Welcome back to Real World: Editors, where we find out what happens when editors stay polite, but also start getting real!
The next two parts will focus on submission pet peeves and how to keep things as easy as possible on both sides of the submission manager.
Episode 3: Submission Pet Peeves
What are things you'd advise submitters not to do? What might a really well-intentioned submitter (ie, not someone who sends a diatribe in response to a rejection) might be doing that comes off badly?
Kaitlyn Andrews-Rice, Split Lip Editor-in-Chief:
So this isn’t really a pet peeve and definitely won’t lead to a future rejection, but I want to send out this writer PSA: there’s no need to send a “thank you” email to a rejection. We love the sentiment, but we’re often overwhelmed with email and it’s simply unnecessary. That said, if you want to say thank you, no problem! We love you either way.
Marianne Chan, Split Lip Poetry Editor:
I love our submitters, and I would forgive them anything (almost). I get turned off by incredibly long bios, but I wouldn’t care if the poems are great. Also, poets, you should know by now that font is super important! Nix the Courier, the Comic Sans, and for the love of god, don’t use Curlz (I’ve seen this!). You could be the next Anne Carson, and I might end up rejecting your work because Curlz made everything you wrote seem crazy. Unless there’s a good reason for the wacky font, I say stick to Times New Roman, Arial, Garamond, etc. You wouldn’t wear a clown suit to a job interview, would you? No offense to clowns.
Maureen Langloss, Split Lip Flash Fiction Editor:
First, let me say that it’s super rare for an author to respond negatively to a rejection. In fact, it has only happened to me once in the past year, but it was a doozy and did involve mansplaining. I will never forget it. My only real pet peeve (and pet peeve is probably too strong a phrase) is when writers don’t follow our submission guidelines: when they single or single-and-a-half space (our readers have eyesight issues), when they submit more than one story at a time, or when they do not wait a month before resubmitting after a decline. Our submission queue can get quite long, and we like to give everyone an equal opportunity to be heard once before anyone is heard twice.
Ray Shea, Split Lip Memoir Editor:
The biggest pet peeve I have is writers who do not read (or ignore) the submission guidelines about length. I said I read every piece beginning to end; the only exception to that is something that is way over the maximum word count. For those pieces I read only the first paragraph and the last paragraph just to make sure I'm not passing over the next Joan Didion (hint: I haven't yet) and then I automatically reject them.
I've been spared the wacky font problem that plagues other editors, although I wish more authors would double-space and not use smaller than 12 point font. I've also been spared any angry retorts (unless Kaitlyn is hiding them from me). Every rare once in a while we get a polite thank you in response to a form rejection, and I find that endearing. Those writers are going to really go places.
Contrary to what you may have heard, there’s not much you can do in a cover letter (other than being an outright asshole) that will get you rejected, but I roll my eyes at people who are too “clever.” One thing I wish writers wouldn’t do: explain the piece. Your writing has to stand alone; let the cover letter be about you.
Katie Flynn, Split Lip Fiction Editor:
This is a rookie move that could be avoided: Don’t describe your story to me. I’m going to read it.
Sometimes I provide writers with constructive feedback and they get mad at me. If I take the time to send you feedback that means I’m impressed by your work and believe in it enough to share my thoughts. It also means I want to read more from you, so you may not want to yell at me.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Stay tuned to see what editors at other journals have to say about this question.