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Read all the editors' answers to Duotrope's interview question: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process? Learn more.
Here is a small sampling from our recent Editor Interviews. We have interviewed over 1,650 editors.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: They send attachments instead of pasting the poem directly in the e-mail submission.
A: Submitters might send us work that's longer than what we publish or they might not be students.
A: We receive countless submissions riddles with misspelled words, missing capitalization, missing punctuation, and more. We also receive queries daily on topics we are not interested in. For example, why would a publication for writers and authors be interested in articles on dog warts, high cholesterol in squirrel meat, and the growing number of STDs in the senior population?
A: We are not interested in survey-type articles, nor in articles that lack interdisciplinary insights. We do not accept articles on the history of ideas unless they are anchored in literary study.
A: Although we have published fiction, primarily we publish poetry. Moreover, we're rather highbrow and contemporary and consequently not especially interested in essays, light verse, or religious verse.
A: Many submitters want to know why their submission was rejected. In other words, they don't realize that rejected submissions have usually not been read analytically, the way a writing teacher reads and student's work. In fact, most of the time the rejected submission hasn't even been read to the end.
A: They submit stuff that doesn't fit my basic guidelines, like sending traditional poems with line breaks.
A: Writers think we are kidding around when we say we get a lot of submissions. It's true. Just be patient and you will eventually hear from us if you've received an acceptance or if we'd like to invite you to resubmit. If you don't hear back it is because of high volume, but we wish you only the best (unless you sent us one of our off limits submissions...then meh).
A: They submit without understanding our purpose and taste as editors. We are not a journal which publishes new original research on Paradise Lost, for example.
A: Improper format. We still get a lot of submissions which are not in standard manuscript format (Shunn format). If the writer can't be bothered to submit in a professional manner, it's very unlikely that it will receive the consideration which the story might otherwise deserve.
We also get frequent submissions from writers who haven't done their research. If you don't know how to saddle a horse, please don't describe your character attempting it. Know how far it was possible to travel and how long it would take. Understand what clothing, weapons and food were in use in the time and place you write about.
A: They just fail to look at our theme and send us things that have nothing to do with it.
A: They don't follow the submission requirements.
For instance, VitaminZZZ doesn't publish credit lines, it includes brief background info that potential contributors provide which links them personally to sleep in some way. This is to create a kind of intimacy between them and VitaminZZZ's readers that a string of credits can't achieve.
I have had to let go of previously accepted work when the writers did not provide this specific kind of "sleep bio" because they didn't think it was important. Yes, it's very important, it's part of the contract as it's also an integral part of the page design in VitaminZZZ .
If writers want to be part of the VitaminZZZ family, they really need to participate in this way. It's not hard, it takes about 5 minutes, and their "sleep bio" should portray a genuine sense that they care about sleep, about their loved ones' sleep, their readers' sleep, that they aren't just sending in work hoping to acquire yet another byline/credit.