Literary Agents: How to Safely Accept Email Attachments (and why you should)

For unsolicited submissions, most literary agents prefer email queries with sample pages pasted into the body of the message. Email submissions save time and trees, but if sample pages are requested with a submission, it’s better to ask for that material as an attachment. Here’s why:

An attached file is the only way to maintain the integrity of the submitting author’s work. Emails are sent and received via one of three formats: HTML, rich text, or text only. When the email formats don’t match, the sender’s email loses its intended styling (and Gmail restyles everything, grrr!). Pretend George R.R. Martin doesn’t have an agent, and he queries you, but your email program renders his sample material completely awkward because it eliminates his use of italics to express first-person thoughts. In evaluating Martin’s submission, you would assume that he doesn’t know the difference between first- and third-person narration. Oops. Good writers format their work appropriately, so why let an email program ruin a potentially great query by butchering its format?

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Best Laptops for Writers

I recently googled “best laptops for writers” and found that the the top results dispense advice that is either dated or just plain wrong. Here’s a brief summary of the suggestions from other blogs: writers need a laptop with a nice keyboard, some memory, and, oh, it should have a screen—you know, for viewing things. The general assumption is that almost any laptop can be used for writing. While that’s true, some laptops ease our literary lives more than others. If you write for a living, then your laptop is an invaluable companion, and the right model will significantly increase your overall productivity.

Laptop Basics

When buying a laptop, consider these ten essential elements:

  1. build quality
  2. processor
  3. random-access memory (RAM)
  4. storage via hard disk drive/solid state drive
  5. screen
  6. keyboard
  7. pointing device
  8. video card
  9. wireless connectivity
  10. ports

Three components are responsible for how “fast” your laptop feels: the processor, memory, and storage drive. Because these three elements must work in harmony, one weak component adversely affects the performance of the other two.

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Technology for Writers: Introduction

Welcome to my blog. I better get this thing started right:

Now that my blog is properly christened, onward to equally important matters.

While I am just beginning to explore the publishing world, my first discovery is that it feels like a place that would rather exist without modern technology. The literary universe longs for the musky smell of a printed page and finds comfort in the familiar creased spines of a filled bookshelf. On the other side of the spectrum, our digital-crazed culture covets reading devices that are sleek and multifunctional.

Not long ago, while the publishing industry cheerily meandered down a dirt road in a horse-drawn carriage, Amazon launched its Kindle and quickly captured 90 percent of the e-book market. Eventually, with increased competition from iTunes and Barnes and Noble, Amazon’s share of the digital content market fell to approximately 60 percent, but not without great cost to the publishing industry. The lesson was clear: adapt to modern advances in technology, or die by them.

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