Following the Rules

I feel like we’ve said this many, many times – and I know Editrix Sarah has certainly gone over this many a time with people – but it’s worth reiterating, because it never seems to sink in:

When submitting, follow the rules.

We did not write submission guidelines for our health. We wrote them to make the process easier and more streamlined, to make sure that queries get where they’re going, and to make sure that your work is handled respectfully, diligently, and in a timely manner.

Once again, we’ve been getting a rash of queries to personal emails instead of to our submissions inbox. This means that your query or mss might get lost in the wild jungle that is a personal inbox, rather than immediately and correctly routed to our submissions system for consideration.

You don’t want that, do you? You don’t want your lovingly crafted, carefully cultivated manuscript to get eaten by a pack of angry spam, right? Or trampled by a herd of email-gnu?

No. No, you don’t.

So follow the guidelines. The rules are there to help you present your work well. Give us what we ask for – no more, no less. Give it to us in the format we ask for – don’t go making changes to that form, because it WILL delay your manuscript’s consideration…if we bother to consider it at all when you break the rules.

Breaking the rules when submitting doesn’t show initiative; it doesn’t make you stand out in a good way. It makes us think that you don’t respect our time, our effort, or our working methods, and that you’re going to be a pain in the neck to work with, even if you’re a literary genius of unparalleled skill.

And you know what? Life’s too short.

So seriously. Follow the rules. They’re not hard, they’re not crazy, they’re not there to impose on you. They’re there to structure things simply and efficiently for all our sakes.

Corollary 1: Yes, this also applies to agents. Possibly moreso, because you should know better. We can forgive – maybe – newbie authors who are really eager to get their work out there. But you do this for a living. You have submissions and query guidelines of your own. You probably don’t like it very much when people ignore those…so why do you ignore our directions?

Corollary 2: This goes for applying for jobs, too, folks. Searching out someone’s personal email and attempting to circumvent the clearly outlined application process does not make you “stand out” in a beneficial way. It makes you look like either a brown-noser or a jerk with no respect for our time and methods. If you can’t follow the rules and abide by the guidelines in a job application, what on earth makes you think someone will consider you a good candidate for a position that also requires getting other people to adhere to guidelines and styles and rules?

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