Monday, April 27, 2020

Guidelines Don't Limit Your Freedom!

by Bacopa Literary Review Senior Editor Mary Bast

Year after year, we're surprised by how many submissions ignore our guidelines. If you want to be published, why would you do that?

Wouldn't you would want to be seen as thoughtful of the editors' time demands when considering the merits of a submission and its fit with a particular issue? If you haven't followed the guidelines, might we fairly assume you haven't read past issues or have any idea of the kind of work we publish?

We are not trying to limit your freedom. We do not want to make your life more difficult. We have these guidelines because we want to give each submission the best chance of an unbiased and positive reaction.

If we've asked for Arial font, size 12, why would you ignore that request? Aren't you at least curious about that choice, when you're so familiar with Times New Roman? This matters a great deal because we read submissions onscreen, and Arial size 12 is the best font and size for comfortable online reading (we receive more than a thousand submissions in the two-month submission period). The familiar serif font of Times New Roman ("little feet and embellishments on the tip and base of each letter") is fine for print, but more difficult to read online. Arial's "sans-serif" font (no embellishments), size 12 or larger, doesn't use as many pixels and is easier on the eyes, especially for long hours of onscreen reading.

If you've identified yourself on the document after we've asked that you not do that, might we not assume you think your name should carry weight, because of your reputation or because we know you? We've set Submittable forms so we can't see the cover letter with author's name and experience until we either Accept or Decline. We do this to approach each piece afresh as best as we can, to let the work speak to us without knowing how many publications or literary awards (or lack thereof) the author can list, or how often we've had coffee together or shared similar views on Facebook. Of course there's always bias, some of it unconscious, and we've written about our own in this post.

I'll let you in on a secret: I hate Times New Roman font. Even on a good day, when I'm feeling patient and haven't yet read ten submissions of close to 2500 words each, I still have to suppress my Times New Roman bias when I hit Ctrl+A ("select all") and change the font to Arial so I can read it with my already fatigued eyes.

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