Writers’ Guidelines

All good writers are readers. So why, I sometimes ask myself, don’t those who send us queries read our writers’ guidelines. Many do, but a surprising number of applicants don’t. Or at least their submissions give no such indication. Real life examples of writers who waste their time and ours:

  • Writers who assume we are a content site. BiblioBuffet does not publish “content,” defined by me as anything designed to attract website hits for advertisers. Content does fill up otherwise empty space, but provides very little in the way of good literary nutrition.
  • Closely related to “content” producers are writers who propose articles on topics unrelated to what BiblioBuffet does publish: beauty, cars, finance, travel, etc. Their modus operandi is to create generic e-mails that they send out to websites without having any idea what the site is about. To their credit, they are generally polite when sent form rejections. 
  • Writers who possess less than excellent English skills. Having these doesn’t assure good writing, but it is the starting point for every good writer. If a writer’s first language isn’t English but the writing is powerful and close to what we want we will definitely work with that writer on small grammatical errors. But when a writer tells me she has a Ph.D. in English yet her query letter is no better than a fourth-grade American student would put out, not only are we not going to respond but we are going to put her on our spam list. Along that same line: if a writer claims that Ph.D. and has a website that appears to back that up (excellent English, good writing) but his query is riddled with errors all we can deduce is that he is in the habit of attempting to scam editors into giving him a chance. It won’t work. The writer just made *the* list. And we will never have to worry about either writer clogging our in-boxes again.
  • Writers who don’t understand that there is writing and then there is writing. “Writing worth reading” is writing that is worthy of a time commitment from readers. Today, there is so much competition for readers’ attention that the value of that attention has risen. Our writing must give readers such a good return on their “investment” that they choose to spend it with us every week.
  • Writers who haven’t read BiblioBuffet but are just looking for outlets are not usually writers who impress us. By reading BiblioBuffet writers learn what types and level of writing we seek. And writers should be honest with themselves: do they want to write what we write about, and if so are they able to write to our standards?
  • Writers who don’t read the our guidelines before they query. Anyone who has knows that we do not accept book reviews from guest contributors, that our word count requirement runs between 600 and 6,000 words, that our guest column area carries no deadline, and that we accept darn near any type of writing except poetry as long as it relates to books, reading, or related subjects.  

So there it is. Not quite in a nutshell, but well laid out, I think. Treat us right. Don’t try to overstate your credentials. If you don’t fit our requirements now, write more. Get into a critique group that isn’t hesitant to be brutally honest. Make yourself work harder to become better. Don’t think that publication should be easy just because the Internet allows it to be easy. Push! Trust me, the reward will be worth it regardless of where you dream of seeing your writing published. 

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