Submission Guidelines: Not Following Them Could Ruin Your Career

Submission Guidelines: Not Following Them Could Ruin Your Career, by Jo Linsdell

Submission guidelines play a part in the life of every writer. You'll need to read them when you submit your work to publishers, and agents. You'll need to read them when you reach out to be hosted on websites and blogs to promote your books. Unfortunately there's a LOT of people out there that don't bother.

You would not believe the number of emails I get every day where it is painfully clear that the person sending it didn't read the guidelines. If you want to increase your success rate of being hosted on blogs I strongly suggest you don't make the same mistake.

Mistake #1: Address the email correctly

Something I get a lot is emails that start "Dear Sir". A quick click over to the W&A About page and you'll see I'm female, and that my name is Jo Linsdell. It literary takes 2 seconds to find that information. 

Mistake #2: Don't lie about being a regular reader of the blog

A common error is when the person emailing starts off by saying what a huge fan they are of the blog, and that they visit regularly... when they clearly don't. If they did they wouldn't call me "Dear Sir", and would know to read the submission guidelines. If you want to try and earn points for being a regular reader, it's a good idea to comment on recent posts. I remember names that regularly pop up and I'm sure other bloggers do too. This also applies to social media too. People that regularly comment on Facebook posts or tweets on our accounts stick in my head so when I see a submission from them I will also find space for it on the website. 

Mistake #3: Not reading the guidelines

Due to the large amount of emails I receive (a lot of them from people like those we're discussing here), I make sure that the website has very clear submission guidelines. In fact on the Write For Us page I go through the exact material required to go with each type of post. I even offer a list of topic ideas so they can see the type of topics I'm interested in publishing. I include the posting schedule, and the current schedule situation for the coming months to give a clear indication of lead time. And last, but not least, I explain the difference between a guest post and a sponsored post and provide a link to the advertising page for those who don't fit the requirements for a guest post. Simple, straight forward, all information included... and yet I still get a huge number of emails from people who clearly have not read it, but still expect me to host them.

At this point I really should mention something about sponsored posts. If you read the submission guidelines it's clearly explained what the difference is between guest posts and sponsored posts. If you don't meet the requirements for a guest post, yours is a sponsored post. Simple. All sponsored posts have a fixed price. This is clearly mentioned on the advertising page, which is of course linked to on the Write for us page to make it super easy to find. I offer frugal pricing because I'm a writer too and understand what it's like from both sides of the fence. Do NOT try to convince me to give you a free sponsored post, or a discount. The answer will be no every time. If a site clearly states their guidelines and pricing that is what they want. If you can't or don't want to play by their rules go somewhere else and don't waste their time or your own.

Mistake #4: Constant follow up emails.

In the guidelines it clearly states the standard lead time for the site.  If the guidelines state:
Please DO NOT send multiple emails to follow up on your submission. If you followed the guidelines above correctly I will contact you via email to let you know the date of posting and the permalink for the post. If you don't hear back from me within a month of sending me your submission chances are you didn't follow the guidelines and therefore will not be featured on site. 
it is not a good idea to email me several times over the same week asking if I'm going to publish your article. 

Whilst today's post has been focused on submission guidelines for blogs, the same principles apply when submitting work in general. If you can't follow guidelines for being featured on a blog how do you think you'll do trying to get your manuscript published? Agents and publishers post submission guidelines. If you don't follow them your manuscript won't even get read. 

This post is a few of my own personal pet peeves, but I'm not alone. These things will annoy most bloggers. So, next time you want to be featured on a blog, or want to submit content to a publication, agent, or publisher, make sure you read the submission guidelines carefully first. 


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