NOTE; I WILL BE AWAY FOR A FEW DAYS. NEXT POST WILL BE JUNE 28
Today's topic is on writer's guidelines that many publications provide for your sake and theirs. There are writers who don't take the time to check guidelines, and they are far more likely to receive a rejection because of it. I've written on this topic before and probably will again, as I feel it is important.
The guidelines are exactly what they say--a guide for you to know if your submission fits the publication. You will find out if there is a maximum word count, or even a minimum in some cases. You'll learn whether you can submit a reprint or not. You'll discover what the editor is looking for. Will they take fiction only, or nonfiction only. Do they require a short bio sent with the submission, even a headshot photo in some cases. The guidelines a publication provides is a treasure trove in most cases.
Now and then, the guidelines will be minimal, tell you very little. Some publications offer no guidelines which is a shame as both you and the editor may be wasting your time in submitting.
The two places where I have found the most extensive guidelines are Chicken Soup for the Soul and Knowonder! (a children's ezine and print magazine no longer taking submissions) Looking at these kinds of guidelines might be a little overwhelming at first, but read through once, then go back and read it again, more slowly. Let it sink in.
It's a good idea to match your submission to the guidelines. Go through and check off the things your submission does, and those that it lacks. Can you make adjustments to fit the guidelines? Sometimes, you are able to do that. Other times, you can move on to another market as you know this one isn't for the piece you want to submit.
Some guidelines are very brief. One or two sentences. Some are nonexistent. All you'll find is an address where you can send your submission, or a link to Submittable. Nothing else. I find this frustrating. Tell me what you want and what you don't want. Please! You'll find a wide range among the many writer guidelines you check.
When I want to submit to a particular magazine, I put something like 'Cadet Quest writer guidelines' in a search engine. Then click on any one of several possibilities they send me.
I have submitted to Chicken Soup for the Soul many times, and I know the guidelines pretty well. Even so, I read through them each time to refresh my memory, and I also want to check and see if there have been any changes. So, don't rely totally on what you learned earlier. The older I get, the more I use the check, check, and double-check method for many things. Yes, it takes time, but in the end, you'll benefit.
Make reading guidelines a part of the submission process.