Email Query Letter Formatting

This question about email query letter formatting and best practices for an email submission comes from Helen:

My question concerns a query letter sent via email submission. When an editor, publisher or agent requests email submissions with the manuscript cut and pasted into the body of the e-mail, Is there a way to keep the proper submission format? I have experimented with techniques and looked in help, but have not found a way to keep the formatting once I hit the send button.

email query letter
Preparing your email query letter? Don’t let email submission formatting woes keep you up all night…

The Only Email Query Letter Formatting Secret You’ll Ever Need

It is almost fruitless to stress about email query letter formatting. No matter what you do on your end, the editor or agent’s email client might just tinker with things on the receiving side. (If that isn’t enough to keep you up at night!) Do the best you can and remember the universal truth: we’ve most likely seen much, much worse in the email submission game.

There’s a lot of anxiety about the query letter and typos and formatting (like, a LOT of anxiety). Those are important and you should pay careful attention to what you’re doing, but, in the grand scheme of things, the writing is the star of any submission package and that’s what I’m paying the most attention to.

There are definitely considerations to email query letter format. Focus there. Otherwise, a great tip is this: Copy and paste everything from Word (or whatever) into an email and send it to yourself. Then copy and paste future email query letter versions from that email. Pasting from email into email tends to be a lot less wonky than pasting from Word (or another application) into email. This way, if your email submission test message contains any suspect formatting, you can see it and fix it before you submit more widely. (More on sending query letters to agents.)

If you’re looking to burn off some nervous energy, worry about the manuscript. It’s of paramount importance and the rest of this stuff slides like water off a duck’s back after we start reading. Just do your best with query, personalization, and formatting.

Hire me as your query letter editor and we’ll nail your pitch. Trust me, the content is much more important here than the format.

4 Replies to “Email Query Letter Formatting”

  1. If you’re really worried about the formatting, you can always use a plain text program like Notepad (usually found listed under “accessories” on the Windows start menu). It will strip all your formatting and allow you to put hard returns between paragraphs.

  2. This is something I’ve worried about too. No matter what I do (even using notepad), e-mail submissions end up looking scrambled. I’m glad to hear that good writing shines through anyway. [Now I know what to work on!]

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