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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: 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.
A: We aren’t usually sent the titles of the pieces submitted to us, and which makes arranging the files a bit tougher.
A: For some reason, I keep on getting submissions that don't seem to be set in the past or are about the past.
A: We have received submissions by those who have not read our guidelines - like pornography, or extremely long pieces. Contest submissions often include identifying information, and are rejected for that. We don’t want to burden our judges with unacceptable entrants
A: Commonly, pulp fiction (or worse) is sent when Twelve House only publishes well-written literature.
A: Writers will often identify themselves in the body of the work or in the file name. We read anonymized, and in the case of folks who do not follow that guideline, we have to remove that information from the piece before it's considered, which is annoying, unnecessary work for a voluntary editorial staff.
A: Some people will send lengthy cover letters, thinking that the more accolades and journals they list, the more likely we are to accept them. We definitely read the cover letters, and we love to receive a line or two about the artist and what makes the work unique, but we are as interested in writers with few or no previous publications as we are in writers with Pushcarts and several books. The best cover letters are just a few lines long and let the submitted work really do the talking! - Ally
A: We have a pretty flexible submission process and are open all the time with no submission fees. It is very rare for us to decline something because it's noncompliant. We are exclusively a fiction market, so we turn away nonfiction and critical essays about craft in nonfiction and poetry books. Do we want your piece in TNR 12 pt double-spaced? Yes we do! It is the easiest to read. Will we read your single-spaced piece in Arial? Yes we will, but you can help us by making it easy to read your work.
A: Writers often forget to include the publication history of the story they are submitting. It's important that the editorial staff knows if the story is an original or a reprint, and if it's a reprint when and where it has been published already.
A: Incorrect formatting and citation style; unsuccessful anonymization of documents they think are ready to go out to readers because they've deleted their name as author, but the file still contains the information under "Properties."