July 15, 2015

Oh, those writers’ guidelines

I've written about following the writers’ guidelines many times on this blog, but the topic is important enough to share again with readers.  

Writers' guidelines help you learn what an editor wants in terms of a submission. They can be usually found on the homepage of a publication. Sometimes, you will have to look in the subheadings labeled "About us" or "Contact."  

Guidelines spell out the specific requirements for fiction or nonfiction.  You will find the expected word count and the specifications for formatting a manuscript. You may also discover the requirements for a bibliography.  Guidelines may even point out the types of stories that are suitable for submission.  Sometimes, you will learn how an editor wants the subject of an email worded. 

Contact information:
Remember to include your contact information (usually email and snail mail) on the first page of a submission.  This is fairly standard even if it's not mentioned in the guidelines. Even though this seems over-the-top, omitting this simple step may result in a rejection.   Keep in mind that editors do not have time trying to search emails for contact information.  

Multiple submissions:  
Multiple submissions are two or more pieces submitted at the same time, whether sent together in a letter by snail mail, or by sending several in one email.  This also includes staggering submissions over a short period of time (like less than a week apart). If the guidelines state that multiple submission are not accepted, don't even think about sending more than one submission to an editor.  While you might think this may increase your chances that one of your pieces will be accepted, this tactic will always backfire.

Cover letter:
As cruel as it might seem, failing to include a cover letter may earn you a rejection.  It's common courtesy to write one when submitting.  Always include a short letter with your submission that describes your work and presents your biography.  It's also nice to close the letter by thanking the editor for her time.

You want to get published, right?  Then, always check the writer's guidelines before writing and once again before submitting.  Sometimes, the requirements have been changed.  Make every effort to adhere to the rules.  I guarantee you that following the writers' guidelines improves your chances of publication.






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