Today I’d like to talk about writers’ guidelines. Sometimes I think we take them too much for granted and don’t give them the time or attention they demand. Writers’ guidelines come in all lengths and formats. They certainly come with variable degrees of helpfulness.
Some I’ve seen tell you no more than what size paper and font to use and little else of help. Others provide what amounts to a writing workshop on paper. When you find those that do offer helpful information, and they are publishers you want to write for, I encourage you to read and reread them carefully with a highlighter in hand. You might want to even use highlighters in two different colors. With one color highlight any comments that indicate this is an appropriate publisher for what you have to offer. In the other color, highlight anything that indicates the opposite—that you’re not likely to fit in there.
When you are finished and reread the highlighted portions, you should have a pretty good idea whether this is a publisher you should pursue—or if you need to move on to another one. Don’t waste your time or theirs by trying to pursue a publisher that doesn’t fit with your talents.
One other thing I want to say about guidelines is how important it is that you follow them. I’ve had more than one editor tell me that if a writer does not follow their guidelines they will not even consider their submission. Many of the publishers have their guidelines available right on their Website, so they are easy to access. Don’t skip this vital step in preparing to submit your material to any publisher.