Monday, May 22, 2006

Barbaro and I

I feel a strange kinship to this magnificent beast, which I attribute to the fact that both of us have injured ankles. Except that the poor horse has only a 50% survival rate due to the way his anatomy and physiology works. It's a true pity, and I really do hope he pulls through it, especially since his injury is way worse than mine, as you can see in the picture I have shamelessly stolen from the NY Times website.

My ankle is only sprained and has been so for the last two weeks, refusing to heal faster. Both Barbaro and I took bad steps; him on a racetrack and I walking down the stairs in my townhouse. I blame it entirely for my long hiatus from posting... I mean, doesn't everyone type with their feet? =)

Anyway, getting back to business, let's start off with a couple of questions that came to me via e-mail or the comments:

lon asks, via e-mail: At what stage of the submission process should an author add Dedications, Forewords, Afterwords, Acknowledgements, Appendices, etc.?(Basically all that stuff that isn't the story proper, but the author would like to see included in the finished product.) Should all this be attached when it goes to an editor/agent, or included the first time you send it after acceptance, or what? Are there any special formatting issues, such as page numbers that need to be addressed on the ms?

I personally feel that it's really amateurish to include such material with your submission to an agent. A foreword or an afterword could be included as part of the manuscript text, as could appendices, if it makes evaluating the book easier. But it really irks me when people send me their manuscripts with all their Dedications and Acknowledgments in place, as this usually isn't dealt with at all until the book has been sold for publication. Then it becomes an issue between the author and their editor, and the agent really doesn't deal with it tremendously. There are always, of course, exceptions to the rule. If you have written a biography of Queen Elizabeth II, and the Queen has graciously allowed you private access to documents and papers and helped you tremendously with the project, then it's perfectly acceptable to include an acknowledgement to the Queen with your manuscript, since she is in a sense endorsing your book. But if your great-uncle Bob read your manuscript, I don't really need to know about it.

In terms of manuscript formatting, I prefer the standards set forth here and here (click on the next page link at the bottom for the information). It makes it easier on my eyes, and when I have to send your manuscript out, it's already in standard format. For word counts, I don't mind if you give me the one from Microsoft Word, but be sure to round it to the nearest hundred or thousand words. I don't need to know that there are 92,054 words in your novel, since those extra fifty-four words don't really matter. =) You can just as easily say 92,000 words.

Harry Connolly asks: I have a followup to Laurel's question: How many of your clients came to you through cold queries?

With the exception of two of my clients who are friends of mine, and who are collaborating on one project, all of my clients have been pulled from the slush pile. It's the lifeblood of our business, literally.

The enchanting and enlightening post about query letters will come later tonight, but for the moment, I'm off to heat up my dinner. I'm also going to be adding some side links to the blog, including conventions and conferences that I'll be attending this year, and links to my clients' websites, if they currently have one.


Jodi Meadows said...

I type with my feet too. Glad to find someone else who does! ;)

Sorry to hear about your ankle! I hope it feels better soon.

And you're totally right about Barbaro: he's a beautiful, beautiful horse. I've got my fingers crossed for him.

Katey Coffing, Ph.D. said...

Ouch, sorry about your ankle, Jenny! DH and I have been out of the news loop while traveling, but we caught the Barbaro story on CNN Int'l. When I saw the race clip, I winced and turned away, afraid he'd have to be put down. I was glad to hear about the surgery. Good luck to him--and to you!

Vernieda said...

Sorry to hear about your ankle!

I've been obsessively following the Barbaro story. I watch the Triple Crown every year so I saw the Preakness as it happened. I think my heart broke because I know what they usually do to horses that have that sort of injury. I really hope he pulls through.

Harry Connolly said...

Thanks for answering my question. I was curious about the effectiveness of queries, and I guess they are even more useful than I expected.

Have you seen a doctor about your ankle? I "sprained" mine once while playing basketball, and after months of recurring pain, weakness and reinjuring it, I saw a doctor. As it turned out, I had a very small break that needed treatment.

James Dashner said...

Do you guys have any idea how funny it is when you really do try to picture in your mind someone typing on a laptop with their toes? Try it! It's hilarious.

Sorry about the ankle. I sprained mine a year ago and it took forever to get better.

I have a follow up question. I've heard hear and there that agents and publishers aren't as big on Courier fonts as they used to be, and that Times New Roman is just fine and actually more pleasant to read.

Your link clearly states that Courier is the preferred. But is that a life or death thing with you and editors? Courier just seems so, I don't know, ugly and old fashioned, like my Aunt Merle.

(Okay, that was cruel. I hope she hasn't picked up a nasty habit of reading agent blogs on top of her usual fare of Reader's Digest and TV Guide. Bless her pea-pickin' heart.)

Jenny Rappaport said...

I have actually seen a doctor about the ankle, who has assured me that it's merely sprained. Unless I have a hairline fracture, which is unlikely at this point, since it's been two weeks and it's not regularly swollen anymore... it's just sprained. This poor ankle, unfortunately, has gone through a lot. First it had a partially torn achilles tendon in October 2000 and then a grade III ankle sprain in October 2004. Both had me in a camwalker for months... so much fun! =)

Anyway, to anwer your question about Courier, James, I didn't prefer it at first, but it is actually easier to read because of the spacing. Publishers do take Times New Roman nowadays, but I personally don't like it as much. Anything that I personally write though, is typed in Arial; it's one of my favorite fonts. =)

James Dashner said...

I just realized I spelled "here" as "hear" in my last comment. I am mortified and embarrassed.

Thanks for your answer, Jenny. I have switched my font to Courier before, but then hated how it did some funky things to em dashes and the like. Maybe I should just type it that way in the first place.

I will type my next segment in Courier and see how it goes. Thanks again.

Long live Barbaro!

Lon said...

Thanks Jenny! You confirmed what I already suspected about all the add-on stuff. It's good to know my instincts were on the ball.

And as a guy with chronic severe arthritis in one ankle, I totally sympathize with you. ankle pain sucks.