Monday, 28 January 2013

What goes through a literary magazine editor's head when writers don't follow guidelines?

1. FUCK.

2. Again? Seriously?

3. Should I email them and tell them to resubmit, or just delete it?

4. I could just deal with it and send them a reminder for next time ...

5. But then I'd be doing that a hundred times a month, and wasting my time.

6. Christ. Just delete it. It's their problem.

7. Um ... no, maybe that's too mean. Email them politely and ask them to resubmit.

8. But how is this my problem? They should have just read the guidelines. Not. My. Problem.

9. *hit delete button*

10. Feel relief.

11. Realize I've just wasted ten minutes contemplating what to do about a submission I'll never end up reading. Realize that I do it too often because I am only human and that there is another 'only-human' on the other end, and it's easy to make a mistake (or neglect reading guidelines out of laziness). Realize that if I keep this up I will have wasted: 10 minutes multiplied by 50 or so faulty submissions which equals 8.3 hours wasted in total. That's a WHOLE DAY! I promise myself I'll not do this again and will delete without thinking about it.

12. *click*

13. FUCK.

14. Again? Seriously? Is it really so hard?

15. *sigh* I can't just leave them hanging ...

See what your faulty submissions do to me? Please. Just get it right the first time and it will work out better for everyone. You are human. I am human (a kind one). We are all human. Unless of course, you're a dog. Respect what what goes on behind the scenes (a shit-load of work), please.

Next time, just remember, you are emailing a person, not a robot, and guidelines are there for a reason. They're there to ensure everything is done in a time-efficient manner. I want to spend time reading your wonderful work, not wasting time trying to make up for your laziness. If you were in my shoes, I think you would feel this way too.

How many times have you submitted work and not followed the guidelines thinking that it can't hurt?

Guess what? String Bridge has had a makeover. A new paperback will be out shortly too. I've also decided that, from now on, I will give away the digital version of the soundtrack with every purchase. All you have to do is send me your receipt via this form, and I'll email you a code to download the MP3s. Sound good? I reckon!


  1. I feel your frustration. Speaking from experience, submitting to Vine Leaves is pretty easy. I've had to jump through hoops on some queries, and then it's easier to make a mistake.

    As you know, I LOVE the new cover!

  2. *GULP* I've done it a few times, like sending a sample chapter in an e-mail query, or left out some info the agent requests in a query. I'll think better next time I submit anything. Thanks for the inside info.

  3. Sweetie, I can only imagine the frustration. I can hear your struggle as well as kindness in this post. I'm going to second Theresa. Subbing was rather easy, and I've subbed elsewhere where I felt like I was performing surgery. There are only so many hours in a day, and you have to do what you have to do.

  4. I guess that's why some editors have assistants who go through the slush pile first, passing on only the stuff that works. At least, that's what I've heard.

  5. I've always been a rules-follower kind of gal. Doesn't make me the most interesting person ever, but it sure does help with submissions guidelines. :) I'm actually quite grateful for the guidelines. Makes it so much easier!

  6. Are there things which appear more often than not? I mean, is it a grab-bag of mistakes which are contrary to submission rules or are there particular ones which are repeated more often? And is there a level of cultural misunderstanding?

    I realise one cannot be absolute simply on names but I am guessing you have some idea of country of source. In other words, are the errors made more by some cultures than by others?

    Or is there an 'age factor?' Sadly, after many years as a sub-editor and then manuscript editor I have watched the increasing decline in younger generations - clearly there are exceptions to the rule - in terms of their ability not simply to write and spell but to read and comprehend.

    There was an interesting article the other day on research showing that too much computer or internet time results in a decreased ability to not just understand the written word but to remember things.

    I only ask because I am sure as you shake your head and think: 'Didn't they read it?' that perhaps there is something in how it is presented or what is requested which is hard for people to understand or take on board.

    And clearly the less of these you get the better and the less time wasted so if there is some way of taking action to ensure it is less not more at your end, then it might help.

    1. Ros, I'll look into that. But what is boggling is the amount of attachments that get sent despite it saying NO ATTACHMENTS in caps right at the top of the guidelines page. This obviously indicates that they've found our email somewhere and not even bothered to look at the site.

  7. I'm still just amazed by all the hard work you put into this.

  8. In my day you could get noticed from the slush pile (this was MANY decades ago, in the 1950s and 1960s, to be exact), but no more. Publishing houses are now INUNDATED.

    That new cover is awesome, Jessica. A cover really can make a lot of difference in sales. I am definitely drawn to the cover, both the front and the back.

    Your book is SO good and I wish you great success with this new "look."

  9. I can understand your frustration there Jessica. That is an absolute fantastic idea concerning your soundtrack. I think readers of the book would greatly appreciate it. As you know, I'm a big fan of the soundtrack.

  10. I hear you, and I work on a magazine for people in academia who often have PhDs, so it's not like they're functionally illiterate.

    I use form letters to respond to the handful of most common guidelines breaches: too long, doesn't use the correct citation style, wrong file type. It's a polite way to say "revise & resubmit" when I want to scream "follow the guidelines you moron!" Copy, paste, done. :-)

    LOVE the new cover! Hope it draws lots of new readers.

  11. Hi Jess .. just so pleased I'm going through the slush pile .. but I'm so looking forward to reading String Bridge and the new book will be out shortly - excellent ..

    Good luck with all things .. cheers Hilary

  12. uhhh! I can just SEE you fretting over this. ((hugs)) Great post! Hopefully submitters will read it. :P

    I've actually bloopered on subs before, and I usually follow up with a REPLACEMENT email. In which I apologize for the oversight, etc. My point? Delete away. And if they realize and resubmit, they get a cookie. :D

    You're awesome~ <3

  13. As is said in a certain pirate movie, they're "more what you'd call 'guidelines' than actual rules." Which is to say: If you're a pirate, you can get away with such behavior. Otherwise, you should do what you're told. It's about respect, people.

  14. That sounds like a really long day for you...

  15. I remember that feeling.

    Also, I love the new cover. Sharp.

  16. I think it’s worth mentioning too that some magazines are just too damn fussy in their demands telling us what fonts to use, what line spacing, what size text. The more petty their demands the less inclined I am to be bothered submitting to them. I think you should all get together and agree a standard set of guidelines that apply to every site and every magazine and be done with it. I’d sign that petition.

  17. See, I don't think I would feel too badly... Maybe if it's one wee slip up. But giving them a chance isn't fair to those who DO follow guidelines...

  18. I am obsessive about following guidelines, because I honestly thought it would be 1) Delete and move on. I didn't realise there would be such angst. Although I still plan to follow guidelines, because some editors might not be as understanding as you.

  19. Jessica-

    Interestingly enough, those same thoughts go through almost any manager's head when his or her staff do not follow direction.

    I usually repeat thought (1) several times at first, and then between all of the others.

    Sometimes it's out loud, which I am told is not the best for morale.



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