Do people read the rules when they join an online community? I don’t think so because if they did I wouldn’t have to waste my time explaining why I’ve just denied their submission to join a private forum the day after they join the message board (which I no longer do because if they can’t be bothered doing the right thing then why should I be bothered).
This makes me wonder if people actually read the guidelines, given by an editor or publisher, before they submit their manuscript.
It’s important to remember that the guidelines are there for a reason and if we (in our wisdom) decide that we’re going to ignore them, then it’s a sure way to receive a rejection letter. That’s fine if your goal is to receive the most rejection letters in writing history but if that’s not the case then you’re simply wasting your time and money on countless submission that will never be read, let alone be accepted.
Most publishing houses receive dozens, if not hundreds, of submissions in a month and it would be annoying to see that their guidelines are constantly ignored. That alone would see your work returned unread. What’s more, and this is the most important part, if an author can’t be bothered following simple instructions before they are represented then how can the publisher be sure that they would follow editing instructions afterwards. That might be a risk they are not willing to take.
A serious writer will follow the guidelines. It will show that you’re a professional, that you know what is expected and this might get your manuscript off the slush pile into the editor’s hands.
What happens then will depend on your writing, but that’s a different post.