Saturday, November 29, 2003


It used to be so easy, you know? White paper, black type. 10pt Courier, double spaced, title and word count at the top, <end> at the bottom. SSAE for return of manuscript (noone but a fule use email). Sure, you'd make an amatuerish mistake or two at first, but once you knew the rules it was a piece of cake.

But the print market for unknown short-story writers (that would be moi) is pretty much a non-starter. The only chance for the grubby likes of us is webzines. And I swear, every single bloody publication out there wants something else.

First off, it's gotta be email. Most webzine editors turn their noses up at snail mail or 'dead tree' submissions. Fair enough. But how should I format this email? One wants you to attach your story in a seperate file; another wants you to paste the whole thing into the body of the email and jumps up on the chair screaming at the mere thought of an attachment. One wants .rtf, another wants .txt, yet another insists on Word, though Lord knows why. One wants you to italicise your italics using the Italic button, another wants you to use _underscores_. Yet another wants you to use HTML tags. One wants single-space, another wants double. One gets hives if you use a serif font, another gets the vapours in the presence of sans-serif.

What really gets me is that every single one of them thinks that his or her way is right. Their way is the only possible way that any sane, reasonable adult would ever submit anything, ever. And because they're so damn sure their way is the One True Way to send an email submission, zines that haven't been up for long or are run by people with little or no experience don't actually think to have this stuff in their bloody writer's guidelines.

Hint: if you want to play Big Grown-up Editor, create a proper bloody guidelines page (better yet, have a comprhensive guidelines page and an online submissions form, like Bloodlust-uk). Don't just wait for everyone to screw up and then kvetch about it in your editorial about how all these cretins get it wrong, because your cretinously wrong is likely to be someone else's self-evidently right.

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