Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pet Peeves

I really hate markets that force me to use a dictionary to figure out exactly what they want.  Of course the up side of that is I know for sure what I write isn't for them. :)

What are some of your pet peeves when reading submission guidelines?


pattinase (abbott) said...

Overly demanding formatting requirements. Accept my story and I will reformat it.

sandra seamans said...

Yes, I read one the other day that wanted paragraphs indented but didn't want you to use tabs, you needed to use a ruler?!? I miss the days where it was five spaces in for a paragraph.

Dusty said...

I like this one, "Submit well-written work."

As if I'm just picking out the biggest piece of crap on my computer and sending it to you. If people thought what they wrote wasn't well-written they wouldn't bother submitting.

Stephen D. Rogers said...

Hey Sandra,

When the important submission details are hidden within sprawling blocks of text.

What I would like to see at the top of the guidelines page:

submission email (if esubs)
requested subject line
editor's name
deadline (if any)


sandra seamans said...

That one always makes me chuckle, Dusty.

That would be so great, Stephen. The two markets I posted yesterday were set up like that. So great, because everything you need is at the top of the page. Right where they expect us to put our information. :) It's sometimes frustrating wading through a whole page of instructions to find out how much they're paying and when the deadline is. The worst is trying to find an editor's name. You never know where they're going to put that.

Dusty said...

Actually, you should never use tabs to indent. It can mess with reformatting and such.

Instead, go to Format>Paragraph>Indentation and choose First Line, then enter the amount of indentation you want. This process will vary by software.

And here's another pet peeve. If you look at Ralan's listing for it says, "Only accepts highly professional material"

Angie said...

I look at a LOT of submission guidelines, and my patience for ignorance and prima donnas was all used up a few years back. If you're dealing with other people's money, do your homework and have your act together before you advertise for business partners. No, you DON'T get a break for being a newbie. All the info on how to do it right is out there if you can be bothered to find it.

Some examples:

Ridiculous little pet peeves -- if an editor rants for half a page about the evils of semicolons, he's a whackjob and I don't want to work with him.

Weird formatting requirements. I'll convert a .DOC into an .RTF for you. I'll even turn it into a plain text file. But if I have to go through tweaking little details to your specifications, it's not worth it to me unless you're a major market paying pro rates. And guess what? None of the major markets paying pro rates demand any such crap.

Reassurances that you don't have to pay to be published. Umm, yeah, that should be assumed by anyone who's behaving like a pro. When they're stumbling all over themselves to hilight this, it's either a lie, in which case they're trying to scam you, or else they're a brand new baby publisher/editor who's actually a writer fresh out of the bottom-feeding scam swamp who doesn't know how the real world of publishing works. I suspect the latter more often than the former, but in either case, I'm staying away. Someone who means well but still has a hard time identifying a duck, much less getting several of them into a row, will cause you just as much trouble as a deliberate scammer.

No mention of payment on the main submission call page. I shouldn't have to go on an Easter egg hunt to figure out what they're paying, or if they're paying. If they don't say right up front, I assume they're not paying anything and move on.

[Note that no-pay anthos and zines are fine -- there are writers who just want to be published, which is cool. But whatever you're doing in the way of payment, from pro rates down to nothing at all, should be stated up front; no one should have to go hunting for it.]

Related to the above, if your guidelines say that short stories will be paid a flat rate but don't say what that rate is, I'm going to assume it's peanut shells and move on. If it were anything significant, you'd say so because it's a selling point for your book or publishing house to the writers.

Also related to pay rates -- if you're only paying $25 per story, you're not allowed to call your company or zine or book "professional," unless you're looking for stories of 500 words or less. Or rather, you CAN call yourself professional, but the rest of us will point and laugh.

If your antho announcement is one line, with a note that says to see your submissions page, consider linking to the subs page from that post. Short of that, consider linking to the subs page from some part of the structure of your pages so it shows up somewhere in the framework-- top, bottom, sidebar, somewhere. At the very least, have a link with "Submissions" somewhere in the button text on your home page. If you don't do ANY of these things, I'm going to eyeroll and stop hunting, and move on to the next call.

Related to the above, if I have to search through three or more pages on your web site to figure out what your theme is, your preferred format, how to submit, and what you're paying, you're doing it wrong. Two pages is pushing it

[Continued on Next Rock...]

Angie said...

[...Continued from Previous Rock]

A web site full of editing glitches, or one that's hard to read or navigate because of bad color or formatting choices. None of these things make me feel good about what my story is likely to look like after these folks get done with it.

Declaring that you own all rights to a work from the moment of submission. No, seriously, I've seen that. It's either a rights-grabbing scammer, or a clueless newb who thinks this is an effective way to prevent simultaneous submissions.

Editors who close an anthology early, or extend the deadline, or make some other significant change, without adding a note to the original announcement post. You know, the one everyone's been linking to...?

Related to the above, editors who cancel an anthology without making any announcement at all, especially if it was an "Until Filled" antho and people who've been accepted so far are just left waiting and waiting and waiting.... Editors who've died suddenly get a grudging pass, but there should be a note left somewhere telling your heirs to please make an announcement. (On the original submission call post.)

Angie, stopping before she needs to go dig up her blood pressure pills :P

sandra seamans said...

With Tor, I think they're looking for "name" authors but don't want to say so, Dusty.

sandra seamans said...

Welcome to the Corner, Angie! My thoughts exactly. If you make it too hard to understand/find what you want, when you want it, and how much you're paying I'm on to the next market.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I never know what they mean when they say don't use tabs. Just space in five spaces?

sandra seamans said...

You can set up tabs on the computer just like we used to on a typewriter (don't me how, I haven't figured it out :) ) I miss typewriters where you set up tabs and line spacing, and font was either pica or elite. I don't know why the programmers can't make something that simple.

And yes, in five spaces was standard for paragraphs on a typewriter but not so on a computer.

I get a kick out of guidelines that say use the Shunn method then proceed to say no double spacing after periods, one inch indentations, not five spaces, and inch and a half line spacing. Excuse me, but that isn't the Shunn method, idiots.

sandra seamans said...

And that's don't ask me how. God, I should proofread my comments better.