where the writers are
Follow the Leader

May is short story month.

I hope I'm not sounding like "knowledge-man" this month. I'm not by any means an expert (nor do I play one on T.V.), but I do love talking about writing, and I love the conversations that result - I've already had a few great tips and tricks pop up in comments, so that's a win. I'm not offering how-to here, I'm just enjoying the chat.

But if I did think I could offer advice? If there is one thing I can offer, it's this: read the instructions, and then follow them.

The vast majority of calls to which I've submitted have been more-or-less the same in format. There's a description of what the editor is looking for, usually with some rough guidelines or examples, and then a list of instructions about how they'd like to handle submissions, followed by a deadline.

That last part? It's a big deal. So is the first part. Also? The middle.

My day job involves people applying to work with me quite a lot of the time. The company I work for has a very specific series of steps to get to a potential interview. They're not especially difficult, but they do involve an online application process. I quite like this, as it's greener than collecting a whole wad of resumes I don't need, and quite frankly also shows me that they're willing to take a few basic steps. It's the least required.

Every week, I get at least one person who says, "Can't I just give you a paper resume?" Or "Can't I just leave my number?" or some other statement that basically says, "I don't want to follow your instructions."

So, why would I want to be your boss again?

Now, why would an editor feel different? There are reasons for every request in the call. Some of them might save the editor's time from problems that are easily avoided or pop up often - as a boss, I'm here to tell you that's a big deal. Some of them might be important in a way you don't realize. Some might even just be preferences. As a boss, I can't stand it when people are late. I warn people about it, so they know not to push my number one button.

So, actual advice? When you're sending in a submission, you're applying for a job. Follow the rules. Be polite. Show up on time - er, send in your submission on time. And don't wear jeans. Or, well... Actually, that doesn't matter.

You get the idea.