What Not To Do When Submitting a Short Story


Found at insidenova.com

About five days ago, I submitted a short story to an anthology. The publisher (who shall remain nameless for now) has some pretty strict submission requirements and I thought I had them all covered when I pushed the “Send” button in Gmail, but a few hours later, I got this:

Dear Mr. Pyles,

Thank you for your interest in XXXX anthologies! We are unable to accept your story at this time due to the following:

– missing story summary

– author biography does not meet minimum requirements of 100-200 words

Please consider resubmitting after previewing these links.

I won’t include the links here bu there were five of them. Yikes!

Initially, I was insulted and thought about firing back an irate email, but that’s no way to get published. Then, once I re-read their requirements and cooled off a bit, I realized I’d been stupid and cavalier about the whole thing. I’ve also been a bit spoiled by a number of indie publishers who have cut me more than a little slack in the past.

After all, I’ve written textbooks and self-study guides for some of the biggest publishers in the business, and I cheerfully jumped through each and every hoop they tossed at me. Why would I balk at doing the same thing for a fiction publisher?

So I learned something about myself. Then I wrote the story summary and expanded my short bio by quite a bit (I normally don’t think I’m interesting enough to require a long bio) and resubmitted the story (it also gave me a chance to add a paragraph to the tale that I belatedly came up with after my initial email.

I sent everything in and it looks like the publisher is now considering my tale.

None of this means my story will be accepted, of course, but at least I’m in the running. The moral of the story is to carefully read all of the publisher’s submissions requirements and follow them to the letter. Some periodicals and anthologies receive hundreds of submitted stories, and I can appreciate that the editorial staff doesn’t have the time to mess around with half-assed proposals.

Lesson learned.

2 thoughts on “What Not To Do When Submitting a Short Story

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