. . . that I’m most grateful for, in addition to the writers groups that offer so much substantive help is: electronic submissions. I remember looong ago, at writer’s conferences, you always could tell a raw beginner when they would ask, “What’s an SASE?” Now that acronym is once again becoming mysterious. And thank goodness. During this time of year, when standing in line at the post office is an accepted, but wearying necessity, I remember the old days of trudging to the post office to mail manuscripts. I was constantly juggling multiple sizes of envelopes, getting them weighed for correct postage, taking extreme care that they were postmarked by the rigid deadline. Then worrying that they got delivered and that the usual rejection also didn’t go astray. And yes, there were cases where manuscripts got lost behind some editor’s radiator. If you wanted to submit to a foreign market, you had to buy IRCs in the correct amount for that country’s postage. (IRC=International Reply Coupon.)
It’s true that online submissions have their own headaches. Back in the day, we had pretty much one format for all submissions. Now, each market has it own unique requirements as to spacing, font, paragraphs, contact information, cover letters, bios, and whether to strip the file of identifying information. But, as long as one is careful, these can be met. The other potential drawback is that if your internet connection goes down at the last minute, it can stop your submission in its tracks. But those issues are far outweighed, in my opinion, by the standard practice of getting an immediate acknowledgement that your piece has been received; that you can often check for updates on its progress through the editorial maze; and that, if you get turned down, you can send the manuscript to some other market without re-typing those old, crumpled pages. If an editor likes your piece, but wants a few changes, that, too, can be accomplished without a long back and forth through the mail.
Yeah, there are still a few markets that either require or accept paper submissions. These days it seems rather quaint. Even some of them are now answering via email, instead of return envelope. So, thanks to all the programmers and visionaries who’ve made it all possible. My writing life is better because of you.