Writing Books/Query


QUESTION: Hi Cathy! I'm nearly finished with my novel, which contains a prologue set twenty years prior to the remainder of the story. My question is; when I send my query to an agent, do I include a bit about the prologue or start with the present-day scenario? Thank you.

ANSWER: Hi, Carol!

If an agent wants to see the first so many pages, and all that you could send is the prologue. I'd send the first chapter instead and state in the cover letter that there's a prologue that is set 20 years before, but you wanted the agent to see the story where it actually begins. Of course, if the reading of the prologue is CRITICAL to the first chapter, then of course, it needs to go instead.

Hope that helps!

Good luck,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you! I have another question- I've seen with the formatting that it's appropriate to have 25 lines per page to come up with an average of 250 words. I'm only counting 23 lines per page with an average of 15 words per line ... My manuscript is double-spaced with one inch margins, and the widows and orphans feature is disabled. I've tried playing around with the line spacing to no avail. I'm confused ... hope you can help!

I wouldn't worry too much about that method of word count. Most everybody uses the computer count anymore. The "white space" method of 25 lines per page was pre-computer and saved the publisher's staff from actually having to COUNT every word on every page. It created a close estimate that if a manuscript was double-spaced and used Courier font in 12 point, a 400 page manuscript was close to 100,000 words, which was the preferred size of a novel at many houses (and still is.)

I'd just go with your word processor count and call it good. And use a round, divisible by 5, number when querying. If the manuscript is 83,439 (for example) just say, "approximately 85,000 words". The editor will expect a little +/- in the count, which can be bumped up or down depending on the preferred count of that imprint or line.

Good luck!


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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