Sunday, June 22, 2008

No time to read the guidelines?

As the editor of an ezine that publishes crime fiction, as well as the owner of a small-press publishing company, I'm constantly getting queries and submissions from people who would like to have their story or book published.

Of course, I WANT submissions!  I'm a publisher, after all.  There have been a couple of occasions when submissions were thin on the ground, and I despaired of having enough stories for an issue of the ezine.

But recently I received an email submission for the ezine from someone and I was puzzled.  The email had two flash pieces in it, both in a single attached document.  The writer had not included in the email:
  • a cover note of any kind
  • the author's name
  • the titles of the story
  • any prior publishing credits
  • any idea of what the stories were about
  • an indication of which issue the stories were for (as each issue is themed, I need to know this as it is not always obvious and it helps me to read with an eye toward the theme)
ALL those things are stated clearly in the Submission Guidelines, as being required for a submission. I read the stories anyway, as they were flash and therefore short.  They had absolutely no relevance to my ezine at all, much less to any theme.

So, I wrote back to the individual about the stories.  In my email, I asked if the writer had read the guidelines as to how to submit and what was required in the submission.  I also had the temerity to ask him if he had even read one issue of the ezine, to see what the contents are like.

Here is his unedited response: 

"Thanks for looking Tony, this is my first adventure into the world of flash fiction and such and I'm getting battered around a bit. It seems editors in fiction are a different breed. I run 4 publisher sites so I know some of what you go through. But working full time self employed, writing, publishing others doesn't allow for a word to word reading of all guidelines-if I did-I'd go broke since seldom do writers get paid."

Now, this individual claims to run four "publisher sites." What that means, I'm not sure, unless he has some sort of business where he publishes work for others, apparently non-fiction since we fiction editors "are a different breed." I wrote non-fiction for years, and you know, non-fiction editors want you to follow the guidelines, too. In fact, most are notably pickier than fiction editors!

But he doesn't want to read the guidelines and submit according to them. If he didn't have time to read the guidelines, I can almost guarantee that he didn't read any of the sample copies that are available. Of course, without reading the guidelines, his statement about writers seldom getting paid is sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy, isn't it?  I mean, if you submit and don't follow the guidelines, you probably won't get accepted and therefore won't get paid.

What makes people think that they can throw work out there into the world of editors, willy-nilly and without paying attention to guidelines, and survive as a writer? Sure, someone will accept the work on occasion, but isn't it much more intelligent and efficient to target things appropriately? Sure, you can cast your bread upon the waters. But you better be willing to waste a lot of loaves if you do it that way.

Honestly, it just seems stupid to do things the way this person did. If you disagree, please let me know! I'd love to hear about it.

1 comment:

Lynn T. said...

You are exactly right. It's a shame some people no longer take the time to make sure they do things correctly. I take things like that as an insult and that it seems your time is not worth as much as their's.