Literary submission guidelines: to follow or not?

2 Sep

hiker-cartoon webWhen you go off to a foreign country to trek the wilds or hike a mountain in some remote, forsaken spot, people often hire a guide. That’s a guide (I believe) as in someone who makes it very clear the path you should take. She doesn’t suggest what might be best. She doesn’t cajole and coax and say “Well, I think it would be advisable if…” No. She knows what she’s talking about, she makes it clear what you should do and you follow. So I think the same should apply with guidelines. And specifically, submission guidelines for oh, let’s say, literary magazines.

So, I say all this apropos of my Web site launching very soon – watch this space. I’m absolutely delighted that submissions are coming in from all over the world and from a variety of people. Out went the emails, yahoo group posts, the blog, the Twitter, the Facebook postings and people have heard and are submitting. Hooray!

I spent a lot of time laying out the clear submission guidelines. Basic guidelines. Only send in a Word Doc. Don’t send in body of email. Double-spaced, 12 point font. Two line bio on a separate page. Thank you to everyone who followed them. But to those who have sent me poems that yell (ie all caps in bold font) in the body of the email, or those who uploaded 25,000 word zip files, or those who decided that despite the fact that the site is for poetry and FICTION only sent me their life stories, their personal musings on everything from thumbs to divorce, I say:

  • Did you not read the guidelines?
  • Did you think I didn’t mean what I said?
  • Could you just not be bothered?
  • Did you think you were allowed to be the exception to the rule?
  • Do you think guidelines are just a “jumping off” point and that even though your submissions don’t meet some, one, or any of the criteria it doesn’t matter?
  • Do you think I wrote these for my own amusement?
  • Are you testing me to see if I’m upholding my own standards?

As a writer, you need to do two things: write, and what’s the second one? Oh yes, read. And if you can’t read or follow guidelines, what does that say about you as a writer? If your reading and comprehension skills are sloppy then in all likelihood your writing will be too.

And you’ll probably be the type of tourist who heads out to the Kalahari desert and leaves your guide behind.

Right. I’m done venting. Good night to all.

I look forward to more submissions as per the guidelines!

Does anyone else have this problem? Why oh why don’t people follow the guidelines?

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2 Responses to “Literary submission guidelines: to follow or not?”

  1. Heather October 28, 2013 at +00:00MonUTC #

    Exactly where did you acquire the concepts to publish ““Literary submission guidelines: to follow or not?
    | Kellifornia Dreaming”? Thanks for the post -Naomi

    • Kelly January 8, 2014 at +00:00WedUTC #

      Compiled from a variety of sources, given that I have done my own submitting over the years.

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