If you have had experience in writing, you have probably heard this question before. As you may guess, there are several complicated factors that determine the answer. If you, like so many of us, are dealing with a recent "no," you might be wondering what happened.
It was a great article.
You were careful to avoid spelling and grammar errors.
You have a social platform, sorta.
So what could be the problem? Other than the big trap of not fitting in with the market, there are other obvious problems. Yes, I said obvious. So why blog about them? Because I've seen them happen over and over again. Many pieces do not get published because the submission guidelines were not followed. It is simple to avoid that problem, yet many of us run into it.
Why are guidelines important?
The guidelines give you every possible tip to get published in that market. Publishers have space requirements, deadlines, content matter, concerns about rights, and several other necessitates to put together that publication. If a publisher makes one exception, they need to do that for other authors to be fair. And that will just turn into a slippery mess.
Will ignoring the guidelines (or worse - not reading them at all) effect my submission?
Absolutely! An editor can tell who has read the guidelines and who has not just by the cover letter and the format of the submission itself. Did the author use the correct font and size? Did they attach the submission in the e-mail or did they paste it in the e-mail? Was the author supposed to send a bio? What about a bibliography? Did the subject line in the e-mail match the instructions from the guidelines so it would not get lost? These are just the beginning steps of opening a submission. However, if an editor sees the guidelines weren't followed this far, they already may have a "no" on their mind. You could be the most experienced author, but if the guidelines are not followed, the odds are against you.
A Clear Example
For example, I recently accepted a submission for My Light Magazine from a new author. I already knew just by opening the e-mail that the author read the guidelines and did the research necessary to acquire publication.That spoke more to me than any cause the author could have made for their work. They showed respect for their work and my work by thoroughly following the correct avenues.
The guidelines are just that: guides. They are your guide to publication.