Ask Daphne! How geeky do you want it?

June 17th, 2008 • Kate

Heather writes:

I realize that many agents use portable electronic devices to review manuscripts they are considering. Is there any benefit for an author seeking representation to offer their manuscript in formats compatible with these devices? I recently discovered how to use Palm Markup Language to format my manuscript for ereader (.pdb file), so I can keep it on my palm pilot. Is it worth mentioning to an agent that this format is available if they prefer or does that seem geeky and/or overly ingratiating? I’m technologically inclined, so I could probably learn to convert my manuscript into any desired format.

Heather, I don’t think it’s necessary to offer, since most agents when they request your manuscript will tell you in what format they prefer to receive it. For instance, my request response specifies “Word document attachments” even though I plan to read it on my Kindle, for which I need to convert your file into a Kindle format.
Would it save me time if you sent me something in the Kindle format to start with? Sure. But I use the action of converting the document and putting it on my Kindle via USB cable to keep track of my material. I know that a document I need to read is located in my “Kindle” file folder, and if I need to track it down or respond to the author, that’s a quick and easy way to do so.
You could offer your manuscript in different formats, but it’s a fine line between considerate and overly ambitious. Are you really going to convert your doc or rtf into Kindle, Sony Reader, Palm, and every other format out there? Chances are, if an agent is doing their reading on a device, they’ve perfected the getting on their device of said manuscripts. You can cut out a step, but you never know if that step is the memorable one that ensures your novel gets read and responded to quickly.
Hope that helps!

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