If you have been paying attention lately, I have been raising a rather large stink about submission guidelines. You are probably pretty tired of hearing it, but let me give a couple of reasons to keep reading anyway.
– As you are getting ready to be a writer, even if you don’t think of yourself as a professional writer yet, by sending your writing into a publisher, you are a writing professionally. As a professional you need do things professionally. If you have a day job you would not do work that was substandard. You would not write an e-mail to your boss with lots of swearing or links to things that would be inappropriate to work, (Unless you are trying to quit your job.) The same thing should be true for sending in your submission to a publisher. They are looking for a particular type of submission in a particular format. Now I do understand that a lot of publishers have different requirements, but in most cases they are not very hard to reformat and change your submission to meet the guidelines.
– Remember that publishers are businesses. As a business publishers are trying to provide some service to readers and authors alike. When you send a submission into a publisher that does not meet their submission guidelines you are taking away from their ability to do that. Even if it is something small like not formatting your submission the way they want it. If they are a nice publisher they will reformat your
submission for you and put in their slush pile. If they are a sort of nice publisher, they will send you a rejection letter saying please read our submission guidelines. If they are super busy publisher you will never know what happened to you submission.
But if they are making those changes for you or sending you a rejection letter, you are taking time away from the people who did it right. That means that the publisher is spending extra time on someone who did it wrong and no longer has as much time to spend on the people who did it right. I know the world is not a fair place, but that hardly seems fair at all.
Beyond that. We here at Flying Island Press, take the time to read each and every submission, and as long as you meet our guidelines even if we reject your story we take it as a matter of pride to give you feedback on your story. If you send us a work that does not meet our submission guidelines you are wasting our time. We have to read your story and figure out that it does not meet our guidelines, and you are taking our time away from other authors again who had done it right.
You are getting paid to get it right
– As an author you get paid to write stories. You are normally paid by the publisher so think of the publisher as an employer. Just like I said in the first paragraph you would not send something in to your boss that didn’t meet what they were expecting. So you read the statement of work from your boss you do the job bases on that and then “turn your work in.”
The publishing industry is a little different in that we don’t care how you got the work done, you could write your first draft of toilet paper in Crayon for all we can as long as when you send it in to us, it is what we asked for and in the format that we asked for. That is your statement of work. Again if you worked for a fruit seller you would not send bring them plastic dog bones. In the same way if the publisher that you are submitting your work to is a Sci/Fi publisher you probably should not send them historical romance.