Surprisingly, for one like me who likes to do things "right", I hadn't actually taken the time to check how agents want the manuscript formatted. Sure, I knew all about the double-spaced thing. Everyone knows that, right?
There's more. Even in these computer-centric days, it seems Courier is still the preferred font. It's not pretty, it's not even a proportional font, but I guess if that's what you're used to seeing then everything else will look alien, and it's another example of giving what they want, not want you want.
So I've just spent the last hour reformatting the book to fit these guidelines. It might make no difference, but if it goes in front of an agent who has a simple filtering procedure - wrong font, discard - then at least it should pass that test.
And while we're on the subject of making an impression, a quick word on the Query letter. Considering I've just written 600 plus pages of the book, you'd think putting together a single page summary would be pretty straight-forward. Far from it. Apart from the challenge of condensing 115,000 words into less than 1,000 it needs to be something that also passes the "first glance" test.
Until now, all the queries have been formal and polite, business-like. That method hasn't been a complete failure, we have had some responses and are waiting to hear back from these people, but the more I look around, the more I realise that this is a case of having to make that first impression really stand out, and as we all know, you only have one chance to make a first impression.
So,with that in mind, the query letter had been completely rewritten. Of course, it still contains all the factual information (page count, etc.) but in a more "grab you by the scruff of your neck and demand attention" kind of way. At least, I hope that's what it does.
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. I'll be doing some more submissions this weekend, we'll see what comes of them.