Hello, there! We’re almost ten days into the submission period, and we’re very excited about some of the work we’ve accepted. We think our readers are going to be pleased!
That said, processing the Inbox has been interesting.
One of the most common statements you’ll see in a publication’s guidelines is something to the effect of “submissions that do not follow the guidelines will be deleted unread/automatically rejected unread.” It sounds authoritative and control-freakish. It sounds strict and unyielding, and it certainly sounds unfriendly. It might even, depending upon how intricate the guidelines are, sound like the guidelines exist only to torture you.
In reality, it’s none of those things.
When our window here at 34 Orchard first opened, we were okay with getting a .docx here and there (and even links to documents in people’s Google Drives, which we’ve never seen before)—we’re writers, too; we understand, and we’d like to give everyone a shot, even though it was painfully clear in our guidelines that the only format we wanted was .doc.
However, as the days wore on, we were getting too many of them—thusfar, nearly 35% of what was coming in, a much higher percentage than years ago during my past tenures as editor of other publications. We’ve since tweaked our guidelines to include the brusque statement that we will reject any format other than .doc unread. Why?
It’s not because we’re snobs, or we’re being mean, or that we’re behind the times and can’t adapt, or we enjoy making writers jump through hoops for the fun of it, or we want things a certain way “just because we can.”
Guidelines are in place so that the work gets done in the most efficient way possible, and it’s particular to each publication, depending upon that publication’s needs: how many staff members there are, what kinds of equipment they’ll be using, what software each of our readers has, how they keep their electronic files, if there’s a budget to be able to work with a platform like Submittable (which gives flexibility with formats, but also costs money we’d rather use to pay our writers), et cetera. In many cases, following the guidelines means that the response time is faster, and editors can focus on reading the work instead of the minutiae. Sometimes, guidelines are in place to simplify the physical publication process, again, making it easier for editors to focus on quality content and design.
Also–and this is the elephant in the room–keep in mind that following the guidelines sends a number of positive messages about you, and not following them sends just the opposite.
After all, if you really wanted a job, and they specifically told you to come to the interview in professional dress, would you show up in a chicken suit and still expect to get hired?