Are you pitching your manuscript? If so, then you already know that there are dozens of different guidelines. Some publishers/agents require the first fifteen pages of your book while others ask for a detailed synopsis. Regardless of demands, if there's one thing that I highly recommend to all you poets, journalists or novelists out there, it's follow the guidelines flawlessly. Doing so instantly gives your work the consideration it deserves.
Six years ago, I pitched my first manuscript. Agentless, I went fishing on dozens of publisher's site, sending my full work to be reviewed. The only problem was, I ignored each and every publisher's guidelines. After the first three rejection letters, I asked myself, "What am I doing wrong?" Luckily, a friend of mine, and well established writer, was kind enough to guide me in the right direction. He gently popped my bubble by reminding me that every part of a submission is an assessment. You wouldn't go into an interview and ignore the employer's questions would you? So why do it with your submission?
Sure enough, once I got with the program, I received four letters of interest. My book wasn't any better or worse than any other, but I followed direction. I've read editor and agent blogs that moan about queries all the time. While I admit they can be tough on writers, it's still good to err on the side of caution. If you gamble on guidelines, you're not just risking your manuscript, you're risking future submissions.
John Wooden once said, "It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen." If you're uncertain about query requests, there are hundreds of online aids that can help. Just make sure that you're meticulousness in your submission. It's all about paying attention to detail, a creative pitch and a great story. Do that, and the rest will fall into place.