Maybe I shouldn't be, I don't know. Maybe this is how we identify a professional?
You know what? Stop. Stop trying to teach "writers" this one simple trick to getting published. Keep it easy on the rest of us. Any writer who has spent a hot minute playing acquisitions editor knows that getting published isn't easy, but it is NOT tantamount to winning the lottery. 500 submissions? Probably only 50 that can follow directions and did.
And you? Be merciless. If they can't be bothered, neither can you - toss the junk into the circular file and have done with it. That's why form-letter rejections were invented. As Tree says, it's exhausting.
Newbies are in a frenzy to be published. Quality of writing never enters their tiny little minds. They think their writing is so good, the editor will make an exception from the guidelines and send them tons of money and beg for more.
When the form rejection arrives? "That editor doesn't know good writing!"
It was a guy in the slush pile room sticking form rejections on cover letters. No one read it.
Take heart; you're not alone. I added a draft requirement for any new writers, and get all kinds of odd things that don't fit. I don't have a threshold for length, but I DO ask for many of the same things you've listed here. I'm always surprised at what shows up. For every one that delights me, I get 5-6 that make my head spin.
Also; when did it become a thing to submit unedited work?!
I can relate. That's why I have two inactive publications and am no longer an active editor for several others. Its exhausting.
Hang in there. Your publication is one of the chosen ones. That should pay off in the long run.
I have a couple of powerful women in mind. I'm deciding which one will be an interesting read.
So true and so strange. A few years ago I was one of the judges for a granting program. I was stunned by the numbers of applications with fancy font, 10 pt font, bios with too many words, and/or word count errors. Stunned because the guidelines were clear and simple. The only good thing about that was that it made it easy to eliminate a whole batch of entries.
You should see what gets sent in to our personal essay contests. Someone sent their resume in once!
Other commenters here are spot on. The number of people who are hustling newbies and either throw spaghetti at the wall and hope it sticks or think they’re above the rules far outweigh the number who are authentic writers and follow instructions. It must be frustrating, having to dig through all that muck for little nuggets of gold.
Some people don’t read instructions on anything. I also think that when editors reject stories without feedback or simply fix the transgressions without alerting the writer and print stories anyway, writers remain clueless and keep making the same mistakes. I understand why it’s not possible for editors to provide feedback most of the time, of course. I agree with Linda that writers are often so keen to jump on any call to submission, that they don’t do due diligence.
Gotta admit I've been guilty of this - not when I was a grantwriter, however. (Susan's comment) But I've submitted poems before becoming acquainted w/ the publication. (Outside the world of Medium, however. Medium, I research.) Re History of Women, I'd love to write about a woman in poetic form but never seem to get to it. Sigh. If I DO get it done, I promise I'll check whether poetry is submittable.
I hear you. And I see versions of this all the time in other activities and professions. An expanding crowd of people not reading, listening, thinking. It’s beyond understanding even though we can point to many of the causes. The fix? No idea.
Hi Linda, I enjoy your publication. I just sent you an article, the one about the singing nun? Unfortunately I think I accidentally deleted it from your publication. It was my error.
I was editing it and hit publish and I thought it went public, as in self published which was not what I wanted so I deleted it. But I think I actually deleted it from history of women which was not what I wanted.
Could you please take a look at it and republish it if you can? I’ve been reading a lot of your advice and I’m trying to implement it. Thank you.
Thanks, Kevin. I'll leave it there!
Hello Linda, is there a way to write to you? As in email? I have a question about a great article you wrote :-)
I've been trying to figure out how to rebrand my main publication, and reading this has given me a new view of it- and also simultaneously revealed why I was reticent to bother honing in on a voice for it in the first place. It's so much easier just to accept anything that stays within medium guidelines... But then there's no clear voice. And people don't want the chaotic cacophony of everything and anything all of the time. 🤦♀️
It seemed to work for Fuck Niches, so I thought it would work here. But they must have done something different I'm not aware of, forging a voice out of an apparent lack thereof. The owner admitted to publishing articles without any editing, stating if the writter decided it was good enough to submit, he assumed it was good enough to publish. Not sure how it gets on so well that way though. Maybe it's a lucky outlier?
I am pretty particular to deliver what is asked for. Seems there are many desperate writers out there. I wonder would a questionnaire help, where would be submitters must tick a box or write an answer before submitting. Like How many minutes? Is a dragon in your story? I don't know if that would work but maybe it would deter the free riders looking for instant fame.
Hey Linda, it can be annoying for sure! I currently edit at three publications: Prism & Pen, Choose Your Own Adventures (CYOA) Collaboration, and the Random Nerdiness Collective. I'm the luckiest for CYOA, since most there write good entries and follow rules. (I get the sense that fiction writers take their writiing more seriously on Medium...Maybe because people see fiction as art, while with nonfiction, some people think they can write just anything?) Still, writers occasionally need a pointer. E.g. Quite a few of them forget to add alt text. But they're generally just small things.
For the other two pubs, there's a lot more variation and trouble following guidelines. I think my co-editor (the pub owner) of Random Nerdiness Collective is too softhearted and kind. There were some pieces I would definitely reject, e.g. because it's hard to understand (and we're not paid to be line editors), it's written for a technical audience, or the writer didn't bother to attribute any of their many photos. But he just takes them and edits them anyway, ugh.
We had talks and he sympathizes. But our agreement for now, is that if they fall on my days, I would reject without hesitation.. If they fall on his days, they could possibly be let in. I don't think it's good to be inconsistent in our admission standards. But it's my friend's pub. I can't stop him from accepting a piece if he really wants to do all the editing work he shouldn't have to do. XD
For Prism & Pen, yeah, more often than not, the writer would miss something or another in our submission guidelines. Many are new. Many don't have subtitles even though we said we needed them. Many don't use all five tags. Or they don't attribute pictures. And so on. For some of these writers, I think they have trouble paying attention to detail, so they struggle with keeping all the rules in mind and applying them to their writing. At least they are appreciative when I give them feedback. Some of them give me stories that are only tangentially related to LGBTQ+ issues.
E.g. The writer is queer but they tell a story about their family where they only mentioned being gay once. And their identity has nothing to do with anything that happens in the story. I think some writers don't seem to understand that Prism & Pen isn't a place for queer writers to write just anything about their lives. It's supposed to be LGBTQ+ related, and substantially so, not just tangentially. And of course, allies are welcome to submit as well.
One writer recently told me he's new to Medium, so he's still juggling multiple demographic hats, and isn't familiar with writing specifically for publications yet. He's an older gay guy. He mentions being gay and that his husband passed away. But that was peripheral to the story. He was mostly talking about his friendship with a woman he met, which continued into old age. He then submitted the story to Crow's Feet, which is a much better fit for his story, yes. But he resubmitted his story without telling us. And he did this just two days after submitting to us! Gee, I had taken my rare days off, lol, and one of these two days was a Sunday...
For the writers who are sincere, I think many of them really struggle with following all guidelines (esp. newbies to Medium who still don't know how to write subtitles and therefore don't add one. Same with alt text, using 5 suitable tags, and proper image attribution. I'm super impressed when a newbie actually adds alt text, btw, lol. Even though it IS in our guidelines at CYOA.) Is it selective attention? Selective memory? Or maybe an honest mistake due to being unfamiliar with Medium and how formatting works?
I admit even I kept putting the image below the title and subtitle, because that's what you do in most pubs. But I later realized that in most erotica pubs, you put the image above the kicker, title, and subtitle! (The editors kept moving it for me and I didn't realize, lol.) I see myself as a pretty detail-oriented person who rereads submission rules repeatedly, but even I missed that. I think my knowledge of what "most pubs do" (picture below subtitle), led me to assume it was the same for them, so my eyes just skimmed over that rule and thought it was all the same as the usual, perhaps.
Some other people seem to have problems understanding topic focus. If our pub is an LGBTQ+ pub, then you write about an LGBTQ+ experience or issue. You don't just briefly mention a queer person somewhere as a minor character. You don't just vaguely hint that there could be romantic feelings between these two women (where it's totally possible to read them as platonic). You don't just write a story about your difficult childhood that has nothing to do with being queer (even though I can see that the writer is queer from readiing their bio/ About Me.)
Another thing is how writers seem to have difficulties understanding how to write specific, LGBTQ+ related titles for Prism & Pen. James wrote an entire post about that, haha. The funny thing is, I told a writer to use a specific LGBTQ+ term in the title, please. I even gave suggestions, such as "queer," "lesbian," or even "two mothers", etc. But nope. The author just gave me a literary sounding title that had no queer words in it. Is it just me, or do some writers have selective hearing (reading)?