Imagine their problems in trying to help those who won’t help themselves.

A magazine article for writers spelled out hundreds of formatting requirements for submissions to agents or publishers. I read the advice with painstaking patience, but when I had finished reading, I had to think. It seemed so arrogant and demanding of them to require such detailed adherence to their formats and to make the threat that not conforming earns your manuscript the circular file. I had to smother my resentment. Any writer is naturally creative, so it’s akin to wearing handcuffs.

I thought again. Fortunately, my creative nature allows me to walk in their shoes — that little exercise made clear the benefit I could receive.

I picture the agent or editor sitting in the office sipping on a morning coffee when the secretary enters with one thousand submissions for the day. (I can exaggerate. I’m a writer. I’m sure they do.)  

  1. The first submission has a cover letter running five pages giving the author’s history including her experience with a nasty divorce.
  2. The second manuscript is printed single spaced with light blue ink on colored paper. Pretty and unreadable.
  3. The third is printed in columns.
  4. The fourth has the required three chapters but each is stapled firmly and one is covered with coffee stains.

PLUNK!  THUD!  BANG!  THUMP! Into the wastebasket they go until she sees one respectively addressed to her, presented in her required format, clean and easy to read. She sips her coffee and settles to work.

I want my “audience” to pay me that kind of attention, so I’ll follow all the rules I can, but—-If I miss one rule, please know I tried to abide, so please take my side and don’t crush my pride.

At least read it.

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