1. You follow the directions to the letter or you’re rejected. They won’t even read it if you don’t follow the guidelines exactly.
2. No is no forever. There are no redos , try again, or second chances. Once you’re rejected, you’re rejected – and they’ll let you know if you try to sneak in another way that they’ve already rejected it and won’t be looking at it again.
3. You don’t pester them with questions (especially if they’re addressed in the guidelines), or you’re pegged a pest and you’re out of there.
4. If you do get accepted, you do what they say, when they say, or you’re contract is null and void.
5. If you “don’t mess with computers” then don’t expect a reply. This is the 21st century. If you’re technologically illiterate, they won’t make time for you. It’s straight to the recycle bin and on to the next.
I’ve heard a lot of people squawk about how anal they are, but the truth of the matter is this: people are begging for their attention, all day, every day. Holding to these stringent criteria screens what they take to only the best, and to working with people that are willing to do what it takes to create and publish the best novel possible. They don’t have time for drama and half hearted attempts, and they won’t tolerate it.
Growing up, I thought everybody operated like this. You certainly didn’t do anything half handed in college, or you don’t pass the class and you had no shot at graduating. They proudly tell you in freshman year that only 1 in 3 will make it to graduation, and this is about right. At the University of South Carolina, you have to get at least a “C” in the class or you don’t get credit and have to retake it. You can argue that a “D” is passing all day, and they’ll tell you it’s below average and you have to perform at a level that’s at least get credit, so retake the course or be on your way. Imagine my surprise when I entered the workforce and discovered how many people are completely fine with just getting by and settling for mediocrity. It still confounds me, even after sixteen and a half years of experience in the workforce.
I know people cry “you have to grant people some grace!” but there’s a place where it’s detrimental to the overall good. I know others argue that “you could be shutting out perfectly good people by being so anal,” but is someone too headstrong to follow the rules likely to be successful in the long run? Anything worth having takes hard work and dedication. Sure, setting stringent criteria creates an attrition rate. It culls out the ones that aren’t in it to win it – so is it really a loss? Even Proverbs says that laziness is destructive. A little sleep, a little rest, a little folding of the hands, and your doom is upon you. It’s true that you’re only as strong as your weakest link, and I see no problem with making sure that every chain on that link is solid, at least. Allow too much mediocrity in the system, and it can destroy everything. That’s not being pessimistic, it’s reality. Have you ever watched any of those TV shows where people go in to remake hotels, or bars, or other establishments? The first thing they look at is the quality of the employees and in every episode I’ve seen, that’s been what makes it or breaks it. If everybody pulls together and does their best, they remake themselves into success. If they don’t, they fail. It’s that simple.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned between my career and being an independent author, it’s that people will only rise to the highest standard expected of them. Internal motivation is a serious problem in our society, and we don’t help it by settling for mediocrity or slackness. Demand excellence, and that’s what you get. It’s certainly true in the publishing industry. You may think they’re tyrants for being so strict, but I can tell you from working with both of my epublishers that they’re some of the best people to work with. They’re hard working, dedicated, loyal, and will do whatever it takes to help you create and publish the best novel possible. People who self publish are encouraged to submit themselves to similar standards by hiring out proofreading and cover art design, and readers can tell who actually does it. I’ve seen the importance of high standards in just my first few weeks of being an editor at ReadWave. Seeing it from the other side is an eye opener. I better understand why it has to be this way in order to make sure readers are getting the best. It inspires me to do my best not only at my writing and my job, but at everything that’s set before me. I’m dedicated to living the best life possible, and I refuse to sabotage myself.
We need to make excellence a standard everywhere. Believe me, a little “try harder” never killed anybody. If anything, it brought them to life and helped them to succeed. One thing I’ve seen over and over, both in writing and in my career, is that if it means that much to people then they will rise to it. The excuses crumble when you replace “can’t” with “won’t” and stop accepting it.
That’s all today. Have a Happy Friday tomorrow and a great weekend.