Monday, March 12, 2012

The Myth of Standards

Someone may say that there's a "standard" mode of operations in any given industry.  That's not only a myth, in some cases it's an out and out lie.  Shoe's, for example, CLAIM that they are sized (for men) based on the length of the foot.  You have a foot that's 10 inches long, then you're a size 10.  9 inches long? You get a size 9.  But that's really one of those big lies.  And evil, evil lie.  I just bought a pair of boots for work.  Normally I wear a 9 1/2.  Nike runs a bit small, and I typically wear Nikes, which means I SHOULD wear a 9 in ALL other brands (this is the way I've purchased shoes for FIFTEEN YEARS!!!).  But the boots I'm wearing now?  They're a size 8 1/2.  And while I have unusually tiny feet for someone my height (I'm 6' 1"), I know they're not THAT small.

So what does this have to do with writing?  Not much.  Except that, when you read one advice site that tells you how to write a query, a synopsis, or even how to format your book, you'll be able to find at least one (but probably five or more) sites that will tell you that those methods aren't preferred, or even that they're the absolute WRONG way to do it.

Why does this matter?  Well, I'll tell you.  On Wednesday.  So stay tuned.

Just kidding.

It matters because as writers, it's OUR job to do research.  Some agents want queries formatted one way, other want them formatted another way.  Some want you to tell them why they're receiving a query from you before you jump into the pitch, and other agents will tell you that your BOOK should ALWAYS come first.

I've read some blogs that insist that a synopsis should be EXACTLY three pages long, left-hand justified without paragraph indents, single-spaced with an extra space between paragraphs.  Other blogs say admit that some agents and publishers want one thing from a synopsis, while others will look for an entirely different set of "standards."

So try on your shoes before you assume they fit, and research an agent's preference before querying.


  1. Good advice for preventing blisters!

  2. So true! Though, don't you sometimes wish that agents had the same preferences across the board? It would make like so much simpler (at least when it comes to writing queries and synopses...)