer sends me their BrilliantNovel.doc (which is just called that, it’s actually a .docx file), and I forward it to my Kindle, I get a bounceback from Kindle saying that it’s not in a correct format and to please only send .doc files. Then I go crazy for five minutes thinking, “But wait, this file says ‘BrilliantNovel.doc,’ which should be right. Oh my, is my Kindle broken?”
And then I realize that the writer probably just changed the name on the file instead of actually changing the formatting. You would not believe how often this happens. And then I narrow my eyes and glare at the screen and wonder how anyone could do such a thing.
So this post is to make sure that you don’t ever do such a thing (whether for the first time, or again). When we ask for something in a specific format, send it to us in that format. If you’re looking at a .docx file and have no idea how to make it a .doc, don’t change the name of the file, as you are not also changing the format. Instead, do this:
- Open your .docx document.
- Go to the File menu.
- Select “Save As…”
- You’ll see a Save window. Make sure you’re saving to a location that you can find later.
- Then you’ll see a drop-down menu for Format.
- Select “Word 97-2004 Document (.doc)” (yours might say something else, but you’re looking for the “.doc” part especially)
- Click “Save”
Now you should have a document in .doc format to send to the agent who just wants to put it on their ereader. Voila! No tricky name-changing required.