The View from the Inbox …

We’re not very vocal on this blog, but that’s simply because there’s a lot of work involved in the production of 34 Orchard—and our readers are writers and editors, too. Every minute we spend blogging is a minute we don’t spend on the issue.

That said, I wanted to take a moment to give everyone an “Inbox Update.” During our debut submission period, in January, we received a little over 700 submissions. From those, we selected 16 to publish.

This time around, our numbers have significantly increased … perhaps, because of the pandemic and people have been home. We have nine days left of submissions to go. We have turned down 650 submissions so far (keep in mind, some of those contain three poems each). We have one hundred new ones to be reviewed, with approximately fifty more coming in every day, and our volume is so high that, at this point, we are only sending out notices on pieces we are rejecting until our window closes on July 31.

We have, so far, accepted just seven pieces of work.

That said, if you’ve not heard from us yet, it means your story or poem is being held to read after the window closes, and we’ll make a decision then. Right now, that is about thirty pieces. If you’d like to query, we welcome that, just please note it may take a couple of days to get back to you. Not only are we all writers and editors, we have full-time jobs—and most of us didn’t get the luxury of working from home.

We hope you are having a productive summer, and thank you for letting us read your work!

Guidelines updated!

It’s hard to believe we’re just six days from the end of our Spring open reading period–where has the time gone? We’ve read some wonderful work, and we’re very excited about the issue we’re putting together.

That said, any time someone begins a new venture–like a literary magazine–there are always a few tweaks that need to be made as time goes on. As we found our unique vibe, we also found that a few details in our posted guidelines weren’t clear (like, how many poems will you read in one submission?), so they’ve been updated to reflect suggestions from our submitters.

We’ve also posted an easy link to convert a .docx to a .doc for those who might not be able to figure out how to do that (although nearly all versions of word from 2007 have that in an easy spot in the “save as” drop-down).

You can check them out here: https://34orchard.com/guidelines/

 

 

The Real Reason Guidelines Exist

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?

Enough said.