A Madness to the Method

On Tuesday, the official Acidic Fiction submission form officially crapped out. It seems that Google Forms has reduced the size of form responses to 10,000 characters, which meant the existing form could only accept stories with fewer than 1,000 words or so. I’m not sure if this is a new bug or a new “feature,” but it’s enough of a problem that I have to revamp my submission system if I want to keep getting longer submissions (and I do).

Before now, the submission system worked as follows: Authors would submit their short story and some personal information on a Google Form separate from this site. The form responses  were stored on my personal Google Drive account in the form of a Google Sheets spreadsheet, which I would download and save as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Using a mail-merge template I had created in Microsoft Word, I would import the data from the spreadsheet and organize it into individual story submissions contained in one large Microsoft Word document. From this document, I would copy each story submission into a blank document. At that point, I finally read the story.

After I read the story and made my decision, I would copy and paste one of four pre-written response emails from EditPad Lite, inserting the relevant information into the email as necessary. At the end of the email, I would type some notes to the author about why I made that particular decision. I also included the text of the original submission for reference. Once the email was ready, I would copy and paste it into a new message from my dedicated Gmail account, which I would then send to the author. I repeated this story for each of the 50 or so stories I received every week.

Although the process was extremely inelegant (the technical term is “kludge”), it worked fairly well. Most of the actual effort came from setting up the system last fall, and the roughly 1,000 story submissions I’ve received since then have all gone through this system. However, because Google Forms is no longer cooperating, I will start using an entirely new system tomorrow.

The new form will be hosted on acidicfiction.com using a WordPress Plugin called Ninja Forms. This system will send confirmation emails to authors and send the submissions directly to my Gmail account, where I can reply to them directly. Because this system is new, I will still be adjusting to it in the next few weeks, but it shouldn’t be nearly as difficult or complicated than my previous method. It’s also free of charge, which is still my highest priority in selecting a submission system.

If you’ve had trouble submitting to the site in the past because of issues with Google Forms, I hope you’ll try submitting through the new system. We can all discover the inevitable glitches with this system in the days to come, but at least they will be new and improved glitches.

Starting May 1, the link to the form will be available the official submissions page: http://acidicfiction.com/submissions/. Make sure to read the guidelines before you submit anything, or all my hard work (and yours) will be in vain.