Publisher Notes: Please Don’t Send Me That

Publisher Notes: Please Don’t Send Me That
December 14, 2016 3 Comments For Authors, Writing Advice A.M. Rycroft

You know me as an author and a blogger, but I’m also a publisher. I’m part owner of Mighty Quill Books. We’re a small publisher focusing on fantasy, horror, and other dark fiction, based out of Pittsburgh, PA. Being a small publisher means keeping a closer connection to our authors, which I really like. But that doesn’t mean that what we look for in author submissions is any different from a larger publisher.

Ever wondered what goes through the mind of a publisher sifting through submissions? Now’s your chance to find out.

Submissions guidelines are not optional.


Jessicajin / Pixabay

It’s inevitable that some authors think they can sneak in unformatted manuscripts and stories that violate our content guidelines. Trust me, no matter how clever you think you are, we’re not buying it. Sending your story in a file format other than what we accept is an immediate rejection.

We rejected 20% of the stories submitted for our last anthology due to a lack of manuscript formatting or failure to adhere to length guidelines. It’s fairly easy to follow manuscript formatting guidelines, so there’s really no excuse for not following them.

We’re also pretty clear about what we want and don’t want in our guidelines. We rejected another 20% for not adhering to guidelines regarding accepted genres and acceptable content. So, please don’t send us something that grossly falls outside our content guidelines. “No explicit sex scenes” means no explicit sex scenes of any kind. Most certainly, not scattered throughout your story.

What was that even supposed to be?

These aren’t the words you want going through the mind of whoever is reviewing your submitted work. Run a basic spellcheck on your work, then ask someone to proof it for you. That someone should have as good a grasp or a better grasp of the rules of grammar than you.

If we receive your manuscript and it’s riddled with typos and incorrect words, we’ll probably toss it. Your story might be the next Dark Tower or A Game of Thrones, but it won’t see publication through us if it’s riddled with errors. It simply takes up too much of our editors’ time to correct rampant spelling and grammar mistakes for us to want to invest in your work. So make it easy on yourself by asking someone to proof your work before you send it to us.

Get out the weed whacker.

Please check your heavy use of adverbs, adjectives, simile, and metaphor at the door. Opening up a thesaurus and dumping it into your story isn’t the way to our hearts, nor is adding a simile every other paragraph. Rather than impressing us, you’re actually telling us your writing hasn’t matured yet. Take a hard look at your story and whether you’re using these things to enhance your story or prop it up.

Hold the phone, we have a winner.

So, what makes us take notice of your work? Those stories that make the cut are the ones that are accessible for a wide audience, and they draw us in and hold us from beginning to end. A story doesn’t need to be perfect all the way through. Sometimes, we think a part of the story needs a little tweaking, but that’s why we have editors.

What gets submissions moved to our next level up could be your plot, your characters, or just your writing style. I’ve read and loved a couple stories where the main character was pretty loathsome. The stories moved on to the next level, because the author’s style and delivery hooked me right away and kept me reading.

If you can give us a nice clean story, one that makes us want to read all the way through, you’re halfway to an acceptance letter. We’re not here to make your life difficult, we promise. We really want to like every story that comes across our desks. Help us do that. Even if we can’t fit your story into the current anthology, we just might ask to hold onto it for the next one.

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A.M. Rycroft A.M. Rycroft is a dark fantasy and horror writer, and blogger. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA, and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been writing since a young age, and though she attended art school for a time, she found her way back to writing again after art school. Her first dark fantasy/horror novel Into the Darkness was written while she attended the University of Pittsburgh. Her writing has been compared to the works of David Eddings and Stephen King. When she is not writing, Rycroft is a writing coach and a periodic cartoonist. She enjoys keeping fit with weight training and walks through her local parks. During the summer, A.M. is frequently seen riding the roller coasters at the Kennywood amusement park.
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  1. 3 Comments

    Stephanie Ayers

    This is such a needed post. I don’t know why people think they are special vs everyone else who does it the right way.

    1. 3 Comments

      A.M. Rycroft

      Some authors think, if they send us something that doesn’t match our content guidelines, we may like their piece so much that we accept it anyhow (we never do). In the case of manuscript formatting, some magazines and journals are lax about their formatting guidelines, and I think this causes some confusion. Publishers and magazine/journal editors, however, are two different animals. Publishers tend to be very strict about their content guidelines, so I recommend that you read and follow all guidelines as listed when sending a query or a manuscript to an editor. If you have a question about whether something is acceptable, reach out via email. Mighty Quill Books has a contact address listed on our site, and we really like it when authors reach out with questions.

      1. 3 Comments

        Stephanie Ayers

        I totally agree with you. The first thing anyone should do is read the guidelines of anywhere they are planning to query and make sure their document meets their criteria before sending it in. It might be a “Pain” but, when it gets accepted, it’s worth it.


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