The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Suggestions to journal editors

My Warren Wilson alumni list has been buzzing with editors and writers trying to understand electronic submission requirements. I have ideas! Slightly radical if you are a traditional or even new to electronic/digital submissions, but completely obvious to anyone doing collaborative work. Here goes:

Forget pages. Instead set a wordcount for prose and a line count for poetry. Every wordprocessor can provide both easily. Page counts are rigged by font type and size as well as line spacing so that there is no commonality between submissions based on page count.

Forget Word. (True I was one of the folks invited to the Microsoft Haters Conference, but there are other reasons). The latest Word docx format isn’t readable by Word for the Mac or any older PC version of Word. And it will be worse as even Microsoft is abandoning their OOXMPL format that underlies docx. If (and when really) you can ask for ODF do so. There will be a ton of programs that will read it including Word. OpenOffice, NeoOffice, Google Docs and other free software already does this.

Forget submissions all together.
Not as radical as it seems. Instead accept Google Doc links and keep the document in the cloud. You never have to wonder who has what version again. Editors and writers can easily collaborate on changes and suggestions. Everyone has access from every device — phone, laptop, Wii, whatever. Yes you can download and save at any point if you prefer the clumsy old way of doing business. Yes, Aaron. Mindtouch Deki could be used the same way.

PDF. It’s about publishing not submissions and manuscripts. It’s great for what it does. But it is an editor hostile format. Keep it where it belongs as posteditorial.


  1. re: Google docs – heads are exploding on 2 fronts: a. the “no simultaneous” editors and b. those that take the time to draw the little copyright symbol on their submissions. Not saying these explosions are rational…

  2. Paul

    7/11/2008 at 9:54 pm

    I’m prolly the only writer who takes the “no simultaneous” seriously. Unless the report time is sane, I don’t submit to those journals. And you can add a copyright statement if you like.

  3. The copyright statement is only a symptom – a central repository that someone else controls may only amplify their fear that someone will steal their story or poem about the deerhunt/miscarriage/caring-for-elderly-parents.

    And although I’ve been encouraged to ignore the “no simultaneous” stipulation, I’m pretty much in your camp on that.

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