As some of you know, Writer Abroad runs a writing workshop in Zurich. Every year, writers submit work for critique by our authors in residence, and every year, Writer Abroad is once again amazed by the number of writers who do not follow the submission instructions—even those who register for advanced workshops.
Forget great writing—yes, you must have that too—but as a writer, it’s easy to stand out from the crowd just by following submission instructions.
Over the last four years, here are some of the main problems Writer Abroad has observed while collecting submissions:
1. Writers don’t meet deadlines and think they should have an exception.
2. Writers submit up to 10 (!) more pages than is allowed.
3. Writers use single spacing instead of the requested double spacing.
4. Writers mess with margin sizes to cram as much text as possible on a page.
5. Writers don’t put their names on their files.
6. Writers don’t send documents in correct formats (when a .doc is requested, don’t send a .docx or a .pdf).
7. Writers use strange fonts (you should have a good reason to use anything other than Times New Roman).
8. Writers annoy gatekeepers by going around them.
9. Writers send several emails with different submissions, each time saying, “I changed my mind, use this one instead.”
Moral of the story? If you’re submitting something, make sure to check the guidelines. Then double-check them. Then triple-check them. Make sure what you’re sending is what you want to send even though this sounds obvious. Do all of this before you click send. It’s only professional. Editors, judges, and workshop coordinators everywhere will have a good impression of you from the start. Isn’t that what all writers want?
If you're an editor, writing judge, or other submission collector, what mistakes do you see writers making?