Reading Submission Guidelines: Your Gateway to Publication

SUBMISSION CLOUDI’ve had this blog since 2006. And the last few years I’ve opened it up to more guest posts and author interviews.  Two reasons: I love to give other authors exposure, and I often learn useful things from my guests. Another reason is I don’t have to write every single blog. 😊

I want my blog posts to bring value. The same way publishers of magazines and books want their content to. Which is why magazines and blogs have submission guidelines.

Why I added submission guidelines

This past year I created submission guidelines for Jubilee Writer. My goal was to make it easier for guest bloggers to supply me with the things I need. Over the years, I’ve sent additional emails to upcoming guests requesting headshots and cover art or missing bios. My guidelines are intended to eliminate unnecessary emails. Instead, make my needs very clear from the get-go. There’s a list of possible questions in my guidelines for new author interviews. A time saver for both the guest and me.

And yet

There are times I still need to ask for missing items. Authors sometimes send me their media kit, which makes more work at my end. I would need to cut and paste, change fonts and in the end request they resend photos and book covers as attachments because I couldn’t pull the pictures from the word document.

Now that I have guidelines, I’ve stopped doing the extra work. My instructions are clear. Photos must be attached. I ask the guest to do the work and I explain why. For new authors, it’s a learning experience. I’ll take the time to help newbies get the components right. But magazines and book publishers won’t bother. They may not have time to request missing parts of your submission.  It will more than likely end up in the trash file.

But I have a media kit

If a publisher requests a media kit—send it. If not, please don’t. I recall taking pains to create a job resume only to have to fill out a handwritten application. Every blank had to be completed. No “see attached resume” was allowed.  That’s the same philosophy with guidelines. Give them what they want, how they want it.

Many job resumes and submissions are online where every space must be filled in. No attaching a media kit. You can’t cut and paste from your media kit into blanks. If you don’t know what a media kit is and didn’t read Tuesday’s guest post from Paige Boggs on Media Kits, click here.

I repeat

Always send what the publisher, editor, or agent wants IN THE FORMAT they want it. I was surprised when Women’s World magazine’s guidelines required a hard copy of a short story mailed with an SASE. They refused to take emailed versions. Chicken Soup for the Soul is an online submission form only.

Most guidelines contain a disclaimer like: “if you do this instead of that, we will delete your email without opening it”. A retired literary agent told a story at a conference I attended about a persistent author. Guidelines on the agent’s website clearly stated he only took proposals and manuscripts via email. He had very specific steps involved in creating the kind of proposal he wanted. This particular author hand delivered his manuscript to the agent’s door. Without skipping a beat, the agent wrote across the manuscript a rejection note and handed it back.

And Again, I Say

Read the guidelines, then read them again. Follow every step. If you aren’t computer savvy when it comes to attachments, ask someone to teach you. Unless a publisher states they want your submission in the body of an email—always send it as an attachment. (Side note: clearly title the attachment i.e. Short Story Title, by Authors name and make sure your email subject line is clear as well.) When you think you have all your ducks in a row, count them again. It’s embarrassing to send off your email and forget to attach your manuscript, catch the mistake and send another email. Some publishers may glance at the subject line and think you are violating the guidelines of not sending a corrected manuscript after submitting. They may push the delete button without opening the email and miss your cute “Oops! I forgot to add the attachment.”

Get in the habit of reading submission guidelines thoroughly even for lowly blogs like mine. That habit will improve your publishing chances and show you as a professional even if it is your first ever submission.

What are some unusual submission guidelines you’ve run into as an author?

 

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2 thoughts on “Reading Submission Guidelines: Your Gateway to Publication

  1. gkittleson says:

    I second everything you emphasized here, Cindy. May I use your article this coming weekend at a writing retreat I’m co-facilitating?

    Like

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