Tuesday, 18 May 2010

bending the rules for brilliance

I was surprised by some of what I found out last year when I surveyed various journal editors and competition administrators (for this article). Including how lenient some editors actually are (though I'm not going to tell you which ones).

But the thing that surprised me the most was how many competition administrators or editors actually read a submission/entry that does not meet the guidelines before deciding whether to disqualify it. Except in the case where a piece might exceed the word limit, surely this decision should be made on the guidelines themselves rather than on the quality of the work?

I completely understand those who didn't feel they receive enough submissions to shortlist according to who followed the rules. But this is a blanket decision, everyone is treated the same. Not so for editors who admit to bending the rules 'if a piece is brilliant', and while it was certainly not the case for the majority of those I surveyed, there were enough similar responses to shock.

So I put it to you, as I seem to every year when page seventeen's submissions are open, what do you think? Do you expect editors/administrators to follow their own guidelines?

And, have you or anyone you know ever had a piece accepted when you know you failed to meet guidelines?


markwilliamjackson.com said...

Some guidelines even state 'don't think we'll fall over ourselves with your brilliance', so yes, to be fair to all submissions editors should follow their own guidelines (as long as the guidelines are clear).
My question to editors would be 'how blind is blind selection'?

Tiggy Johnson said...

Hey Mark, that's an excellent question. I wonder if the editors I surveyed would be as honest if I came back with that question?

I can tell you that page seventeen don't have a blind selection policy. We read submissions with names on them. (Although the competition is judged completely blind. Of course.)

ashleycapes said...

I've had editors who were kind enough to write back and tell me I'd made an error of sorts, and let me re-submit, which I thought was extremely nice indeed!

Tiggy Johnson said...

Yeah Ashley, there are certainly quite a few good sorts out there. Almost half of the editors/administrators said they happily do this kind of thing, except with work that comes in too close to the deadline.