Has anybody figured out a way to format an email query so that it's readable when the agent gets it? Most agents seem to not want attachments, asking instead for you to paste the sample chapter into the body of the email, and it seems to always come through funky on the other end -- paragraph breaks in the wrong place, extra spaces added here and there, etc. I've tried rich text, plain text, different word processing programs, exporting it as plain text, etc. etc. and nothing seems to work. Anybody got a trick?

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Just below "Paste" on my drop-down tab, I have a "Paste and Match Style." This works for me, although the email never matches my Word doc. 

How about a pdf they can download?

Paste and match style may work. But I recommend you take your text out of Word or word processing program first, paste it into a plain text editor, without formatting, and just put double spaces between paragraphs. Then paste it into the body of your email. But if your email program is in rich text format,check that the plain text reads the way it should before sending.

They probably wouldn't accept a PDF either if they said no attachments.

Don't know why.  Downloading a pdf isn't an attachment.   It can be viewed online or downloaded.  I've never heard of a virus in a pdf.

Minerva,

A lot of agents I see accept attachments but some don't. I think you're probably worrying more about this than you have to because I am sure any agent understands how sometimes formatting gets wonky in an email. They won't necessarily reject you just for that.
 
Just keep trying and make sure you send to yourself to see how it works. You might not be able to get it perfect but do the best you can to get it readable.

But believe me if an agent is interested in your work, they won't hold it against you if it's wonky in an email because they know that happens a lot with sending things in the body of an email.

And if they are that bothered by it they should allow attachments. I don't know why some agents don't. If you have an antivirus program and an up-to-date system then it should scan anything before it's opened anyway. If they accept the manuscript in email you'd have to attach it so I don't understand why some agents don't like attachments with queries or sample chapters. Especially in this day and age.

Or is this one of those dinosaur places that still expect folks to send out hard copy manuscripts too?

Have faith and don't sweat it too hard. Just send it the best you can. Good luck!

I've had the same problem.  It's worse when they want sample chapters, a synopsis and a CV pasted in.  Inevitably it gets screwed up in formatting.

What I did is draft my query in an email and save it as a draft.  Then I added the all the chapters, etc and spent about 15 minutes fixing the format.  Now I have everything in an email draft and can tailor it to each specific agent.  It's very quick to delete the things I don't need rather than add stuff and reformat. 

Good luck!

I think I've figured it out: if I type up the query / sample chapter in a plain text program (i.e., Notepad) and save it as plain text, I can cut and paste it into the body of a blank rich-text format email and it comes through at the other end with formatting intact. It's true that I had to go back and format the sample chapter to have block-style paragraphs, but it didn't take long and it was worth it. Thanks for everybody's replies.

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