Follow Directions

Dear Writers,

Please learn how to follow directions.

Please.

Seriously.

You are out of control.

I am going to be blunt. As a publisher, I need authors. I can’t publish magazines without authors. But understand that I do not, specifically, need YOU. You, right now, are only one author among the (currently) 303 authors with stories in my submission queues.

We publish between ten to twelve stories an issue for the Bards and Sages Quarterly. We publish six to ten stories an issue for the Society of Misfit Stories. That means I need less than one hundred stories a year to fill the pages of both magazines.

I have asked repeatedly over the years for authors to please, PLEASE, follow our submission guidelines. And maybe it is partially my fault, because I genuinely try not to be a bitch. I try to be a little forgiving if you don’t completely format according to our guidelines (I do, however, curse you under my breath for using the tab key. I will always curse you for doing that.) If something is a little over the word cap, I figure that during editing I can carve it down a little anyway. If my writers across the pond use British English, I’ll just convert it if we accept it for publication. I’m fluent in both American and British English, after all (I also have a working knowledge of Canadian English. I’m practically multilingual.)

The point is, I try not to be unreasonable.

But when I get submissions for the Best Indie Speculative Fiction project, which clearly says that it is for PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED stories and you send me an unpublished story, you aren’t following directions. You aren’t even trying. You are just spam-submitting to every publisher address you can scrape off the internet. When flash fiction stories of 300 words gets sent to The Society of Misfit Stories, which clearly is promoted as for stories of 5000 words or more, you aren’t paying attention.

This is grating beyond measure, particularly when we have a big, bold, red statement at the top of the submission guidelines page that says
PLEASE SEND SUBMISSIONS TO THE CORRECT EMAIL ADDRESS SO THEY CAN BE ROUTED THROUGH OUR SYSTEM EFFECTIVELY.

If I wanted all submissions to go to a single inbox, I would only have one email address for submissions. It would just be submissions@bardsandsages.com. But I don’t want all submissions to go to a single inbox. I need the different email addresses to manage the workflow. The different mailboxes provide me with much needed visibility regarding the volume of submissions for each project, so I know how many of each project to send to my editorial assistants for review and can judge how much time each submission should take.

If people are following directions, I know stories sent to the Quarterly address will be much shorter than stories sent to the Misfit address, which means I can estimate the amount of time needed to process submissions effectively without having to first open each submission and see what it is. But when you send a 20,000 word story to the Quarterly that was meant for the Misfit project, you are messing with our workflow.

Because my editorial assistants? You are screwing with their workflow, too. Because they have commitments to ME regarding the turnaround of submissions. And if I tell once of them, “You have ten stories for the Quarterly in your queue. How long is that going to take you to review?” They are going to give me a time frame. If they start opening those stories and discover those stories are actually TWICE AS LONG as they expected, now they might miss their deadline to me. Or feel obligated to work longer than they should have needed to,

You are being inconsiderate for no reason other than, what, you are too lazy to pick the correct email address? Trying to jump to the front of the line? What is your goal? Because all you are doing is annoying the crap out of me.

Effective July 3, 2019, we will no longer accept submissions for consideration sent to the wrong email address. We will reject the story unread. I am going to start rejecting stories that blatantly ignore our submission guidelines. I don’t have time to play with authors anymore. As a publisher, I need authors. But there are still plenty of competent authors with basic reading comprehension that can follow directions. I’ll work with them.

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