On our submission guidelines it says that Tamela and I do not take hard copy submissions and Diana prefers not to get them. When I get a query and send a request for proposal I am careful to point out that I do not take hard copy and instead point out what I’d like to see and how I want to receive it. I’ve talked about it in appointments at conferences or when I am on panels, when I’ve done interviews, it can’t be much of a secret.

But here they come, all the time. Why? Why would anyone send a submission without checking the submission guidelines to see how to submit? Or worse, what if they did and took it upon themselves to do hard copy in spite of that? What am I to make of these envelopes that tend to annoy me when they clog up my small mailbox?

Why would I care? I care because I seldom work where these envelopes pile up so I seldom deal with them and I don’t like to do that. I care because my office is where my laptop happens to be at the time and that is where I am usually working. I do have a study, but it seems I seldom get to work there and that’s where that unsolicited manuscript would be laying. I care because more and more the business of publishing is being carried out online and I want to receive submissions in such a way that shows me how well an author can handle themselves in that medium. I’ve had some say they don’t know how to use a computer and don’t do email. It would be virtually impossible for me in today’s electronic world to do business with them so that alone is grounds to pass on their manuscript.

I care because I work with a team of editorial assistants and we pass submissions back and forth to each other which needs to be done electronically. And finally I care because I’m not all that fond of spending postage and mailing costs when I don’t have to.

There are publishing houses that want a hard copy submission. For them I want the manuscript on my computer so I can look over it before I send it, ensure that the formatting is correct, maybe catch typos or story problems that I can ask the author to deal with before I tie my reputation to theirs by sending it on. That is too inconvenient with a hard copy.

Mostly it’s because it is how I asked people to do it. Whether it was because they failed to show me the respect of finding out what I wanted or disregarded the instructions and did it another way, it is a red flag for me or for other agents and editors. And maybe with another agent or editor it is the opposite, an email submission when they said not to do it that way. It isn’t the way it was submitted, it’s the fact that the guidelines are not followed. Or maybe the content requested was not provided. All the same problem.

The bottom line is that even if I chose to open one up and look at it instead of just returning it unopened, it would have two strikes against it going in. Isn’t it just easier to follow the submission guidelines?