We definitely appreciate the many submissions we receive for each issue of moonShine review. We love your writings, and I am here as an independent publisher to give voice to independent writers who are trying to have their first (or third, or tenth) unpublished work out there for the world to read. (Photographers, please note this post is about the writers submitting.)
But, sometimes, you make my job harder.
Perhaps it is my fault. Perhaps I made the guidelines too lengthy, too descriptive. I did that because, a few years ago, we found that about 50% of the writers who submitted did not follow our submission guidelines. I thought that was a result of us not being clear enough, so I rewrote the guidelines to be more exact, more precise, more detailed. It doesn’t seem to have helped. We still receive about 50% that do not meet guidelines.
As I said, we receive a lot of submissions. We really don’t have the time to wade through those that do not meet our guidelines, nor go back and forth with authors who do not provide what we need, in the way we require it. But we do anyway.
That results in me spending 50% MORE time to ready your submission for the judges. So, a submission that comes in meeting all our guidelines takes me about 5 minutes to process, and a submission that does not meet all the guidelines takes at least 15 to 30 minutes to process (depending on how many guidelines it does not meet and how many communications go back to the author).
Multiply that by the number of submissions, and you know why we don’t meet the dates we commit to for response or publication. (NOTE: The least number of submissions we ever received, during the first two years we were in publication, was 50. That still took up many hours.)
Those that follow the guidelines—THANK YOU! Those that don’t, please understand I really hate stressing this, but you cost me time and money. It’s cliché to say, yet there really are only 24 hours in the day. If I spend extra time on one thing, something else has to suffer. (I have a full-time job beyond this publishing endeavor, just to note.)
So, ask yourself this: Would you like me to spend my time on the process of logging in your submission or would you like me to spend my time considering the writing itself, reading IT carefully and giving you my full attention and you full credit for your writing?
Depending on your answer, you may or may not want to revisit our submissions guidelines page:
If you really cannot click the mouse and read the guidelines, then please, at least, meet my top 3 requirements (and I’ll even tell you why):
(1) Do NOT put your name anywhere on the piece itself—we judge anonymously. WHY is this important? Because you want to be judged on your writing’s merit, but from my perspective… it’s easy enough for me to revise a doc submitted via email in soft copy, but it still takes time. If you submit in hard copy, imagine yourself cutting and pasting little white strips of paper across names and personal info on every page of a story (white out doesn’t work, folks) and then scanning that into a computer —and scanning into the computer is not a matter of placing all the sheets into the feeder, but placing each page individually on the scanner face, scanning, saving, printing, then the next… and the next… and the next…
(2) Include ALL your contact info and your bio (mailing address, email, phone) in the body of the email or on a cover sheet when you submit. WHY is this important? I log every entry the moment it comes in, give it a number, and have a spreadsheet with all your info so that we know, when your piece is chosen, who to contact and where to mail your complimentary copy! In this, the hard copy submitters get it right 99% of the time, but email submitters don’t. It takes time to email back and forth to ask you for information you should assume I need in the first place.
(NOTE: I wanted to make #3 about how to format your story/piece, but I’ve almost given up on that happening.)
(3) Your bio needs to be 50 words or less and written in the THIRD PERSON. WHY is this important? We have limited space. I love your life stories, but I’m still going to edit them to 50 words (even when you do meet 50 words, if it’s in first person, I rewrite it in third person and have to adjust your sentences). I have rewritten so many bios over the years, I am very likely to screw something up! You don’t want me to be responsible for your bio not saying what you want it to say, but I have limited space and a printing budget. The stories take precedence. The bios are limited to 3-4 pages. If yours is too long, I will revise it, but I hate to. (And, almost as important, I suggest you make your bio creative, but I think I’ll change that to require. Our journal is all about creativity. You can list places you’ve been published, but give us something personal to share with the readers. Read my bio, or Leslie’s, or Beth’s, or the featured photographer’s every time, or any past issue to gain a perspective.)
My #1 would have been, just read the “about page” on our website, but if you want to, you already have. If you don’t, you never will. Still, I get at least 20 writers a season ask me this: “What theme do you have this time?” or “What is your journal about?” Among publishers, those are “Kill Questions.” It’s on the website.
Which brings me to… I’m not asking anything special of you that any other publisher wouldn’t ask. Read our guidelines. I trust you are serious writers: be serious “submitters” too. Respect me the way I respect you.
Thank you all for your continued support, and I really do value your input. If the guidelines are, in any way, unclear, please email me directly and let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org. I am ALWAYS open to feedback and improvement of our journal and our website.
Anne M. Hicks
Executive Editor and Publisher