Weary after an unsuccessful period of submitting right, left and centre, I have started to refine my criteria for deciding where to send work in the future and wondered what the process would look like from the other side. For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts:
PART ONE - GUIDELINES FOR PUBLISHERS SEEKING SUBMISSIONS
Please read several examples of the writers’ work to get a feel for what is being offered. There are numerous examples of previously published work available online and we urge you to sample some of then to understand the range and variety of writing that is out there.
We are interested in publications that that offer quality writing without sounding pretentious about it. You know the kind of thing we mean; We want prose that bristles with invention and verse that pushes against boundaries. Give us your vividness, your weird, your imaginative, and so on. Get over yourself.
We require acknowledgement of receipt of our work and an indication of when a response may be expected. We believe a two or three month response time is a reasonable one and would greatly appreciate something more along the lines of four weeks, to be honest. It is our expectation that the response date will be adhered to.
Simultaneous submissions must be accepted. With so many publications out there we are sure that you will appreciate that writers cannot be expected to leave their work with just one editorial team for a long period of time. If your publication decides to use our work we expect you to let us know at the earliest opportunity so that it may be withdrawn elsewhere.
We appreciate being paid for our contribution and expect at the very least to receive a free contributors’ copy.
Please continue sending us your invitations to publish. If we don’t initially accept you, don’t be disheartened. It often takes a few queries before we decide to go with your publication. You may at any time use the Tip Jar invitation (currently $3.). This will not in any way affect our decision to submit to you but it will be much appreciated by struggling writers everywhere.
If you have published our work previously please feel free to approach us after one subsequent reading period.
If, after offering publication, you have not received a response from us within 2 hours please send the neighbours around to check that everything is all right.
PART TWO - GUIDELINES FOR WRITING COMPETITION ORGANISERS:
This one is not tongue-in-cheek. We know you want our entries. You will appreciate that there are numerous competitions out there, of varying prestige, some with modest prizes, some with large ones. Here’s what might stimulate us to enter yours:
* The judge will be the sole reader of the entries. We know this might not be practical for competitions that attract huge entries, but there is nothing more off-putting than the dreaded words, a panel of readers, or filter judges who screen the entries before the judge reads a handful. The anonymity of this process is to open to abuse. Who are these filter readers? Students? Writers? The chairman’s sister’s book group? No, we want the judge or judges to be the sole arbiters.
* A decent entry-fee-to-prize money ratio. £5 for a £100 doesn’t cut it. For £250? Maybe. Competitions that offer a bargain rate for three poems, or three pieces of flash fiction also get our vote. Simply multiplying the fee by the number of entries doesn’t cut it. Quite a few competitions offer this; why not think about it?
* Overly-prescriptive suggestions for formatting or style/form don’t cut it.
* Specifying when and where the results will be announced is greatly appreciated (and should be mandatory, methinks.) It is not good enough to say that only winners will be informed, especially if there is no information about when that will happen. If automated e-mail notifications can’t be sent to entrants, the competition - when it opens - should state where and when the results will be announced. This might be on a dedicated Facebook page or affiliated website. We are not crazy about announcements by certain dates. We prefer on those dates. If an unavoidable delay occurs, then please advise us of that, by the above means and by the relevant date. We know that judges and organisers are human. So are we.
Please don’t be offended is we do not choose to enter your competition. There could be any number of reasons, some of them listed above. In the end if often comes down to personal taste and yours may appeal to a different demographic altogether.
Thank you for reading.