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Friday, December 4, 2009

My Son's Basketball Shoes

Why do I have a picture of them on my blog? No worries. I'm going to tell you, and I will tie it into writing. My thirteen-year-old son, Cody, tried out for his Junior High basketball team this week. Big deal, you might say, but oh, it was a big deal. You see, Cody stands six inches shorter than even the smallest kid in his class, and he's at least a foot smaller than the boys who tried out for the team. Eighth grade is hard enough for a boy going through puberty without the added pressures of basketball tryouts. Not to mention being little. But, I'm happy to say, he made the team. No one thought he would. Everyone thought he was too short. He proved them all wrong. Why did he make it despite his size? Well, I'll tell you why. The coach saw past his small stature to his heart and his stellar ball handling skills. (I'm his mother, okay. Let me brag just this once.) His size didn't' matter because he could still play ball. But this post isn't just an excuse for me to talk about my personal life. I have a point to make. I started this series about contradicting information we writers find on the web, and before I continue with the topic of manuscript formatting, I want to point out that, although there are many conflicting requirements out there, I don't think any of them are going to make or break you. If an agent or editor sees the heart and the stellar writing skills, how you submitted it to them isn't going to matter. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to put our best foot forward, but it does mean that we shouldn't get too hung up on these little details. That being said, I'd like to summarize what everyone thought about page numbering. It seems the majority feel that the number should go in the upper right hand corner. I'd have to agree. Others added that they also put their name and working title up there. I agree with this too. The top of every page of my manuscript is headed with this: Susan Mills/TICK-TOCK/1 (It's right justified and the number coincides with the page, of course.) Now, my friend, Shelli, commented that her agent, who happens to be Alyssa Henkin of Trident Media Group, prefers 11-point Times New Roman font. Huh? I thought 12-point was standard. See ...even the font size is up for discussion. Go figure. So, what do you think? Will agents forgive less than perfect manuscript presentation for a good story? And, what font do you consider standard?

48 comments:

Robyn Campbell said...

ARGH! My head hurts. I thought it was twelve too. Question. Did she know that before she queried? Was it on the website? Argh. Will I ever get all this?

Oh and congrats to Cody. Treat him to a night out. He deserves it. I can tell he has HEART! Oh yeah! :)

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

12. And yes, they will forgive if the story shines and if they are the right agent for you. My cent.
~ Wendy

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Hey, Susan! Good for your son! That's awesome!

No, I don't think page numbers make or break you. At least, I hope they are looking at my writing and making a decision on that. Oops, gotta go! Have a great weekend!

Mary said...

That's awesome that your son made the team. I love stories like this. Lots of conflicting info. thanks for trying to wade through it all. I do the same as you. my name/title/1

Matthew Delman said...

So long as the pages are actually numbered, I don't think most agents really truly care one way or the other where the page number falls on the page.

strugglingwriter said...

I don't know what an agent would want, but I would hope they could get past the difference between 11 and 12 font. As long as you aren't using an 8 point or 80 point font in Comic Sans, I would hope the writing would matter more.

Anyhow, have a nice weekend :)

Melanie's Randomness said...

This reminds me so much of what a teacher once told me in high school. I used to the kid with the plastic covers for my reports to make it all nice & neat. The teacher one day took me aside & was like, "Melanie, can you please stop putting your reports in these report covers because I lost your piece to bind it together which made me loose half of ur work. You don't need the cover, your work is just fine without the fancy stuff."

I think you need good writing to help a manuscript instead of fancy stuff cuz if the book isn't good then what's the use with spending all that money & time.

Janna Qualman said...

What's so hard about figuring the answer is, there are so many factors. It can be frustrating! But I do agree with you, that if your heart and skills are where they need to be, the right person will give you a chance.

Paul Greci said...

Congrats to Cody! I hope he has a great season.

I don't think you can go wrong with 12 point font unless someone specifies otherwise. And yes, I agree that the story trumps formatting but you should still put your best foot forward regarding formatting.

Kristi Faith said...

I believe if you show that you read their guidelines and at least double space-if your story is stellar that will stand above the rest. I have read several agents' blogs that say the same thing. They've even said they've been known to look over typo's when the ms is good. (Not excessive typos mind you)

Carolyn V. said...

Yeah, I think an agent will look past little things, but not big mistakes. They want to know that you know the craft. But I do think they will over look the little things. =)

WooHoo for your son! I think it's awesome that he got on the team!

Angie Muresan said...

If the story is a jewel, they will forgive. And I believe it is a 12 point font. But what do I know?

Valerie Geary said...

If an agent doesn't have a little flexibility on things like manuscript format, I probably wouldn't want to work with any way. :)

Amy Tate said...

Great post! And a big congratulations to Cody!!!! Yea!!!! I'm so proud of you!!!!!

Bane of Anubis said...

Google Mugsy Bogues -- 5' 3" PG who played in the NBA -- Give me heart over stature any day.

L. T. Host said...

12-point TNR but it really really depends on the agent, and then the editor. Everyone has different opinions, it seems.

Glad to have you around and no worries on mine-- just happy you'll stop in when you can!

Leah Rubin said...

I would hope that they would! And I consider Times New Roman as the standard.

I bestowed an award on you today-- check it out!

Patti Lacy said...

What a FABULOUS blog! Glad I saw it today!!!
As someone who's dealt with stinky shoes FOREVER (a running family we are) I say yes, yes, a good story will sell!

Font? Duh. I've always submitted 12 point, which is what my agent's templates were in.
But what do I know??

Blessings,
Patti

Tamika: said...

There is no better feeling than being a proud mom! Congratulations to your son!

Thanks for clearing all the details that could tragically be overlooked in the excitement to query. Paying attention to details is critical in this business- it shows professionalism.

B.J. Anderson said...

I really believe if an agent loves your story, and it's not full of typos and huge plot holes, etc., then they will overlook a weird font size or justification. I've read sooo many different ways to format a maunscript, so I usually research an agent to see if they have a specific way they like it. Who knows!

Patti said...

My son just started playing basketball as well., so I can relate to the proud mom thing.

I hope an agent can see to the heart. I pushed send this morning.

Diane said...

I'm sure your mother's pride is beaming! So happy for him. :O)

Cindy said...

Yes, I definitely think an agent will see past that. And really, the best advice I would have is to follow whatever specific directions an agent gives and then try to go with the majority on the rest.

Shelli said...

it would not be a deal breaker - unless it was handrwiting dakota with 8 point font.

but when we went to sub recently - she made me reformat it.

an agent is looking for story. as long as its professional looking.

Girl in My Own World said...

I go with 11 for the font. I have to be honest and say that I usually don't worry about the more technical things, but more so the content. That is just me though. I do think that it totally matters, but I honestly think that if you put out a stellar novel that they will work with you. Could you see someone saying "oh this could be on the NY times bestseller list, but oh wait... you used the wrong font!!!" I think that it matters, but I also think that things like that things that can be corrected whereas content is more of a challenge to alter. Just my thoughts on it. What do you think?

Girl in My Own World said...

P.S. Do you like my little shoes for my new profile pic. I thought the combonation between the autumn leaves and the shoes were so cute. I thought if anyone would appreciate that... it would be you! :o)

~Ellie Kings~ said...

Congrats to your son for making the team Susan. You should be proud! As far as the numbers and fonts... well, I'm learning from you. Thanks for these posts, truly helpful to newbies like me.

Lily Robinson said...

First of all, CONGRATS to your son!

I think 12 is most common, but I understand agents having particular requests. If I were reading that much on my e-mail, I would also request the size font that was easiest on my eyes. Maybe that's why they specify...

Dara said...

I think agents are more forgiving of such things like page numbering and font size, if the story wows them. Still, I will do my best to conform to their submission standards, even if that means I have to change things around in my MS a little.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I've never seen anything other than 12 as standard, but I'm sure every agent out there has their preferences that differ from the standard. But it's the writing that should shine through. As long as your formatting isn't all cattywompus it should be fine.

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Congrats to your son, that's awesome!

And I think an agent will overlook some minor things for a good story, but why risk it? And I use 12 point font unless a website for that agent/publisher states otherwise.

staceyjwarner said...

I'm glad to hear your son made the team...my son is tall and this brings about other struggles...

not sure on font and size and I do believe an agent will forgive specifics for a good story.

much love

Nancy said...

I love those shiny white shoes and what a great story about your son.

On writing, I like Times New Roman and 12 point.

Solvang Sherrie said...

My high school English teacher was completely anal about fonts and margins and spacing. She'd hand our hard work back with a big fat F if it didn't meet her requirements.

Maybe a lot of us had teachers like that, only now we fear rejection instead of the F. I'm hopeful that my acceptance or rejection is based on more than the font I used.

Karen said...

I think as long as the manuscript is written in a language the agent can understand, they'll look past a lot of "mistakes" and imperfections. They have their standards and preferences, but I've yet to read an agent's blog that says if you don't follow the rules to the letter, you'll get an automatic rejection.

Jill Kemerer said...

I think it's wise to conform to an editor's or agent's personal preference once you've established a business relationship with them, but as far as getting your foot in the door? Keep it consistent and standard and the writing speaks for itself.

Congratulations to your son! Hope you celebrate this weekend!

Tara McClendon said...

Wonderful news about Cody! I'm thrilled he made it happen. As for font, I go with 12-point TNR or Courier New. But I also know you're right. Little mistakes on formatting won't make or break the submission unless the agent's on the fence, in which case a failure to follow his specific guidelines could tip you to the no side.

Erica said...

Yay for Cody! Way to show them all!

Let's see... I think 12 pt Times New Roman is good. Story is king. I've heard that a lot, you have a good story with good writing, you can get away with a lot!

Danyelle said...

Great post, and you're right. I think we get so caught up in the details sometimes that we forget to look at the big picture. Thanks for the reminder. :D

Stephanie L. McGee said...

Being a recovering academic, I'm used to 12-point TNR, double-spaced, 1" margins all around.

It's almost an obsession. Thankfully, that's standard on iWork so I don't have to fuss with it. MS Word 2007, on the other hand, took me a while to figure out how to change the default settings.

Tabitha Bird said...

Sorry I am so late to your blog today. Crazt Saturday at our house. I know it is still friday there. What can I say? I even have time difference to help me get to your blog on time. :) Never mind.

I love this post. Size isn't everything. My husband played ball up to state level here in AUstralia and he always made the teams because of his ball handling abilities. He was not that tall either. At just over six foot he was one of the shorted players on any team. But coaches saw he had a head for the game. You can't teach 'head for the game'. Tell your son best of luck and hang in there. Perfect those skills and coaches will notice :)

Heather Sunseri said...

Great post, Susan! Congratulations to your son! Being in a family of little people, we're constantly telling our children that the size of their heart is so much more important than anything else.

I'm a Times New Roman - 12 pt. That's what I see on agents/contest/editor websites.

Hope you're having a fantastic weekend.

Abby Annis said...

Congrats to your son! My son is shorter than most of the kids at school too, so I understand completely.

You make a good point here. I think it's important to be as informed as we possibly can about agent preferences, but it just gets to the point where you can't please everyone on everything. If we're doing everything within reason to be professional and write the best story possible, that's what's going to sell our novels, not formatting. :)

Jody Hedlund said...

Just goes to show that a one size fit all doesn't work in the writing world either! A lot of the time it's the guts and talent we pour in to our writing that matters more than the perfect execution! And you should be very proud of your son! That's awesome!

Laura Martone said...

Well, I sure hope an agent will forgive such little details. I'd like to think a reasonable agent will understand that there are so many conflicting details out there, and I really don't want an unreasonable one anyway.

As for fonts... I thought it was 12-point, too. I happen to favor Times New Roman over Courier, though. Courier reminds me too much of screenplays.

Oh, and I'd just like to say... you have a thirteen-year-old son?! No way! Very cool about his tryouts - I'm very happy for him... and for you. :-)

Yaya' s Changing World said...

Hi Susan,
Kudos to Cody! Great job.

I really like the way you tied this in to writing. Awesome analogy. As far as the size is concerned... you mean, we can't put it in 24 point? Hm! Go figure. ~ Yaya
Yaya's Home

Natalie said...

Your son sounds like a go getter! Good for him.

In the end, I don't think it matters all that much. Easy to read font, page numbers somewhere, and header with name and title are desirable, but I think agents will look past those if they love the writing. Don't sweat the small stuff!

sanjeet said...

yes, they will forgive if the story shines and if they are the right agent for you. My cent.

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