I think I’ve reached my lowest possible ebb on this particular subject.
We reopened for submissions at the beginning of this month having cleared a rather heavy backlog, and when we did so, we deliberately reopened with much simpler guidelines.
Gone were the detailed formatting instructions, the list of specific exclusions, and all the hard bits, even the need to send the entire manuscript was removed. We do, however, reluctantly continue to exclude the publishing of poetry, non-fiction and children’s work but other than that there are no exclusions on the page.
This is the core guideline:
"In the first instance please send an e-mail to ... telling us about yourself, with a short synopsis (not chapter by chapter) of your book together with a minimum of the first chapter of your book as an attachment in Word .doc or .rtf format. Please indicate whether you have completed the book. If your manuscript is shorter than 10,000 words please send the complete story. You must tell us if it has been previously, or is currently, published or self-published."
You’d have thought that was pretty simple, wouldn’t you? Nobody could get that wrong, could they?
Oh dear... can they ever.
Of six submissions sent in from authors we don't know so far:
1. Nothing about the author, nothing to say if it was already completed.
2. The first three chapters of the book were included in the body of the document.
3. No synopsis, and nothing about it having been published – a twenty second search showed it on Smashwords. Nothing about how complete the manuscript is.
4. A short story (in the author’s words about 5,000 words), only the first section attached, again nothing about the author.
5. Met the guidelines but adds, no one has accepted my book for publication because they just don’t “get” my sense of humour.
6. From the same author as number 5, ditto.
Two out of six meet the guidelines, and those two have broken a rule that shouldn’t need to be spelt out – don’t alienate the publisher, and especially not by criticising other publishers for rejecting the book.
Someone, please shoot me so I wake up from this nightmare.