Submission Guidelines Q&A!

I am not clear as to the why of the volume of strange questions I have received regarding our submission guidelines, but let’s suffice it to say I have gotten enough that I decided it may be time to clarify a few things.

First and foremost, the guidelines exist for one purpose and one purpose only: To make my life easier. As I have mentioned repeatedly, Bards and Sages Publishing is not my full-time job. It is a passion project that makes money, but not my sole source of income. So the submission guidelines are meant to make my life easier.

I do not intend to imply that our guidelines should be some standard. I don’t even pretend they are the norm. These are what works for me, and if you want me to pay you for your story, your goal should be to make me happy.

Question: No headers or footers means no page numbers. You don’t want page numbers?

No, not really. Because you are sending me a digital file that, at most, is going to be maybe ten total pages that I am not printing. I am reading from my tablet or computer. I don’t need the page numbers. If for some weird reason I need a page number, there is a little bar at the bottom of the screen that tells me what page of the document I am on.

All your footer is doing is created an extra step for me if I buy your story, because I will need to strip it when I strip all the other random formatting from your story to add it into my publishing template.

The notion of needing to include headers with your name and story title is a throwback to decades ago when every submission was on paper, and the headers and page numbers helped keep the pages in order should they get separated. When working with digital files, this is not a concern, so they are not needed.

Question: Why won’t you accept PDFs?

I could go into a long explanation about the risk of viruses and security issues, but the reality is simpler. Most people really don’t know how to format a PDF properly so it can be edited for publication. I work from a template that I cut-and-paste stories into, and then tweak and format as needed. PDFs need to be formatted in a very specific way to even allow cut-and-paste that preserves the paragraph structure and even letter consistency.

If you have ever read an ebook that had bizarre formatting or what looked like gibberish, it was most likely a scanned PDF that became corrupted from bad source format…and nobody went back and corrected.

Question: You sent me a rejection within ten minutes of my submission. Did you even read it?

No. I rejected it unread, just as I said I would in the submission guidelines because you sent me a link to Dropbox to download the file instead of sending me the attachment as instructed. I am not creating accounts at every conceivable file-sharing site for the priveledge of downloading potentially virus-loaded files from random strangers on the internet.

Question: I have a long list of publishing credits. Why don’t you want me to include them?

Because nobody is going to read them. Because I don’t care. Because half the time the list of publishing credits are publications I’ve never heard of, or unpaid markets, or publications that went out of business a decade ago. None of that is going to impact our decision, so we aren’t going to waste time reading any of it. The only time I want to hear about a previous publication is if you are submitting a story as a reprint, in which case, I would want to know where it was previously published so I can confirm rights releases and such if we accept the story.

I don’t care about your awards. I don’t care about your multiple writing degrees. All I care about is the quality of the story being submitted. If anything, this should be LIBERATING for authors because it means I don’t expect you to “already have a platform” before I will consider your work.

If we accept the story, we’ll get all your accolades later to include in your author bio at the back of the issue. But don’t waste keystrokes adding it to the email.

Question: What is with the Woke stuff about trigger warnings and representation? You don’t publish stories by white people?

(Yes, this is a real question I got…through a Direct Message on Twitter…because of course through Twitter.)

While my reviewers are trained to look at specific things in a submission, they are actual people, not A.I. programs scanning documents for keywords. What that means is that they have personal preferences, and personal pet peeves. Because I have worked with them for a number of years, however, I know their preferences pretty well. So by alerting me to these things up front, I can send your story to the reviewer most likely to give you a favorable score.

Unlike a lot of publishers, I am not looking for excuses to reject a story. I am trying to give authors every opportunity to get a story accepted. However, if you want to give me an excuse to reject a story, keep misusing the word “woke.”