Well, so much for predicting how tired I would be: the very day after I said I didn’t want to abandon you all in mid-title page, I found myself too wiped out to do my promised next post on title pages. Mea culpa — but I think I shall be taking the next few days off from posting, until I figure out how to integrate it with the masses of sleep I seem to need at the moment.
Let me move on to the second style of title page quickly, though, while I am fresh from a nap.
Last time, I mentioned that there were two formats commonly used in professional title pages. The one I showed you last time, what I like to call the Me First, is actually rather more common in submissions to agents than submissions from agents to editors, but it is certainly acceptable.
While the Me First format is perfectly fine, the other standard format, which I like to call the Ultra-professional, more closely replicates what most agents want their authors’ ultimate manuscript title pages to look like. Take a gander:
Elegant, isn’t it? And yet very market-oriented, because all of the requisite information is so very easy to find. Here is a downloadable version of the same, for those of you who would prefer to have it on hand.
I probably don’t need to walk through how to construct this little gem, but as my long-term readers know, I’m a great believer in making directions as straightforward as possible. I like them to be easy to follow in the ten minutes after an agent has said, “My God, I love your premise! Provide me with the manuscript instantly!” Call me zany, but on that happy day, I suspect that you’re going to have a lot on your mind.
So here’s how to put this little gem together. Set up a page with the usual standard format for manuscripts defaults — 1-inch margins all around, 12-point Times, Times New Roman, or Courier — then type in the upper right-hand corner:
Book category (If you’re unclear on what this is, are tempted to vacillate between several, or resent having to categorize your complex book at all, believe me, I sympathize — but please see the BOOK CATEGORIES category at right with all possible speed.)
Estimated word count (If you’re unclear on the hows and whys of estimation, please see the WORD COUNT category at right.)
Skip down 12 lines, then add, centered on the page:
(Skip a line)
(Skip a line)
Your name (or your nom de plume)
Skip down 12 more lines, then add in the lower right corner:
Your real name
Line 1 of your address
Line 2 of your address
Your telephone number
Your e-mail address
As you may see from the example, it looks nifty if the information in the top section and the information in the bottom one share the same left margin. Since some addresses are longer than others, using this format results in that left margin’s being set at different points on the page for different manuscripts. While Flaubert’s address is short, Edith Wharton’s is not, producing a cosmetically altered title page:
Again, there should be NO other information on the title page, just lots and lots of pretty, pretty white space. After you sign with an agency, your agent’s contact information will appear where your contact information does.
That’s it, my friends – the two primary options you have, if you want your title page to look like the bigwigs’ do. And believe me, you do. Try formatting yours accordingly, and see if your work is not treated with greater respect!
After my last post, forward-thinking reader Christa anticipated my next point, so I have already covered the issue of whether you should include a title page in an e-mailed submission. Since the comments are less easily searched than the text of my posts, I’m going to go over the logic a bit here as well.
The answer, in case you were wondering, is yes — it is an excellent idea to include a title page with an e-submission. It’s an even better idea to include it as PART of the manuscript attachment, rather than as a separate attachment.
A bit perplexed? You’re not alone. Let me deal with the whys first, then the hows.
As Christa rightly points out, an agent who sends you an e-mail to ask for a full or partial manuscript, like one who calls after reading your first 50 pages to ask for the rest of the book, obviously has your contact information already. So why repeat it by sending a title page?
The first reason — and not the least significant, in an industry that values uniformity of format — is that every professional title page includes this information. It’s what agents and editors expect to see, and believe me, any agent who accepts e-queries receives enough e-mail in a day to render the prospect of scrolling through those received a few weeks ago a Herculean task. Make it easy for her to contact you, and she’s more likely to do it.
Second, even if the agent or screener scrupulously noted all of your contact information from your query AND filed away your e-mail address for future reference, agencies are very busy places. Haven’t you ever accidentally deleted an e-mail you intended to save?
I tremble to mention this, but most of the agents of my acquaintance who’ve been in the game for a while have at least one horror story about reading a terrific piece of writing, jumping up to show it to someone else in the office — and when they’ve returned, not being able to find the mystery author’s contact information.
Don’t let them tell a story like this about you: Millicent is unlikely to scroll through 700 e-mails to track down even the most captivating author’s contact information. And even if an agent asks for an e-mailed submission, he will not necessarily read all of it on screen — once it’s printed out, it’s as far from the e-mail that sent it as if it had come by regular mail.
Besides, do you really want to begin your relationship with the agent of your dreams (or editor of your passions) by deviating from standard format, even virtually? As every successful civil disobedient knows, you are generally better off politely meeting expectations in matters of little moment, so you may save your deviations for the things that really matter.
As Flaubert famously advised writers, “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
Okay, so he wasn’t talking about title pages. But the same principle applies here: a title page — or lack thereof — does make a strong statement about the professionalism of the manuscript, regardless of context.
I wouldn’t advise sending the title page as a separate attachment, though: because viruses can be spread through attachments, folks in the industry tend not to open attachments they did not specifically ask to see. Instead, insert the title page at the beginning of your manuscript file.
Do I see a raised hand or twelve out there? “But Anne,” I hear some quick-on-the-draw readers cry, “won’t including it in the document make the title page look wrong? Won’t it automatically have a slug line, and won’t including it mess up my pagination?”
Good questions, all, but these outcomes are relatively easy to avoid in Word. To prevent a slug line’s appearing on the title page, insert the title page into the document, then go to the Format menu and select Document, then Layout. There should be an option there called “Different First Page.” If you select that, you can enter a different header and footer for the first page of the document, without disturbing the slug line you will want to appear on every other page.
Don’t include a slug line (AUTHOR’S LAST NAME/TITLE/#) on the title page, or a page number. Just leave the header and footer blank.
To ensure that the first page of text (which will be page 2 of the document, right?) is numbered as page 1, you will need to designate the title page as 0. In Word, you do this by going to the View menu, selecting Header and Footer, then Page Number Format.
While I’m on the subject of formatting, and now that I know how to insert snapshots of pages into this blog, I think that next time, I shall take reader Dave’s excellent suggestion and show you what a page of text in standard format looks like. I have long been yearning to show how to format the first page of a chapter correctly.
And that’s the kind of longing I have when I’m NOT feverish; there’s no accounting for taste, eh? Speaking of which, my couch is calling me again, so I am signing off for today. Keep up the good work!