Writer’s Submission Guidelines: The Importance of Staying within the Parameters
by Donna M. McDine
At a young age many of us are taught to follow directions, especially for school assignments and projects. As freelance writers it’s equally important to do so when querying or submitting a manuscript. Each publication or publishing house has their own submission guidelines that they expect the writer to read and adhere to. Said guidelines are the gateway to getting through the first step of the review process. Don’t make the assumption that most magazines follow the same guidelines, they do not. Treat each as an individual and research and learn about them before submitting.
Editors and publishers are swamped by hundreds even thousands of submissions a day and if a writer cannot follow simple submission guidelines, editors will not have the inclination to continue reading your manuscript. The lack of following guidelines, gives the impression that the writer did not do their homework by studying the magazine or catalog and reading through their submission guidelines. Therefore coming across as a writer who will not be easy to work with throughout the editing process. Another important point to make is for the freelance writer to utilize the proper chain of communication. Even if you come across the personal email for the editor or publisher in your travels through cyberspace, do not use that in your email communication. Use their business email address as indicated in their submission guidelines. Do not come across as an amateur. Keep your email professional and free of a laid back attitude.
For instance, if the submission guidelines state the word count for fiction is 500 words, stay within the count. To the average person it may not seem important, but for the freelance writer it’s imperative to do so. Even going over by a few words can mean instant rejection. Magazines work off of space requirement formats and even if your manuscript is brilliantly written they will most likely not have room for it. For example, Guardian Angel Kids Ezine http://www.guardian-angel-kids.com/submissions.htm has different word counts for different categories, so just don’t assume that because there is a 500 word count for fiction that it covers all categories.
Many magazines also follow a monthly theme or particular interests, so don’t just send off your manuscript without finding out first. What good would your baseball manuscript be for a magazine that is seeking animal manuscripts? None. It’s a complete waste of time for you and the publication. Again you will come across as not doing your research, an instant turnoff for many editors and publishers. You will also find the term requirements (i.e., “purchase all rights”), deadline for submissions, formatting instructions, email or snail mail submission, contact information, and response time within the submission guidelines. These are all provided to make the submission process and receipt of submissions smoother for both writer and publisher. Submission guidelines do change over time, so before you send off your manuscript double check the publication guidelines and cross reference that you are in compliance.
Writing the manuscript is just one aspect of a freelance writing career, research of publications and publishing houses submission guidelines is imperative to your success. Be thorough in your research and it will help guide you to forming good solid relationships with editors and publishers. Breaking into the publishing world is hard work and don’t make it more difficult by rushing through the submission process.
Donna M. McDine
Award-winning Children's Author
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.