Sorting Through Submission Calls

I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at submission calls, particularly for my anthology listing posts but also in general. I’ve noticed a few things that turn me off, that make me less eager to send a story to a given market, and thought it’d be fun (interesting, informative — at least entertaining) to make a list. Stealing a gimmick from one of my favorite review sites…

Dear Editors:

== If there’s nothing in your submission call about what you plan to pay your writers, I’ll assume you’re not planning to pay us, and respond accordingly. Note that I shouldn’t have to click through to some other page to find the pay rate; if you’re paying then that info should be in the main call wherever it shows up, and if you’re not then that should be in the main call wherever it shows up. If you’re doing a for-the-love antho, step up and say so.

== When your list of things you won’t accept includes “anything racial” or similar, I have to wonder exactly what you mean by that. If it means you won’t take any racist work, why not say “anything racist?” Refusing to take any “racial” stories could easily be interpreted to mean you only want stories about white people — is that really what you intended?

== Glitches and errors in your submission call make me wonder about your editing skills.

== If your web site is hard to read because of choices you’ve made (medium to light text on a lighter but not white background, eye-searing colors, text of any color over a full color photo such that random words and letters fade into the background, that sort of thing) I’m going to wonder about what kind of cover you’ll choose, and whether I’d want my name on it.

== If your call is buried in your forum (and nowhere else clearly obvious) where topics churn often and there’s no permanent link to the vital submission info, I’ll wonder whether your records (scheduling, editing, sales, cash flow, etc.) are as chaotically organized as your communication with potential contributors. And about your professionalism in general — is it really not worth it to you to put up a simple web site with basic info in a stable format?

== Everyone’s entitled to their preferences, but if your guidelines page is dominated by an abusive, multi-paragraph rant about (for example [cough]) the stupidity and incompetence of any writer idiotic enough to ever use a semicolon, be aware that I’ll back away slowly and never submit anything to you, ever. And I’d probably do the same even if I didn’t generally use semicolons, ’cause dude, chill!

Anyone else have any to add…?


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Angela Benedetti lives in Seattle with her husband and a few thousand books. She loves romance for the happy endings, for the affirmation that everyone who's willing to fight for love deserves to get it and be happy with someone. She's best known for her Sentinel series of novels, the most recent of which is Captive Magic.

2 thoughts on “Sorting Through Submission Calls”

  1. This is exactly what the editors need to know.

    Unfortunately, since the things are misarranged so that they have the power — to choose your/mine/someone’s writing and to pay for it (whatever pittance amount it be), I doubt that they will heed it. :-((

  2. EW — I don’t see it as a misarrangement, actually. The editor is being paid to choose stories, or in the case of many anthologies, is fronting the money to the writers for a book that might or might not earn that money back. The writers aren’t the ones taking a risk at that level, so it’s fine with me that the person who is taking that risk gets to say yay or nay to story submissions.

    And really, editors can do whatever they want when they publish a submission call. Their book/magazine, their rules, and that’s how it should be. At the same time, though, I can do whatever *I* want when it comes to submitting to or passing on an anthology or magazine, because it’s my story and I make the rules about that. Mr. Semicolon Rant absolutely has the right to rant about whatever he wants on his webzine site, and writers have the right to read that and decide they don’t want to ever do business with the guy. Or maybe some writers agree with him and are happy to send him stories; that’s their choice too. He can do whatever he wants; I just hope he realizes the probable consequences.

    My point here was more to let editors know how I’m responding to what they say and how they say it, and to their overall presentation. I’m giving some feedback, so an editor can make sure that what I’m catching is what they’re pitching. It’s possible that the market that doesn’t want “anything racial” has no idea just how badly that can be interpreted, in which case they now have a chance to correct their wording to be more in line with what they want to say. Assuming they read this, of course. 🙂

    On the one hand, this post comes across as a bit snarky because in all seriousness, editors are in the business of words and associated communication modes, and if they’re messing up in how they communicate their submission notices, that gives an unfortunate impression that’s likely to hurt their business. But on the other hand, I really do hope this helps a few people.



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