Oops – by Debra H. Goldstein
Recently, I started ordering a few meals a week from Home Chef. They pretty much are no-brainers. The quality is good, the portions more than ample, the directions simple. Everything I need comes in the box in a timely manner. Technically, each is a foolproof means of serving a perfect dinner. That is, until I got my hands on them.
All my life, it was instilled in me to broil not fry. The difference between frying and sautéing was something I was never taught. When many of the Home Chef meals required the use of a frying pan and a small amount of olive oil, I was a little leery. But then I decided, how hard could it be to put the tsp of olive oil in a medium frying pan, heat it, and drop the protein in for 5-7 minutes on each side?
I gathered my supplies: a non-stick frying pan, olive oil, and a tbsp measuring spoon and went to work. Carefully, I measured out two spoons of oil, dropped the oil into the now heating frying pan, and prepared myself, once it was warm enough, to carefully place the protein into the pan. As I turned the pan from side to side to coat it with the oil, I didn’t think it looked like I was getting a good cover, so I added a little more olive oil. When the heated oil sputtered a little, I turned the flame down and added the protein.
Within moments, oil was flying all over the stovetop, counter, floor, and overhead fan. I couldn’t understand why, so I doublechecked the directions. That’s when I caught the difference between the tsp of oil the recipe called for and the tbsp plus the bonus hit of oil I used. Oops.
It was a mess, but I managed to salvage our dinner. The same wouldn’t have been true if I were submitting a story or book for consideration. By failing to follow the submission guidelines, I would have received a rejection faster than I cleaned up my kitchen. Just like on my recipe card, agents, editors, and those putting out story calls, expect one to follow the stated submission guidelines.
I should have read the cooking directions more carefully and made sure the measuring spoon was a tsp rather than a tbsp. The same holds true for a writer who recently asked an editor, who had put out a call for “cozy mysteries featuring an amateur sleuth,” whether a story with a policeman would work. The response was a reference back to the words “amateur sleuth.”
Had that story been submitted, it would have been rejected as quickly as the oil spread a slick layer across my kitchen. Cleaning up wasn’t pleasant, but at least we came out of the situation with dinner. Failing to follow submission guidelines will leave an author with nothing to show for the time or effort put into creating the book or story.