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Temporary closure II

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Sunday morning, I changed the SH Guidelines page so that it said we were temporarily closed to subs for the month of December. (The closure went quite well last year; I saw essentially no downside. Apparently nobody thought we were shutting down for good, and submission volume went up in January and stayed up; I imagine the announcement of reopening reached people who hadn't previously heard of us.)

In the 48 hours since I switched guidelines over, we've received only one submission. (Which received the closed-to-subs autoresponse, and which we'll be deleting unread.) Normally in that 48-hour period we'd have received anywhere from 12 to 24 subs. I am pleasantly surprised with how fast the flow shut off; I expected that we'd continue to receive a fair number of submissions for at least a few days. Though last year, when we gave no advance notice at all of the closure, the flow also cut off very quickly.

Those of you who haven't edited may wonder why I'm surprised at this. The answer is that a remarkable number of people obviously don't read our guidelines before submitting. They send us inappropriate material (non-speculative stories, gory horror, etc), they send us attachments in word-processor formats we can't read, they don't follow our formatting and cover-letter guidelines (no name on submission, no word count at top, no title, lack of paragraphing, use of curved quotation marks (which appear on a Macintosh as commas, percent signs, and other weird characters), and so on). So I would have assumed that people who don't read the guidelines would go ahead and send stuff while we're closed.

But apparently most people do read either market listings or guidelines (or the Rumor Mill) before submitting. I applaud people for doing that. I'm very pleased. Hurrah for well-behaved writers!

By the time we reopen in January, I'll have the new guidelines in place. They're not significantly different from the old ones, but they remove some cruft and add some details that submitters often seem confused about. They'll also include a lot of other material: a checklist for formatting stories, an annotated sample submission to show formatting, lists of plots and themes that we see way too often, etc. Unfortunately, the more material we provide, the less likely people are to read it; on the other hand, at least the material will be there for those who are interested.

'kay, enough; time to go to work.

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