|Slush readers are always looking for awesome.|
This concept may be new and unfamiliar to some, especially if, like pretty much any writer, they have managed to pile up quite an impressive collection of rejection letters. It's essentially true though; slush readers are your friends (this post on slush reading is simply enlightening; go read it).
Unlike friends in real life though, a slush reader (or editor) will be honest to you; this honesty may be displayed in the form of a rejection letter. Also, while a friend may not care about how you format your writing--being a friend, they would probably read any fancy font, and damn the ensuing headache--slush readers and editors do, because, let's face it, you're not the only writer out there.
On the other hand, nobody who reads submissions does so in order to reject people. We read because we want to find awesomeness! We read because we are passionate about what we do and what we want to see published. People who read submissions are very much like treasure hunters, and every new submission that we look at is as exciting as finding Aztec gold or discovering Atlantis or making first contact with the alien mothership.
And now feels like a wonderful time to give you the But. So, when I open this potentially awesome submission, what should be the first thing I see? Yes! Right! I want to see the use of exactly the kind of formatting STATED IN THE GUIDELINES! See, personally I feel that has to do with respect. When I look at a submission, I fully expect to be wow-ed. I do so because I respect each and every writer's effort. In return, following the guidelines shouldn't be to hard; it's really like a friendly handshake and a smile, easy to give but, if denied, a source of potential insult. So, super-big HINT: READ THE GUIDELINES AND FOLLOW THEM TO A T! (Bonus Hint: Following the guidelines for one page and then going back to whatever format pleases you is worse than not following them in the first place.)
Following this first impression (which might lead to rejection without anyone ever reading even one word of what you wrote! Guidelines, people!), I will begin to read. Let me just say GHOSTPIGS.
So, to sum up, while rejection is one huge recurring part of being a writer, why not make sure it happens for 'all the right reasons' instead of an over-abundance of spelling or grammar mistakes, not sticking to the guidelines or boring your slush reader friends?
Please. We want to accept you as much as you want your baby to get published!