Thursday, July 6, 2017

Please, Please Read The Guidelines


I saw an article on facebook yesterday that piqued my curiosity, so I clicked and read. It's geared to the beginning writer but I'm thinking that those who have moved on to intermediate status could benefit from reading the article, too. Check it out here. It's the first part of the article that I'm going to concentrate on in today's post.

The article, written by an editor, highlights all the things that mark a contributor as a person who is either a beginning writer or a writer who does not pay close attention to guidelines. Far too many writers skip right on by the guidelines, looking for that all-important address where they can send their story. What are they thinking?

Guidelines are posted for a very good reason. They are meant to let you know myriad things. Guidelines might include a theme the publication is using, specifics for formatting what you send, payment information, what rights they will purchase, a certain form for the Subject line in the email you send, a request for your information (name, address, email address, phone), perhaps asking for a short bio.

You might find out if the publication accepts work in one lone genre or if they want only poetry, no short stories. A very important item in some guidelines is a statement telling if they will accept finished articles or queries only.

Chicken Soup for the Soul put something in their guidelines that not all publications provide. They tell you what a Chicken Soup story is not. They let you know that they are not looking for essays--they want stories with a beginning, middle and end. Take a look at their guidelines page. It's quite lengthy, very specific. But guess what? Many will skip right by most of it. All they need to know is where and how to submit. Right? No--the writer needs to read all of the guidelines carefully. Study them just as though you were in high school prepping for a test.

Why bother? If you read and follow the submission guidelines carefully, you're increasing your chances at being accepted. That's why. Many editors will toss a submission that does not adhere to the publication's guidelines.

Yes, it takes time to go through those steps an editor has provided to help you. The editorial staff took the time to let you know what they want and how they want it. It's up to you to respond in kind.

Take a look at the guidelines for the following publications. Read them carefully. Think about them. What do they have in common? Which ones give you the information you might need? Not all publications provide good guidelines. The ones who tell you very little are hurting both writer and editor.

Narrative Magazine

Yes Magazine

Grist Magazine

Cricket Media (several magazines for kids)

Bird Watcher's Digest

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