Follow the Guidelines
I’m sure I’ve told you some things you already know, but maybe I’ve told you something you didn’t, or possibly shed additional light on those things you did. But I know you’ve heard this. You’ve probably heard it so many times you’re sick of it, but it’s just as true now as the first time you heard it.
Make sure you follow submission guidelines exactly. Even if they tell you to send your manuscript in TNR 8, or Jokerman 16, their guidelines exist for a reason. (And no, I don’t know of anyone who actually has these guidelines! *grin*) Maybe their email platform does strange things to files, or maybe their software doesn’t play well with certain file types. Maybe they just like the way the manuscript looks in Jokerman 16. Or maybe they just want to see if you still remember the number one rule you learned in Kindergarten.
Even if it seems arbitrary to you, there are usually reasons for the guidelines, so make sure you follow them. And please don’t ask if you can do something different unless there is a very good reason for the deviation. For example, if an editor tells you to send your full manuscript in an .rtf, .doc, or .docx file, don’t ask if you can send it as a .pdf. I had this happen. The author wanted to send a .pdf because they were concerned the other file types would ruin their formatting. I explained that if it was accepted, it would have to be reformatted following our guidelines and template anyway, so a .pdf wasn’t necessary. The author wasn’t obnoxious, but I got the distinct impression the author still wasn’t happy about it. They agreed to send it, but they were still concerned about their formatting. This might sound snarky, but I promise it’s not intended that way. My only thought to this comment from the author was, “What kind of formatting are you using that it would be messed up by not having it in a .pdf file?” Maybe they were just concerned with the way different programs communicate (or don’t) with each other. That would be perfectly understandable, but our file had to be a .doc file when our content editors sent the files to the line editors. I’m not sure what the author's concern was, or if they had tried something special in the .pdf format, something to make it look like a book, but I didn’t see anything wrong with the format when the manuscript was sent as the file type I requested.
So please, please follow the guidelines, no matter how normal or strange they seem.