1. Nicholas C.
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    Nicholas C. Active Member

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    Simultaneous Short-Story Submission

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Nicholas C., Aug 29, 2011.

    (.. say that 5 times fast o_O)

    So what is the deal with magazines and e-zines that accept simultaneous submissions? Does this mean that they'll allow you to be published over multiple places or do you have to just go with one and notify the others to not publish? And do authors still submit to some sites that don't allow simultaneous submissions? Sorry, kinda new to this. :redface:
     
  2. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Accepting simultaneous submissions just means they don't mind if you send it to more than them at the same time. However, if another place accepts it and you wish to go with the first acceptance, it's usually polite to let them know it has been accepted elsewhere. It does not mean they will publish it if it has been published elsewhere.

    And yes, I would say most authors of short stories submit to multiple places whether the publishers allow simultaneous submissions or not. The process of rejection or acceptance takes far to long to really consider doing otherwise and magazine publishers realize this. Theoretically, if one in five places would accept your short story and you took two to six months between each submission because you waited for a response, you could very well be sitting on your story for more than two years.

    In the end, the worst thing they can do is reject you if you fail to obey their simultaneous submission policy.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Editors remember, though. I had one guy whose piece I was going to buy who had submitted it elsewhere, and we explicitly did not take simultaneous submissions. I made a note, and the next time he submitted I told him we weren't interested in submissions from him, and why.

    Disregarding guidelines because you don't like it is amateurish. If you don't like a publication's guidelines, you don't submit to them.

    Your reputation is a big part of what you have as a writer, in the long run, and publishers and editors are a smaller community than you think.

    It's also dishonest. As a publisher, I decide under what conditions I am willing to entertain submissions. As an author, you decide under what conditions you are willing to submit. I don't deceive you into submitting to a market you don't want to submit to, and you don't deceive me into considering work I don't want to consider. That's how professionals handle it.
     
  4. Nicholas C.
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    Nicholas C. Active Member

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    I definitely understand both points. A bit of a quandary it is...

    Steer, have you had cases as an editor where you have bought a story only to discover that the author had had it published in addition to your publication?
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    No.

    I'm not an editor now, btw. And we did accept reprints, so prior publication wasn't an issue (but it was rare to take a reprint, in practice).

    I was a writer before and after being an editor, and I do publishers the courtesy of following the guidelines I am tacitly agreeing to when I submit. If I don't like something in guidelines, I have no problem scratching that market off the list :)
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This really only makes sense if the professionalism is on both sides. I can understand an editor saying "I don't accept simultaneous submissions" PROVIDING he's also willing to guarantee a response to the author in a very reasonable time frame. It is not reasonable for an editor to hold onto a writer's story for six months or more before responding to him - that's a large portion of the writer's working life! It's not fair to just toy with a writer's career like that. It doesn't take long to read a short story and decide whether you want it or not. The editor has a responsibility, as a professional, to respond to a writer quickly.
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    That's where you get to decide not to submit to that market. I do that all the time - take response time into consideration if they're not taking simultaneous submissions.

    Deciding that you don't like it, but then pretending to agree anyway just so you can have your way is juvenile, imo. And amateurish :)

    Editors who can't turn a work around in a reasonable time may also be unprofessional, and you should avoid those markets.

    But keep in mind that while short stories don't take long to read, large volumes of them do.
     
  8. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    They must build up quite the list then. I know of a few magazines and literary journals that have changed their policies regarding it because the majority of submitting writers were doing it anyway. Glimmer Train dropped its stance against simultaneous submissions because of the competitive markets writers are faced with nowadays, and I'm sure it isn't the only one.

    So I'm not saying it's right, but it's becoming the norm of what's happening. Personally, I just don't bother with the magazine and journal publications that don't allow it. They're not worth my time, and that's my choice, but I don't expect any real harm would come to you (or your reputation) for breaking this particular rule. I mean, more than likely it will land you in the rejection bin, so there's not much point in wasting their time or yours. But if you...you know, really wanted to, for whatever reason, why let a little rule slow you down.
     
  9. Banzai
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    I don't agree with this. Magazines, publishers, etc, have submission guidelines for a reason: namely to make it easier for the slush readers and editors to do their jobs. They get many, many submissions, and most of the guidelines are aimed at allowing them to get through them with the minimum of fuss.

    The simultaneous submissions rule is there so that the situation doesn't arise where an editor likes a submission, sends an acceptance letter/email, only to have the author respond "Oh, sorry, I've already sold it to someone else". Which wastes everyone's time and is very rude.

    Even the markets which accept simultaneous submissions require to you to immediately notify them if you sell it to someone else. Deciding that rules don't matter, failure to do this exacerbates the rudeness, and is more than likely to get you blacklisted. Publishing is a very close knit business. Publishers talk to each other, and will share stories like that.

    Yeah, you might not get caught, but the consequences if you do can be very severe. In the end, I just think it's safer and easier to follow the damn rules.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    listen to steerpike and banzai!

    if you want to be a pro you need to act like one...
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    An amateur sentiment. I'm talking about people who are professionals and act accordingly (and expect to be treated accordingly).

    If markets change their guidelines, then great. That is a decision they get to make.

    EDIT: I shouldn't necessarily use the word amateur. I know people who haven't sold a story yet who have enough integrity and sense of their own honor and reputation that they don't agree to something just to get their way, having no intention of following through.
     
  12. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Your publication or whatever you were working for has every right to react as you did, but it's simply bad advice in today's publishing climate to suggest writers don't submit stories to multiple places regardless simultaneous submission expectations.

    Honesty, reputation, blah blah. It's all basically BS peddled by the few publications who are either not up with the times or in most cases think they're so special that writers should have to wait ages to get a story even looked at.

    It may be dishonest, but it's also simply the smart thing to do as a writer of short fiction. Plain and simple. The irony of it is that the writers who can afford to sit on one story at one publication for ages are usually the ones who've already found success and then don't have to wait, as their story goes to the top of the pile. The writers fighting for any shred of a break can't afford to wait so long on every single story, or they'll find themselves never making a name for themselves.

    The problem, as always, is that the old standards in the industry are often the slowest to respond. Most upstart or publications on the cutting edge gave up not allowing simultaneous subs long ago, knowing it's not feasible for the writer and that people ARE going to do it anyway, so may as well not be slow to respond and instead just work around it by allowing them and then expecting honesty and open communication.

    And, it DOES actually take a really long time reading and responding to all the submissions most journals get. That's the problem. The industry is drowning in submissions, and they're starting to have to work smarter.

    In a few years, to help alleviate the increasing height of slush piles, I expect more publications to simply never take unsolicited manuscripts (the older, more traditional, conservative publications that aren't responding well to things and still insist on no simultaneous subs), or, for the more cutting edge publications, I expect seeing co-ops, basically, where a group of magazines will hire mutual readers in charge of doling out stories appropriate for markets. Especially since one of the problem is that many publications are reading a good portion of submissions that, no matter how well written, aren't right for their market. So, 4 publications get together, all publish very different kinds of stories, hire one group of readers who basically disseminate stories to the right markets, and all 4 publications cut down on reading times and costs, while not losing much since they aren't going for the same types of stories anyhow.

    The archaic, usually insufficient response is basically to maintain the status quo, business as usual, often met with the idealistic reasoning 'well, just don't submit to those markets.' The fact is, while you selectively submit to limited markets, MOST other writers are carpet bombing ALL markets. The best way to compete is to submit to as many markets as possible. The sooner publications realize this is the reality, and adapt, the sooner we'll see reading/response times cut, costs cut, and more importantly more opportunity to find the best stories.
     
  13. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Except most of the pros are actually not usually following guidelines against simultaneous submissions, or at least didn't in their becoming professionals.

    I've asked multiple, successful and widely published authors of short fiction, and every single one of them says a writer has to be flat out insane or naive to not simultaneously submit whether it's a guideline or not.

    Sure, it's not morally right, and there are very, very, very rare instances where the 'you'll never work in this town again' threat matters (it's usually just an idle threat used to discourage people you didn't want subbing to your publication anyway from continuing).

    As always, reality is very different from the ideal people will proclaim is expected.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Assuming that's the case, then it comes down to how much of your own internal respect you have for your integrity and honesty. I prefer not to deal professionally with people who don't care about that stuff, whether it is in the context of writing or anything else.

    These arguments in favor of pretending to follow the guidelines so the publisher will look at your work, while not actually following them, are just rationalizations for being dishonest.
     
  15. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Who said anything about pretending? If you are going to break the guidelines, at least have the balls to say so. If the publisher is lenient, they may let it pass. If they enforce their rules with an iron fist, then they'll turn it away. Again, the worst they will really do is reject you. In the whole scheme of things, you are a gnat on the wall in comparison to their workload, and I really doubt they'll wage a personal vendetta against you and your reputation for not following their guidelines. It's really not worth their time to do so. They may add you to some list where they won't publish you, but in the end, did you really expect to get published there by breaking the guidelines? No, probably not, but in the small chance that they might take a look at it anyway, it could be worth it. In the end, it's probably no more than a waste of yours and the publishers' time, but all things considering, it's a competitive world out there.
     
  16. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Feel free to make a personal, moralistic choice to do this. I can assure you, though, that every professional I've personally spoken to isn't going to judge you as a bad person for submitting to places that don't allow simultaneous submissions. In fact, they're going to think you're foolish if you don't.

    That doesn't make it moralistically right, of course. But for some, the issue doesn't seem to be what is the best practice for furthering one's career or even what is the expected practice in the industry, but whether one's own personal morals are being upheld by others.

    Thanks, I'll go ahead and continue living with myself for submitting simultaneous submissions to journals that don't allow them... you know, like most other writers manage to do, like the editors I've talked to manage to do, like pretty much all professionals in the industry manage to do.

    I've met very few people who think the issue is with writers who aren't moralistic, but with the [now, thankfully fewer and fewer] publications that are so egotistical as to think the best course of action is to ignore the fact many of their own submissions are simultaneous subs despite their guidelines preventing them.

    It's not a moral issue that's the problem. It's basically ignorance and an unwillingness to change and adapt by conservative institutions that are usually more interested in maintaining their air of superiority than providing good outlets for writers.

    Especially when there are plenty of other ways for a journal to handle the issue, rather than stubbornly insisting things must go on business as usual.

    Some journals simply no longer take unsolicited manuscripts. For journals that have the ideology of not accepting simultaneous submissions, this saves everyone time and money. You can't carpet bomb them with your submissions if you're a writer, as it isn't solicited. And then the publication is only reading manuscripts they specifically want to read, saving them time/money. Double-and is that they're now not being hypocrites, basically, pretending as many publications do as being all about the up and coming writer, while not allowing simultaneous submissions, which is a practice that hurts the up and coming writer. It's especially great because then a writer doesn't have to stoop to the evils of dishonesty, and the publication doesn't have to be seen as delusional for actually thinking their guideline of no simultaneous submissions is really being followed by anyone.

    Another tactic that I've seen increasingly with online submissions is to simply state you don't accept simultaneous submissions and then putting your money where you mouth is and as part of the submission process the writer signs a limited contract for publication of that piece. This is great, because it gives the publication the actual exclusivity that not allowing simultaneous submissions is intended to do, but doesn't since not allowing them is really more of a request, and there's not a thing they can do if at the last minute you pull your piece in favor of a different publication. Sure, they can all swear to blacklist you (lol) or publish your piece anyway or any number of things that actually make the publication look petty and bad.

    The nice thing about this last option, as I said, they can put their money where their mouth is, have an exclusivity contract as part of the submission process, meaning IF the piece gets picked up, they already have rights to publish it, and if they don't want it, the rights all revert back to you. A writers often don't mind this because in the terms of the contract are actual dates, and after that set date, you have control again. Meaning, they have 90 days, for example, to crap or get off the pot, at which point they have no right to publish the piece.

    Why this is preferred is also the fact that many publications use their no simultaneous subs rule as a way to basically bully authors. Say you submit a piece to 3 different places, one of which doesn't allow sim subs, but that publication wants to run your story, as well as another. The publication that does allow sim subs is disappointed, but understands what they're getting into, so will actually attempt to vie for your business (usually not offering more money, but maybe you're first in line for another sub, or offering more editing time, or better placement). Meanwhile, the publication that doesn't offer simultaneous subs, despite every publication ever saying their for writers, suddenly doesn't seem so nice and instead of working with a writer, for a writer, excited about trying to keep a story, the publication goes with a hardline tactic, citing the fact they didn't allow simultaneous subs and making thinly veiled threats that if you don't proceed with publication "you'll never work in this town again."

    Allowing simultaneous subs fosters competition... which of course many of the publications don't want as they instead string writers out for a really long time knowing knowing they'd traditionally have them by the balls. Ah, but the publishing world is actually quite big these days, with many outlets who are progressive thinkers, of writers, by writers, for writers, and don't think the archaic, conservative institutions who stand by not allowing simultaneous subs have much credit these days anyhow.

    Simultaneous submissions isn't in any way there to support the writers, or, in my opinion, to foster competition. Journals don't want that. They want to sit on your story for as long as they want knowing they can threaten [a young, naive writer, at least] if you don't let them sit on your story. This happens to the point I've heard of some instances where journals may intentionally not get back to a writer, knowing they won't publish their story in the near future, but basically just wanting to hold onto the story for future use, if it comes up.

    So, while we're talking about morals and doing what's right, we should consider both sides of it. Of course, many writers are so desperate for any validation and success they'll bend every which way trying to get a foot in the door. When a writer doesn't play fair, it's immoral and they're bad people. Ah, but when a publication doesn't play fair or is outright bullying writers, hey, no problem, it's just business.

    Publications don't want to lose the advantage they have over writers with not allowing simultaneous subs (though, in many ways, that advantage is long gone these days), and writers don't want to lose the advantage of submitting simultaneous submissions. The best response to the situation, of course, is somewhere in the middle, not in black and white moralistic arguments.
     
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    OK. Then I agree with you. I have don't see a problem saying to the editor that you have a simultaneous submission, even knowing that they don't accept them. Some people may see that as unprofessional because you disregard the guidelines, but I do not. Instead of agreeing to all of the publisher's terms, you've offered your own terms and the publisher can decide to accept them or not at that point.

    I'm referring above to cases where you make a simultaneous submission and do not say so. To me, that is dishonest.

    The crux of all business arrangements (which is what the association between you and a publisher is) is the reliability of the parties to do what they say they are going to do. Your business relationship depends on it. So who wants to do business with anyone who can't be relied on to hold up their end of an agreement?
     
  18. Nicholas C.
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    Good points by all.. glad I was able to get some people to weigh in on this.

    I am a new author -- never submitted anything to anyone before yesterday. I understand the imperative to be professional and uphold the guidelines. But for someone like myself, who has no publishing credits, sitting on these stories and waiting months between submissions is ridiculous if my intent is to "make a name for myself" as a writer (especially considering that the odds are worse of getting published in my case).
     
  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Depends on what the name is that you want to make. If you don't want the name to be the dishonest, unreliable writer who doesn't honor his own word, you can do that. Otherwise, you need to at least tell the editors that you are submitting to multiple markets when you send them the work.
     
  20. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Ummm, no. The crux of all business, especially as a writer, is to NOT do a damn thing based on anyone's word or promises. It's just not worth it. If a contract is signed when you submit something, then you'd have a point.

    And keep in mind they're GUIDELINES! Would you think it dishonest and immoral if a writer decides to submit a manuscript in Courier instead of Times? No. Would you think it dishonest or immoral if a writer decided they weren't going to go through and change every new sentence to two spaces instead of one, just because it was a submission guideline? I would hope not. Sure, these things may be stupid or lazy, but all this talk of dishonesty and morals is ridiculous.

    The only (ONLY) reason it's even a discussion is because publishers lose an advantage over writers by letting them simultaneously submit, so spread all sorts of nonsense about how terrible it is and how they'll be black listed, etc. Nobody says these things about any guidelines BUT simultaneous submissions, because everything else is reasonably considered just a guideline that may be stupid not to follow, but no big deal. Seriously, the only difference is that publishers want writers to be scared of simultaneously submitting so they can keep their advantage.

    Basically, it's marketing and lobbying 101. And the only reason so many writers buy into it is a) They're scared b) They're ignorant or c) They like thinking they're an expert and KNOW something about the industry or d) They're in the industry and thus it's in their best interest to perpetuate the scare tactics.

    But, as I've said, thankfully things are changing and there's a lot more transparency, and the old model of writers being desperate and powerless is changing.

    At one point a similar war was being waged by publishers when it came to agents. Oh no, agents will steal your money, steal your manuscript, make you look amateurish! Submit directly to the publisher to get the best, most fair deal. What, you have an agent? How unprofessional!

    At one point a similar war was being waged by publishers against women writers. People will think you're a harlot. You can't be paid or your husband will divorce you. It's unprofessional and immoral for a woman to be a writer, so you'd better just be happy we're publishing your book at all, much less paying you or giving you any renown for your work!

    The dynamic isn't new. Writers are a vulnerable lot, willing to do just about anything to catch a break. That includes not only breaking guidelines (not one's word, not a contract, not a handshake, just guidelines!), but also succumbing to the fear tactics that allow publishers to walk all over them.

    The good news is there are tons of outlets, and increasingly so, that seek to empower writers, not exploit them. Coincidentally, the vast majority of these places accept simultaneous submissions. Why? Because it's an archaic practice that does more to exploit and harm writers than help, and the only reason to not accept simultaneous submissions is to try to maintain an advantage over the writer. I don't know about any of you, but all this talk of being fair and moral and honest business usually doesn't involve one party doing everything they can to keep the other in a vulnerable, easily exploitable position.
     
  21. art
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    Quite right, Minstrel. I assume these folks have access to dictionaries and understand the definition of 'simultaneous'...

    There's surely a middle way here, between an approach that might be considered slavish but perhaps fastidiously moral, and one that might be thought desperate but perhaps politic?

    Both extremes might suggest a lack of faith in one's work.
     
  22. art
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    double post
     
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the pros i've known [list includes bob ludlum, noel behn, robin moore] were neither insane nor naive and yet had integrity enough to not do so and not recommend that it be done... yes, times have changed since they were starting out, but i don't think morality has, though fewer may feel bound by it nowadays...
     
  24. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes.

    I don't think it is unfair to say that in the end it comes down to what kind of person you want to be. There are still more around who care about that than one might think.
     
  25. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Instead of continuing to just cast personal judgement on others for what you perceive as immoral acts, why don't I see anyone on that side of the fence actually engaging in any of the content presented by others?

    All I see is people continuing to say BUT IT'S WRONG AND IMMORAL!!!!

    The other side, you'll notice, isn't argue that it's right or that writers should be immoral as long as they're finding personal gain. Or even excusing it, saying it is against the guidelines and more importantly that it's a shame writers have to be put in such a position. Trying to present the issue in terms of the facts and reality of the writing landscape today, why ignoring that GUIDELINE is sometimes perceived as necessary and acceptable, even by those in the industry (from this century) and why many publications are in fact changing and moving on and these days accepting simultaneous submissions is almost the norm, not the other way around.

    But it's just so wrong!!!

    /facepalm

    I get it, there's something you don't personally agree with... welcome to writing. Wait, no, welcome to every industry ever! The easy thing is to stand back and cast judgement, but that doesn't change the fact that there are potentially facts and situations that are encouraging, allowing or even forcing writers into taking such positions. And honestly, your judgements help no one but yourselves, when meanwhile, there are actual facts and issues that could be discussed that are a lot more complex than a black and white judgement casting others as immoral because they don't follow the GUIDELINES while submitting a story.

    Wait, no, again, not that they don't follow any guidelines... just this one, that conveniently has become a moral issue and has had writers in-fighting for decades... convenient as it's the only GUIDELINE that gives a publication significant control and power over a writer. The publishers don't care that much if you don't format properly, as it's just a guideline, and sure, they'll think you're an idiot and it may hurt your chances, but you aren't going to see them or anyone else saying you're immoral for using the wrong font...

    Yet, with just this ONE issue that had given publishers even more power over writers than in already inherent in the business, it's a moral issue. Convenient, isn't it? Especially that this becomes an increasingly debated issue, and with increasingly vehemence, as publishers see the balance of power shifting out of their hands and into the hands of writers?

    I won't give an entire dissertation of how morality is socially constructed, but suffice it to say I don't buy that there's anything inherently immoral or sin-worthy about not following a submission guideline (that's, very literally, just what 'they' want you to think). Sure, a publication or publisher has every right to reject you because you didn't follow their guidelines... but to make it a moral issue is a bit disappointing.

    Especially disappointing because I don't see anyone saying who cares, do whatever necessary, kill if you need. I see people saying the reality of the situation is that it's necessary, which doesn't make it right, of course, but perhaps means the issue should be look at closer than simply casting judgements on whether not following one, and only one, submission guideline is immoral.

    You either familiarize yourself with the reality of today, or get left behind as you cling to the past. And no, before another moral argument, I'm not saying the reality of today is that everyone should be immoral cheats, but that when ignoring no simultaneous submission guidelines became routine, the smart publications/publishers/editors took notice, looked at the situation and facts objectively and adapted instead of just standing around casting judgement on writers as bad people.

    Though, as usual, I have a feeling my posts aren't even being read... in favor of just posting quick agreements to the others with stones in their hands.
     

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