Are there certain events that make you nervous? I could write a long list. Just off the top of my head, but not necessarily at the top of that list, are these examples: having to rush at the airport, waiting on the results of a medical test, sitting in the dentist’ chair for a major procedure. When I taught school, I’d get nervous during FCAT testing. There are such strict regulations regarding the testing materials, the environment, the administration of the test itself, the time involved. Everything has to be accounted for. I remember once when the scratch paper the kids had used for their math problems couldn’t be found with the other materials I’d turned in. I was questioned about it. I think the papers were eventually found, but it was nerve-wracking. I have many FCAT stories, but that’s not what this post is about. I got off-track, so I’ll try to get back on task. (Still using those teacher terms even after retirement!)
Something else that makes me nervous is submitting a story or an article for publication. Sounds simple enough, but I am fearful that I’ll mess up. And I have. Once I sent off a story via snail mail that had the same page number on all the pages. It was only a 3 page story, so I’m sure they could figure out the order of the pages. There was a title page, and a page with “The End,” so I’m assuming the reader or editor could stick the remaining page in between. Once I misspelled a name in a ms, but I caught it before it was picked up by the mail carrier. I wrote about that incident in my post, “Waiting and Watching.”
I’m in the process of submitting my flash fiction piece to several online markets. Each has it own requirements for submission. One publication wanted it in the body of an email; another had their own Submission Form with fields and boxes. They wanted a cover letter, so I had to go back into docs and insert one as the first page of my story. Then I worried because I think the cover letter is too short. One magazine wants the story pasted into Notepad, with special instructions for words in italics and bold. Some of the publications want bios; others don’t. They have guidelines for the writer’s bio. Sometimes one will allow the writer to include social media links or contact information.
Each has special requirements for formatting. Single space. No paragraph indents. One space between paragraphs. Single space. Paragraph indents. Double space between paragraphs. It’s important to read carefully. Attachments are permitted for some sites, but others say your piece will automatically be rejected if sent in an attachment.
It’s hard to send the same story to different places.
Submission guidelines are clear on some of the websites, but others leave unanswered questions. Most will say if they take simultaneous submissions or not. One e-zine had a devil-may-care attitude. The guidelines said something like, “If your work is accepted elsewhere, good for you! We’ll publish it anyway.” That may be okay for them, but the other site may not be so happy about it.
I’m sure magazines that accept mss by regular mail, as well as those that prefer electronic submissions, receive plenty of poorly-written, unedited work riddled with grammatical and spelling errors and everything in between. I know there are writers who think rules do not apply to them, and they will do it their way or bust. Then there are people like me who are paranoid and so hell-bent on doing it the right way it creates a case of nerves. What makes it pathetic is the fact that most of these markets are non-paying markets! Yep. I go through all that grief just to see my little unknown name and bio at the end of a story.
Have you ever flubbed a sub? Share your story here. I won’t judge!