Editing Rant: Submission Standards

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Editing Rant – Standards for submission. Read them – love them.


I now return you to your normally scheduled blog in-progress.


When submitting to an anthology or a publisher (or even an editor or agent), read the submission standards. The people asking to review your work for publication did not just create a bunch of rules which they stuck up on the website under the “submission” portion of the menu for giggles. Nearly all those rules are up there for reasons.

First and foremost, it is a test. Can you, for the love of goodness, follow written instructions? If not, editing can’t be done. If you can’t read simple instructions on a website, where you found the information on how to submit, and then implement them, I already know you will be a problem child for my editing.

I don’t care if your work is the bestest in the entire world and will make me rich. I’m not in this job to be rich – I do this job because I like making great reading material. Dealing with a writer who thinks rules doesn’t apply to him/her is not in my “like” world. I won’t even read your manuscript; a form rejection takes me about 2 minutes to send – figuring out how to download and review a manuscript not following guidelines takes much longer. I rather work with a slightly less great piece and make it awesome then deal with people who cannot follow instructions.

Second, the guidelines sort out those who really mean it. If you take the time to correct your manuscript to whatever the instructions are (even put it in sans comic font – shudder), I know you really are serious about writing. This is your professional resumee after a fashion. More on that in another editing rant.

Third, the reasons for the particular guidelines. Double-space makes it easier to read and edit – to see errors and make comments for returning. Times new roman font (or whatever font is requested) is chosen as a standard for ease of reading. Standard margins, allows the reviewer to compare story length against what they are looking for. File format (.docx, .txt, .pdf, .doc), editors are poor and don’t have a lot of different computer programs – if you don’t send it in the format requested, it might be impossible to open. 

Be grateful to live in a time when the publication guidelines are easy to find and you don’t have to print off fifty, a hunderd, a thousand pages and mail it in and wait a year for a response.

Suck it up and follow the submission guidelines. You will make it further than 50% of all manuscripts in the submission pile just by doing that.

Yes, really. HALF of all electronic submissions my publishing house gets do not follow guidelines. And I DON’T READ THEM. 

You, you don’t understand guidelines. Form reject “Thank you, your submission does not match our current needs.”

Editing Rant over. (and ongoing with every submission I review)