Hard copy, please

There are some questions that writers ask regularly, and one of them is, “May I email my story to you?” The answer is no, except in exceptional circumstances, even though I know it’s very un-green. But if I explain our reading system, it might excuse us.

First off, all stories received are logged in to a database by our admin team and given a tracking number before being distributed to the fiction team.

Now, you already know that we’re a merry band of four but let’s use Alan as an example. Like all of us, Alan has his own group of writers who submit stories only to him. Plus he takes his share of the unsolicited manuscripts that flood in every day. Occasionally he’ll want a second opinion on a piece, so he’ll pass the envelope containing it over to one of the others with his comments attached, who’ll add their own comments and pass it back. If it’s looking promising, that envelope will then graduate to my drawer.

I’ll read it, add yet more comments, and then finally pass it to Angela (who holds the purse strings!) with my plea to buy it, please.

So a story envelope gets passed around and written on, and we find it much easier and more secure to do so with this physical story than digital files and attachments.

The final factor is, to be honest, cost. If we let writers email their stories, we’d still want to print them out to suit our reading process, and given the volume of material we’re dealing with, the paper costs would be through the roof.

So, we’ll continue to insist on hard copy submissions for the foreseeable.

(We do now ask for the Word document to be emailed to us once a story is being bought, which may be causing some confusion, but that’s to suit our production process.)