So. Here are some mistakes that were made by the authors submitting to this contest. Funny thing (or not so funny, depending on how you look at it), NONE of these items were singular events. More than one person made each of the mistakes listed below.
1. Submitting after deadline has passed. Deadlines were clearly stated in large, bold, colorful type. Submissions received after the deadline were excluded from the contest.
2. Word count too high. Before you submit, make sure you check your word count. Most software will do this for you. If your's won't, invest in new software. Most contests/magazines don't give you a chance to fix and resubmit.
3. No title on your story. I didn't explicitly state that each story needed a title, but these are short stories. Short stories need titles.
4. Additional submissions did not contain contact info. Your name, contact info, word count and, for this contest, whether you were a published or unpublished author, needs to be included in every submission. Treat each submission as if it was your only submission. Don't assume the editor will know and/or remember that you're the same John Doe who submitted a story a week before.
5. No title in Subject line. I didn't specify that you include the title in the subject line of your e-mail, but it helps. Especially when an editor is looking for a specific story but can't remember the author's name, and 80% of the submissions say "Christmas Story" in the subject line.
6. Authors did not know if they were published/unpublished author. I thought the guidelines were clear on this. There was one person who had a situation that did need clarification from me, but the others should have been able to figure it out by reading the submission guidelines carefully.
7. Authors sent published stories. Again, I thought it was clear what was to be considered published and what was not. And again, there was only one request that really needed my clarification.
8. Authors asked where to send the submission/Authors asked where their stories would be posted. ??? I'm guessing someone told them about the contest, gave them my e-mail, but didn't send them to my website. But still. All of that is covered in the submission guidelines for the contest. The funny thing is, the second question was asked several days after the story was submitted. Never submit your story anywhere if you don't know the details of the contest.
9. Adding me to your joke list. You don't know the editor. The editor is not your friend. The editor gets enough e-mail already. Do NOT send the editor jokes or sentimental e-mail spam. Don't send them to me either.
10. Did not vote for yourself. The whole reason I gave you TWO votes in each category was so you could vote for yourself, and then vote for someone else. Okay, in real life, you rarely get the chance to vote on whether or not your story gets accepted for publication. But it's the attitude of not voting that's going to work against you. If you don't believe in your story enough to "vote" for it, why should the editor?
I am now heading off for my Christmas vacation. I will be back after New Year's.
Happy Holidays to each of you.