Sunday, July 25, 2010

Miss Manners on Submission Etiquette.

Today ran across a journal whose submission guidelines read:

"Submissions will not be acknowledged, no rejection notices will be sent."

It looks like a nice market, actually. But I have to say I find this pretty rude. At least on first glance. The idea is that if you don't hear from them in 30 days, it's a no.

I kind of get why this makes their lives easier, but I have had both manuscripts and replies go into spam filters. As a writer there is something pretty nice about at least knowing that an electronic submission arrived where it was supposed to go.

I'm possibly also reacting like this since there seems to be an increasing trend of markets that fail to behave with even the already sketchy common base of courtesy to writers. One particular annoying journal solicited poems from me, failed to send any acknowledgement or reply, and did not respond to queries. Normally I would have assumed they were just too busy and doing this part-time, but I've just seen they're out on Duotrope and elsewhere asking for new themed submissions. I'm capable of figuring out that this is a 'no' on my own. But still.

Anyhow, I suppose that if you can't be polite, it's better to let people know before they send their work. And markets certainly have the right to set their own boundaries. If I'm left with a lingering sense of 'ick', I'm willing to chalk it up to being my own problem.

But what do you think? Is it reasonable for writers to expect at least the courtesy of a form letter 'no'? Or is this a historical affectation? Artifact of a gentler time?


  1. The further we get from human and simple manners the more discouraging it is to play the game. And it's a game pure and simple. I wonder if the idea isn't to scale down the number of submissions by pissing people off. In that case the overall work becomes mediocre. Too bad.

  2. I think it has something to do with scaling down the submissions indeed. And it certainly sets a tone, doesn't it?