At a time when the world of scientific publishing is evolving rapidly, it is important to recall why publishing in FEMS journals is beneficial not only for the authors, but also for the microbiology community as a whole. Benefits for the authors include very high download rates (especially for FEMS Microbiology Letters), which ensure that your work is seen by the widest possible readership. Unlike most open access journals, authors can choose between publishing their data free of charge, or selecting the Online Open option. Authors appreciate the fact that colour figures are published free of charge: their inclusion is positively encouraged to make a text more appealing. Equally important are the massive advantages to the scientific community of publishing in FEMS journals – and for that matter, in other journals published by FEMS member societies. Journal income is the lifeblood for the vast majority of FEMS activities. Much of it is spent on grants for meetings, paying not only the costs associated with inviting high profile invited speakers, but also to help young microbiologists attend. FEMS also provides scholarships for scientific exchanges; again, the emphasis being on helping younger scientists, not only from Europe, but also from other parts of the world. Students from across the world benefitted greatly from grants awarded for the 2013 FEMS Congress in Leipzig. By publishing your science in FEMS Microbiology Letters, you are actively supporting the vibrant community of European microbiology.

In an electronic age, worldwide internet access has largely replaced the requirement for printed journals that now serve the needs of only a minority of the community. Consequently, this year copies of FEMS Microbiology Letters will no longer be printed. Two additional features are being introduced: there will be a graphical abstract for every paper accepted for publication; there will also be a one-line summary of key points in the manuscript, allowing readers to filter rapidly papers in each issue of the journal. Last year FEMS Microbiology Letters published its first thematic issue entitled ‘Actinobacteria within soils: capacities for mutualism, symbiosis and pathogenesis'. This will be followed this year by two more thematic issues, one on ‘Systems and Synthetic Biology’, based upon presentations at the 2013 FEMS Congress, the other on ‘Pseudomonads’, based upon a meeting held in Lausanne from 7–11 September 2013.

Most authors do not see the extensive work completed ‘behind the scene’ both by the members of the Editorial Board, and especially by staff in the FEMS Publications Office. It is a pleasure to acknowledge and thank them for their invaluable work. Ultimately, however, the success of a journal depends upon you, the authors. Please keep submitting your nice data to our journal, but remember that if you under-sell your work by submitting a dull title, a poor abstract, an introduction that fails to state why the work was necessary, or the conclusions that flow from it, both the handling editor and the readers will be disappointed with the final product. It is the ethos of the FEMS Microbiology Letters Editorial Board and Publications Office to help authors get excellent work published: please help us achieve this goal. We wish you every success in 2014.