Submission Rules

They are called submission guidelines, but really, it’s better to think of them as submission rules. If a submission doesn’t follow them, I’m not going to accept it. Even if it’s really good. Even if it’s really, really good. That sometimes makes me sad but there are good reasons for it.

I may not know it’s good.
All submissions get read by slush readers who then vote and/or comment on it. Each yes vote is worth 1 point, each no vote is worth -1 and each maybe is worth 0. I pass on any submission that gets a score of -3 or lower without reading it. Depending on who voted I may also pass on -2 pieces without reading them. Thus, it’s only certain I’ve read a story if it has a score of -1 or better. What’s more our slush readers are told, very clearly, that they do not have to read a story that doesn’t follow the submission guidelines — the most obvious way of knowing this is by looking to see if it’s indented. If a story is indented they tend to just vote ‘no’ on it. It only takes two slush readers doing that to make it likely I’ll never see the submission.

Following guidelines is a skill
Someone who can follow guidelines is someone who can follow instructions. When I accept a submission from someone it is followed by further instructions “Please fill out this agreement and send it back” etc. If a submitter can’t follow instructions even the most uncomplicated of interractions becomes a nightmare.

Ignoring submission guidelines is disrespectful
If someone doesn’t follow our very simple guidelines it feels disrespectful. They are asking us to read and consider their work for publication, but don’t care enough to read and follow our guidelines. It feels like a slap in the face.

Submission guidelines exist for a reason
I don’t create rules in just because I can. They don’t exist because I’m on a power trip or like making people jump through hoops. Each guideline exists for a reason — usually to make less work for us and allow the process from acceptance to publication to move smoothly.

Those are just a few points off the top of my head, but I think it comes down to this: If someone can’t follow submission guidelines I don’t want to work with them no matter how fantastic their work is.

2 Responses to “Submission Rules”

  • Alexa Seidel says:

    Niteblade’s guidelines are perhaps a page long. It might take you a handful of minutes to read them, in most cases we will spend as much time or more with your work, because everything that comes in is looked at carefully, so long as it follows the guidelines.

    Consider making us happy slush readers/editors an investment in your work’s future.

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