Sep 16, 2016, 06:57AM

Dear Submission Guidelines

I am sitting here trying to figure you out. 

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It's not easy when you’re more pretentious than my cover letter.

Honestly, I don't have a clue what you mean when you say, “Your writing must be original and vibrant.” I looked at some articles and sample issues, as you suggested, but I just don't understand how a movie review of Roots from the point of view of a black writer talking about the themes of race in the movie are original and vibrant. It seems like something any solid writer would craft. The sample looked like an average blogpost as well, with slightly better sentences and a flawless spelling streak. Could you perhaps explain more rather than just saying, “Please have a look at these samples to gauge our quality of work?"

I don't understand your qualifications for something “uniquely polished” either. I looked at the examples and don't see how a short story of a girl crashing her car and wandering the woods for hours on end is uniquely polished. That's a common story these days. You say nothing about genres, either. You just vaguely say that you'd accept anything except cliché fiction and nonfiction. It's really hard to form a coherent relationship when I have to guess what you like and don't like.

It's not becoming of you, either, to chastise me when I don't even have a solid grasp of what you want. Saying that any piece of writing that doesn't follow these vague and obtuse guidelines won’t even be read. Does something have to be completely off the wall to be considered past the first sentence? How close is an original stage script about a tap dancing foot that goes on a quest to save the prince from bad hair gel? Does that meet your confusing demands?

I do enjoy your opening paragraph though: the one that's been copied and pasted from every other guideline on the market. The paragraph that says you’re looking for writers who will try something new and really wow you. This makes me feel good because, if you'd take anything that wows you, then I have a pet mouse that can make an O with some paint on his feet and some cheese placed in a circle on a white piece of paper.

If you can't even adequately tell me what you are looking for then I can send in a poem about a dying roach that yodels and produces tap dancing bunnies by sheer will. Your wording makes me think I can send in almost anything, especially since you didn't do a good job of telling me what to send and not to send. The phrase “nontraditional work,” by the way, makes me think I can send my break-up letter in for publication. That's definitely non-traditional work. Plus, it hooks the reader and keeps them interested. I don't understand why that wouldn't fit your qualifications. Do you see why you get so many unwanted submissions and unsolicited queries?

It doesn't help the situation much when I have to become an expert archaeologist to successfully track you down. Why can't you just nestle guidelines on the home page where everyone can easily see and click on them? I don't understand why you have to be buried under the “contact us” section that's not on the main page nor the footer of the website.

If you actually want me to follow your rules then at least put forth more effort in this relationship. 


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