Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Reminder (or RANT) On Following Submission Guidelines

I know there are authors out there who believe submission guidelines are "merely suggestions" and "you can really do whatever you want." Along the same lines, I know there are other authors who simply feel that submission guidelines are "hoops you have to jump through because editors and agents want to reduce what they have to read." I have to say, both of these are wrong.

I am bringing this up again because of an increased number of authors who seem to be missing the point with something that is pretty basic.

When editors and agents have submission guidelines, they are doing this for a reason. Everyone has a different set of guidelines and it is up to the author to read those guidelines carefully. We have these set up in this way because this is how we can better get to your work and respond to your writing fairly and objectively. We also do this differently because we are all operating with different computer platforms and email systems. In some cases, we do this a particular way because we might have been "burnt in the past" (for example computer viruses in attachments).

At Greyhaus, my email submission guidelines are pretty basic.

1) If you send a snail mail submission, you are to send only the following:

  • A 3-5 page synopsis
  • The first 3 pages
  • A SASE
2) If you send an email query you will send only the following:

  • No attachments
  • Not cutting and pasting a synopsis and a manuscript in the body of the email
  • Send only a query letter
  • Send it only to (I wrote it this way to prevent SPAMMERS)
3) Or you can use my established form which has VERY clear items to fill in.

And yet, we (not just me but other editors and agents) a ton of authors who seem to believe their situation is different. That somehow, they don't need to follow the guidelines.

Of course, here are the consequences of not following those guidelines:
  • You will get a rejection because clearly, if you cannot follow these directions, how will you respond when we send revisions...or
  • You will get a rejection because clearly the author is lacking some basic levels of literacy skills...or
  • You will get a rejection because you are lacking the research skills necessary to be a strong competitive writer...or
  • We will skip sending you a response because, hey, what's the point? You didn't read our guidelines so why would you read this response.
And then there is the fall out from that. Authors then will start to argue that:
  • Editors and agents do not respond to queries.
  • Editors and agents don't want to see creativity
  • Editors and agents are not open to new ideas
  • etc.
I know this might come across as a bit of a rant, but please note that we ARE looking for new projects. We DO want to read your work. We DO want to get back to you in a timely manner. But with that said, we need your help to follow those guidelines. 

There really is only so much hand-holding that we can do.

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