Dear Submitter/Dear Organization: Top Tips from the Other Side

04/18/2019

Submittable connects organizations and submitters: like any good relationship, sometimes that means each member of a couple has ideas for how the other can improve. The time has come to share those tips (and a few from our team) with you—here are some ideas for better serving your better half.

From Organizations: Tips for Submitters

Dear Submitter, Please Be Patient

You can be certain—the excitement is mutual. Organizations are just as happy to receive your submission as you are eager for them to review it. This doesn’t mean, however, that they’ll be able to respond to you immediately. It also doesn’t mean they want to hear from you (or keep hearing from you) before they’ve had a chance to consider what you’ve sent in. For the majority of Submittable organizations, receiving and reviewing submissions is only one small part of the work they do.

Most groups will tell you how long you can expect to await a decision and many will even provide instructions for contacting them if that time period has passed. Be sure to seek out this information before following up regarding your submission. Submittable software is designed to ensure that your work safely arrives in their queue and isn’t lost, so have faith. If wait time seems excessive, and you’ve already attempted to contact the organization directly, please reach out to us and we’ll look into it for you on a case-by-case basis.

Dear Submitter, Follow Guidelines and Double Check

Neglecting to read submission guidelines costs everyone valuable time. Most organizations put considerable thought and attention into providing submitters with all the information they need to make (or decide against making) an appropriate submission. As an editor for Submittable’s blog, on a weekly basis, I receive submissions that are clearly unsuited for publication with us—they vastly exceed our recommended word count, or don’t match our stated criteria/areas of interest. It’s obvious that these writers did not read our guidelines or visit our site.

Not only do inappropriate submissions consume editorial time—they also waste submitter’s time. It is very unlikely, despite the energy (and emotion) you put into crafting a submission or application, that your entry will be successful if you disregard important requirements. Especially in the case of organizations that allow simultaneous submissions, be sure to return the courtesy by conforming with stated guidelines, even if it takes a few extra minutes, some concentration, and a bit of customization.

Speaking of time, do double-check your work before clicking “submit.” While some organizations will open your submission for editing, others don’t and either way, making a correction you would have caught in a final read-through is stressful. Same goes for paying attention to submission fees and additional purchases—both organizations and Submittable’s support team often hear from submitters who have forgotten (or mistakenly made) a purchase and believe they’ve been wrongly charged. Be sure to carefully look over what you’re paying for and your total fee before finalizing your submission.

Dear Submitter, Submission Status Isn’t Everything

Every organization has a different review process and employs Submittable in a distinct way. Some will label or assign new submissions right away (causing a submission to move from Received to In-Progress), even if the submission won’t be reviewed again for some time. Other organizations will hold new submissions in their queue unmodified until their review process begins, resulting in a submission that remains Received well after the initial submission date.

It’s also possible for a submission to have been thoroughly reviewed by an organization without ever moving to an In-Progress status—some teams have reviewers that don’t vote or leave notes that would trigger a status change, or an organization may comment and vote outside the platform.

It’s best not to make assumptions regarding the amount of time or attention your submission has received based on submission status. Organizations can review your submission from the moment it is received, in any status—and most take this process very seriously.

 

From Submitters: Tips for Organizations

Dear Organization: Submission Status DOES Matter

It’s frustrating for individuals tracking their work when a submission status doesn’t accurately reflect, well, a submission’s status. While every organization’s process is distinct, for individual’s monitoring their progress in the platform, consistency matters.

In-Progress: If you’ve communicated with a submitter outside the system, to either accept or decline a submission, be sure to update their status inside the platform. Did you request a revised version of their submission and then accept or decline it? Were they on a waiting list and then admitted (or refused)? Time to bring their submission up to date. It’s also a professional courtesy to update submission status before, or least concurrent, with any public announcement regarding your final decisions or selections.

Completed: If your organization is closing or something has occurred that will keep you from reviewing the submissions currently in your queue, let submitters know that their work is no longer being considered. Not only does this save them from holding out hope, but it also frees them to find the right fit elsewhere. Additionally, the Completed status is a great way to (neutrally) inform a submitter that review is complete, especially when no further action will be taken on a submission.

While submitters can always withdraw a submission in an attempt to make their queue feel more accurate, this may impact your review process. Plus, Submittable’s support team directs submitters requesting a status update to contact the related organization directly, since we aren’t privy to the details of every organization’s process (which may be quite lengthy). Save yourself the extra email and potentially dismayed (and vocal) submitters by proactively updating submission status.

Dear Organization, Please Be Clear, Concise, and Available (Enough)

Organizations can appease a lot of submitter stress by ensuring their submission guidelines are easy to find, thorough, and consistent. If you receive the same question more than once, include it on your website and submission page. Plus, be sure your submission page is clearly linked or that you’ve embedded a “Submit” button—plenty of organizations do both.

It is likely that individuals submitting to your opportunity are considering other opportunities simultaneously. Be conscientious of their time. While thoroughness is helpful, including too much information (especially in dense blocks of text) guarantees that some submitters will skim, and potentially miss vital details. Aim for a balance—and make use of formatting (bullets, numbering, bold, text size) to emphasize key points.

Submittable’s support team is here to help your submitters with the technical aspects of the process. That said, we work with thousands of organizations and may not know the answers to specific queries related to your submission call. Providing at least one contact email is professional and saves everyone time. You’ll also want to consider how in-platform features can enhance your communication strategy.  

Dear Organization, Prioritize Accessibility and Accuracy

Make your opportunity available to more interested people by improving the accessibility of your website and submission page. You’ll find multiple resources, like this one, online to help with the process. To make your Submittable page accessible, follow the steps here. Visit our website to find out more about Submittable’s accessibility policy.

This is a small consideration but even extensive accessibility work isn’t useful if you forget to renew your website domain. We also come across organizations still linking to old “name.submishmash.com” submission forms (from Submittable’s early days) or those whose Submittable page header opens an old or defunct website address. Be sure to check More > Account > Profile to confirm that your information is up to date.

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Submittable is unique, in part, because of its capacity to bring two distinct groups together—who, ideally, make great things happen as a result. Please continue to be in touch if we can further assist with this process. And do reach out if we missed an area of vital concern in this article.

Further resources for communicating with submitters and applicants can be found here and here.

Rachel Mindell

Rachel Mindell is a content creator and strategist for Submittable's Marketing and Product Teams. She also writes and teaches poetry. You can find Rachel's creative work here: rachelmindell.com