Subbing for the first time can be a scary process and I wonder how many publishing houses/agents have missed the opportunity to sign the next rising star (not me, not yet, maybe never) because they are unaware the tone of their Submission Guidelines is off?
I’ve certainly passed by certain houses and taken against certain agents where the tone has been intimidating, blatantly hostile even. Frankly, if submissions aren’t welcome, don’t ask for them. Close your doors. Lower your shutters. Flick ‘Open’ to ‘Closed’ - Sorry to have disturbed you.
Stipulating format, specifying genres of interest and codifying dos and don’ts, admittedly makes for dry copy. But the funny thing about words is link enough of them together and personality will out.
Submission Guidelines are an important part of Corporate Image. They spark a first impression and often, an immediate judgement. Get the tone wrong and the next big opportunity might just walk straight on passed you and worse, they are likely to share their first impression, however mistaken, with others they meet.
Why do I care? Because words are supposed to matter in this industry, a sensitivity to tone is supposed to have currency. I know that SGs are probably so far down a frantically busy agent’s/publisher’s/editor’s priority list as to have fallen off the bottom, but making a good impression is a two way process. Writer to publisher - Publisher to writer.
So don't just proof read your words, feel them.
(That sound you hear is me falling a few rungs further down the ladder on the climb to secure a contract)