Don’t you get frustrated when you finish something you think is really good, submit it, and then find out you did something wrong? For example, maybe you formatted it incorrectly or forgot something that was supposed to be included? I entered a short story contest a couple of weeks ago, and I formatted it like I do the articles I send via email. Tonight I ran across an article that explains that short stories aren’t formatted like nonfiction. Who knew?
Now I’m obsessing over that story, wondering if it will be tossed in the recycle/trash can without being read because I didn’t indent the first line of each paragraph and I double spaced between paragraphs. Or maybe I did it right, but I don’t remember. It was submitted via a form on the contest site, and all I have to go by is the original, un-indented story on my hard drive.
I wish I knew how important the finer points of submitting really are. There is so much conflicting information that it’s clear there isn’t a standard rule—just standard guidelines. In the absence of stated guidelines, you’d think anything would be acceptable as long as it was readable. Right?
On the bright side, if my entry doesn’t win, I can always tell myself it’s because it got rejected without being read. That might be better for my self-esteem than thinking it’s because the story wasn’t any good.
I’ve added a couple of helpful sites to my original post on formatting manuscripts, which seems to be the most popular post on my blog. Since I’m obviously not an expert on this, I recommend that you take a look at some or all of the sites I’ve mentioned before you submit anything. Maybe it will save you some frustration.
Do you think editors and agents are looking for excuses to eliminate manuscripts so they have less work, or do you think something like formatting is too minor to affect their decision? How do you deal with frustration: by eating comfort foods, working harder, whining, or some other method?