Format Your Email Sample Chapters

This post is brought to you by
the one and only, Lisha Cauthen.

You can understand why agents/editors want First Contact with their potential authors to be through a safe, clean email. With the volume of correspondence they receive from strangers, the likelihood of viruses arriving in attachments is high.

Fine. So I took an opportunity to watch me a little Star Trek. First Contact. Get it?

wow. that's harsh.
wow. that’s harsh.

The manuscript portion of your email query should be single-spaced and indent-free. So let’s look at the not entirely obvious method of easily inserting manuscript samples in an email query:

    • Write your email query as usual, but at the end remind the editor/agent that there are three chapters or ten pages or whatever the guidelines call for embedded below.
    • Copy-paste the manuscript or portion of manuscript into Notepad. (For Mac users, I understand you can use TextEdit in plain mode.) What is Notepad? It’s a Windows feature that strips out all of the formatting, including hidden formatting. Go to your start button and search “Notepad”. It’ll come up.
    • Once pasted into Notepad, your text will be plain, single-spaced and indent-free. Go through and double-space between paragraphs. You will notice that chapter titles line up on the left margin. That is what you want.
    • After your query letter sign-off of SINCERELY, HOPEFUL AUTHOR, skip a few lines. Then insert the TITLE OF STORY by YOURS TRULY.
    • Skip another line or two, then copy-paste the plain text manuscript sample from Notepad.
    • At the bottom of the text, type END.

Easy, right? Good luck!

thx, jk.
thx, jk.

14 thoughts on “Format Your Email Sample Chapters

Add yours

  1. Lisha, Great post. To avoid going through and double spacing between every paragraph, in Word you can use the FIND & REPLACE feature. Type ^p in the FIND box & ^p^p in the REPLACE box. Hit REPLACE ALL & all the single paragraph returns will turn into double paragraph returns. Not sure if Notepad will strip those out. I don’t think it will, but it might be worth experimenting.


  2. This is great information! I so wish I knew this a few weeks ago when I sent out an email query with a manuscript in the body of the email. I just copied and pasted from my word document. Hope they don’t count it against me.


  3. Vulcans and Zephram Cochran can teach me lessons any day (of course, Glenn Corbett was the Cochran of my generation…LOL!)! Excellent reminder on how to keep your text clean in the query emails.


  4. There are suggestions floating about the internet that the MS part should be double-spaced. It’s all very confusing. I think I’ll go with your advice until of course the agent’s guideline says otherwise.


    1. Interesting. This is the method I’ve used since agents began asking for samples to be included inside emails, long ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. We shall see how it shakes out.


  5. Since I am honestly computer “stoopid” and new at this submission process, I sent off an e-mail with three PDFs…one for the query letter, one for the synopsis, and one for the sample pages. Was this wrong? I did not paste anything into the body of the e-mail. sigh


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