Updated: 3 days ago
A Writer's Plea
Every time I've pitched a story, I've had to twist myself and my article into a pretzel to conform to the new guidelines. To be clear, I'm talking about paid articles outside of Medium or Vocal+.
Some want 12 point, 10 point, 11 point, Arial, Times New Roman, double space, single space, 1.5 spacing, with or without headers or footers, page numbers, no page numbers, your name on each page, no name on each page, citations only in the article, citations below and within the article, citations only below the article, some want MARGINS of a certain size FFS.
It reminds me of studying, when you had to use Harvard, Chicago, MLA or whatever tickled their fancy and there was no continuity from one paper, or lecturer to another even within the same college. An utter waste of irreplaceable time with zero advantage to the writer (or the student).
Like nearly all bureaucracy, fannying around with formatting is a horrible waste of time and puts me in mind of the ridiculous electronic device situation where every company insists upon its own charger design. Except, we all know the phone companies do this for profit and to try to avoid being even accidentally or momentarily cooperative with their competitors. Why editors do it is anybody's guess. But regardless: Please. Just. Stop.
I admit to being somewhat apathetic when it comes to marketing my work, that's not my forte. I haven't pitched in months. Yet almost as soon as I sent out a pitch this week I received two interested replies from editors. I berate myself for not pitching more regularly, but honestly the reason I don't is the sheer hassle. The time-wasting footering about is why I often just self-publish here at the Garrulous Glaswegian. Having to continually re-vamp your article is the equivalent of having to apply for a job, over and over and over again, with a new resume each time.
But at least once you have the job you generally escape that burden for a couple of years. Freelance writers are never free of this tedious task.
Uniformity is the saviour of time, at least when it comes to formatting work.
Writers write. We have creative brains. We are constantly inundated with new bursts of inspiration for stories, articles, books, creations. The pointless drudgery of reformatting that which is already completed kills my creative fire, and the futile monotony of it encourages me not to pitch. I still write, more than ever, but I just cannae be arsed with the "change your entire formatting again" dance. Every. Single. Time.
I'm not talking about editing. I'm absolutely fine with removing 200 words or taking on board their comments to improve my work. I am talking only about the utterly inconsequential issue of formatting. Not because the formatting is poor, but "just because".
Time is fleeting. I want to spend the next couple of decades writing and writing and writing some more. Not pissing around with font sizes.
Couldn't publications en masse just come up with a standard? Something simple? Times New Roman, 12 point, double spacing, no page numbers, no name or identifying details on the work (to avoid bias), word doc or PDF, images must be credited.
There you go, sorted. Surely you can all work with that? How hard can it possibly be to feed a new article into your editorial machine with those simple guidelines and come out with something serviceable at the other side?
And don't editors edit? If there's something you particularly favour, say paragraphs of a certain word count, can't you just hit the space bar?
Well, that's my plea to editors of independent publications. I appreciate your time, I appreciate your input tremendously. And please, I am begging you, get together and just decide on a few simple rules so we writers can submit in a universal standard.
And while we're at it, how about Universities go with one citation referencing style? I'll choose for you, from now on you should all use APA. You're welcome.
Alison Tennent, Queensland, Australia, July 2021
Copyright Alison Tennent 2021, all rights reserved. Scottish by birth, upbringing and bloodline, Australian by citizenship. If you’re reading this anywhere but The Garrulous Glaswegian, Vocal+ or Medium, this work may have been plagiarized.