Today, I am suppressing a strong urge to get a rifle and climb up on a tall building. It's format and layout time for the new issue of Steampunk Trails. Some stories come in great shape. Some of them. But, alas, an ever increasing parade are something else entirely. It astonishes me why so many writers think their stories need to look cute. They embed odd features into the text. They use strange fonts. They use headers instead of letting the word processor numbering system work. And they always seem to want to add an extra line between paragraphs. And those are the good submissions. Oh, and let's not forget how half of all submissions come in with courier type in spite of warnings not to use it. Oh, how most editors hate this font.
Then there are scores of submissions that have no discernible paragraph. They're just continuous sentences strewn together in some random incomprehensible fashion. And none of them seem to have any resemblance to generally accepted manuscript formats that are published in any of a number of writing books.
Gee, I wonder why I can't get published?
This is not unlike Woody Allen's quote that 90 percent of success is simply showing up. Simply sending in a clean, simple manuscript greatly improves your chances. In the 20 or so years I've been editing various projects, this situation has gotten much worse.
I'm not really sure. I blame, to some degree, certain writers groups that urge on incompetent writer wannabees who are no ways near ready to take off the training wheels. But there's something else going on. When I went insane and decided I should take up writing, I studied Writer's Market and everything else the library had to find out how to submit, how a manuscript should look and everything else I could learn. The savages cranking out submissions today do not, I fear, even know what a library is--let alone a book. And they don't seem too interested in learning. When you tell someone they've got serious formatting issues and, a week later, you get another sloppy mess from the same writer, you start thinking it's time to find a witch doctor and get a curse put on somebody. Truth is, good witch doctors cost money. Ah, fantasies of tall buildings take shape this time of year.