Learning to Be an Author
I've come to the conclusion that people who ask for submissions for works to publish might be petty control freaks.
Just go to any online magazine and click on their submissions link, then roll your eyes at all of the crazy formatting requirements for your submission. Each is slightly different, but most demand some kind of antiquated font, margin and spacing requirements and specific ways to address them in a cover letter.
And these are the people who largely control whether you'll start to get noticed in the writing world.
There was a time, during the days of typesetting, that things had to be just so in a manuscript. You couldn't change a font with a simple "Ctrl + A" then a click of a mouse. You couldn't add spacing on your own.
This is not 1919, though. In 2019, we ought to be able to accept manuscripts that come to us in a readable format. Instead, I feel like a kindergarten student having to follow the teacher's directions just to have a shot at hearing the likely "no" from the publisher.
I simply cannot imagine being so off-put by a font or spacing or choosing to indent a first paragraph that I would throw my hands in the air and refuse to publish (nay, flat out refuse to read) what might possibly be the next masterpiece of fiction.
Now I have not yet learned this lesson the hard way, but I'm waiting for it, because sometimes the directions are so confusing that I'm bound to mess up.
I might also point out that we live in a day and age where we could simply create a web page in which the author can simply paste the text into a form. It can then be automatically formatted into your obsessive-compulsive demands.
My work gives me a lot of freedom in terms of formatting things. I am not used to boundaries and demands for things such as double-spacing and Courier font. Not even the helpful bloggers on the internet can give you a crystal clear definition (or god forbid, a template). These people could possibly put Nigel Tufnel and his sandwiches to shame.
I'm not advocating that people send things out in crazy curly fonts that are impossible to read, but one ought not to be summarily rejected for submitting something in Georgia font instead of Garamond. It isn't a deal breaker.
And yet, these publishers threaten writers with out-of-hand rejections for failing to follow their sometimes unclear directions.
It's yet another reason that I've decided to heavily invest my time and efforts into self-publishing. I'm not sure I want to participate in a world of control freaks and subjective (read: arbitrary) judgments which block my work from reaching the word because my margins aren't exactly one inch all the way around.
(If you are one of these people, or you have been rejected because of formatting issues, I'd love to hear your stories. Please comment!)