If a publisher asks you to submit three chapters, a synopsis, a cover letter, and to format it all in purple Wingdings, that’s what you do. The publisher sets the rules. You’re required to show your respect for them, as well as showcase your own professionalism, by doing exactly as they ask. Don’t believe your brilliance will floor them and convince them to overlook the fact you’ve decided to send them ten chapters formatted in Comic Sans.
If a journal accepts your story, then three days later changes their mind and rejects you (and this has happened), grin and bear it. You have every right to be frustrated. You have every right to be angry. You have every right to rant privately to your friends that this journal is full of imbeciles who are grossly incompetent. But in your interaction with the journal, remain polite and respectful.
There’s no need for discourtesy, irrespective of the circumstances. It’s not going to get you anywhere and will just foster resentment. Also, the Australian publishing industry is small. Piss off the wrong person, and you could develop a name for yourself. So learn to handle adversity with dignity and graciousness.
This is something you should apply regardless of the circumstances. Unfortunately, in our experience, it hasn’t always been the case. We’ve had authors who’ve been rude and aggressive, who’ve behaved with a sense of entitlement, and as if we exist only to serve their whims and respond to their tantrums. One author was outright vitriolic, even though all her issues were a result of her lack of communication with her own PA, rather than anything we’d done. How this woman could operate in a professional capacity is mind-boggling.
We have our own etiquette – whether you’re submitting to one of our anthologies, attending one of our workshops, or wanting to self-publish. We establish parameters, which we ask clients to work within, because it gives them the structure to compartmentalise their project, as well as helps put resources in our hands with a methodology that ensures we can serve our clients’ needs and produce the best outcome possible. That all sounds terribly wordy: simply, we ask you to do things our way because we know what we’re doing, and our way makes it easier for everybody in the long run. Other publishers and journals will be the same. Everybody has their own way of doing things.
You’re going to encounter problems, hiccups, and detours. That’s a reality of life, let alone the publishing industry. The people you’re dealing with might have seemingly strange guidelines, or they might make mistakes. Again, that’s something you’re going to encounter in life. But don’t think blowing up is going to change anything. It’s likelier to produce the opposite outcome.
Think about how you deal with adversity.
Think about how you deal with the everyday.
And ask yourself if you need to do anything differently.