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Strange Horizons fiction submission form

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We've finally decided to take the RTF submission system out of beta, and to make it the official preferred submission system.

I had been hoping to fix a bunch of little slightly annoying bugs in the system before we did that, but it became clear to me that I wasn't going to get around to making those fixes anytime soon, and anyway they're invisible to submitters, so I can make the changes later without the writers noticing.

In recent weeks, somewhere between a third and half of the submissions we've received have used the RTF system. And a significant fraction of the ones that don't use the RTF system continue to have the same old formatting problems, especially lack of metadata (like wordcount) at the top, and use of Windows curly quotation marks (which come out as garbage characters on my Mac). The RTF submissions, on the other hand, are almost all auto-formatted exactly as we want them, and the few formatting problems that they sometimes have are things that the system can be modified to fix.

Also, the RTF system is faster and easier for authors to use. As far as I can tell, there's pretty much no downside. (Except for the fact that if an author enters their email address wrong, it'll be impossible for us to contact them.)

So yesterday morning I did a guidelines update; the guidelines now say that the RTF system is the preferred system, with the email system available as an alternate backup system. Fourteen out of the sixteen stories we've received since I made that change have used the RTF system.

I also removed the "beta" label, and moved the submission form to a new location that doesn't have "test" as part of the URL (the old URL redirects to the new one, so it doesn't matter which one you use), and added a few notes to the submission-form page to make some things clearer. (In particular, some authors have been putting quotation marks around the title and/or putting the title and their name in all caps. Authors shouldn't do either of those things. We could automatically have the system remove quotation marks and change titles to mixed-case, but once in a while the quotation marks and/or all-caps are really part of the title.)

I'm tempted to fill in the cover letter text box with a sample cover letter to give authors some idea of how to write a cover letter, but I suspect that would be more confusing than helpful.

Anyway, I hope that any authors who've been holding off on switching because of a perception that "beta" indicated lack of stability will now rest assured that the system is safe to use.

As always, let me know if you run into any problems with it or have any questions or concerns.

4 Comments

Fwiw, I love the rtf system; it's very easy to use and saves a lot of time with reformatting. I only wish there was a way to use it for all my reformatting-into-plain-text needs!


Memo: next time I sub to you, use rtf...Old habits die hard, I've made two subs to SH since the launch of the beta rtf system, and I'm so used to the ASCII conversion I never ever thought of using the rtf. Which is a lot more convenient, I'm sure. It's just that my brain hasn't integrated the notion yet. I suppose having it in the guidelines as the preferred sub form might make it react. Or not :)



And a significant fraction of the ones that don’t use the RTF system continue to have the same old formatting problems, especially lack of metadata (like wordcount) at the top, and use of Windows curly quotation marks (which come out as garbage characters on my Mac).

Although the problem might not be from the submitter's end- in January I sent an MS to you guys and someone told me (I forget who) that I hadn't attached word count+other meta data. I went back and looked at my sent email (since gmail automatically saves a copy of every email sent) and it contained the meta data. I figured I would just use the RTF system henceforth. If there was a problem with that, I figured it wouldn't be considered mea culpa.

Although I don't see how/why it would *lose* the information at the top of my email like wordcount, name and address but *not* lost the text that was the actual subission.


Hmm. It seems I was wrong. I had misread the submission guidelines, and included more information (rather than less). I guess it was a misunderstanding on my behalf.

Sorry 'bout that.


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