AFSG (Always Follow the Submission Guidelines)

Recently, I committed the nigh-unforgivable writerly sin of failing to follow the submission guidelines. I will pause a moment to soak in your righteous and fully justified finger-wagging.


Okay, my particular sin was submitting a story that did not meet the word count requirements. This particular market wanted stories with a minimum length of 2,000 words, and I sent in a story that was a tad below that. They were gracious enough to let me resubmit the story after I revised it to fit their guidelines, but the shame of making such a mistake will haunt me. Like, seriously. I pride myself on following the guidelines, and I felt like such an asshole for missing one so glaringly obvious.

So, let’s call this post a PSA, a reminder to always, always, always double check the submission guidelines, even for the no-brainer stuff like story length. It can be easy to focus only on the maximum length for a story because, generally, the minimum doesn’t come into play. I did a quick bit of research on Duotrope and found that of the twenty-four pro and semi-pro horror markets, more than half had word count ranges for short stories between 1,000 and 7,500 words. Since most of us don’t write short stories around the 1,000-word mark (that’s generally considered flash fiction), that word count minimum is rarely an issue.


There are plenty of markets that set their word count minimum at 2,000, 2,500, even as high as 4,000. That last number is likely to jump out at you, but the other two can fade into the background if you’re not paying attention. So pay attention! Read and reread those guidelines before you hit the send button. Write the acronym AFSG (always follow the submission guidelines) on a post-it note and put it on your computer (I clearly need to).

Okay, make me feel better about my little blunder. Tell me about a time you missed something in the submission guidelines (please).

3 Comments on “AFSG (Always Follow the Submission Guidelines)

  1. Pingback: AFSG (Always Follow the Submission Guidelines) — REJECTOMANCY – I Suck at Writing

  2. I once submitted to the wrong email address. This place had two, “submit@” and “submissions@”. The “submit” was where the file was supposed to go, and “submissions” was their contact for follow up. I felt like an idiot when they told me I’d submitted to the wrong address, because obviously you want to make a good first impression. Still, I do question the use of such confusing/similar email addresses.

    • That’s not too bad, especially with how confusing they made it. I mean why not have submit@ and contact@? I’m certain you weren’t the first person to have done that.

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