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Editor Interview: The Dawn Review

Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.

A: Striking, refractive work

Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?

A: I love The Rumpus, Waxwing Literary Journal, Muzzle Magazine, The Margins, THRUSH, and American Poetry Review.

Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?

A: In terms of poetry, I love Dorothea Lasky, Sarah Ghazal Ali, Arthur Sze, Eileen Myles, and Gabrielle Bates. Other poets on our editing team really enjoy Topaz Winters, Jenny Xie, Ada Limón, Patrycja Humienik, and Katherine Bratt. Meanwhile, our prose editors love Min Jin Lee and K-Ming Chang. Heidi, our art director, likes Gustav Klimt, Joaquin Sorolla, Berthe Morisot, and Jeff Simpson.

Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?

A: One thing that definitely sets us apart is the fact that we give free, detailed feedback to every submission upon request! I know of many magazines that offer paid feedback, but The Dawn Review is the only magazine I’ve seen to offer free feedback. It’s definitely tough for a relatively small team of editors to provide personalized feedback on hundreds of pieces. However, it’s important for us as a magazine to support everyone who chooses to submit. Feedback is invaluable for any writer, which is why The Dawn Review is a place where people can go to read memorable work, but also to improve their craft. The simultaneous existence of these two factors hopefully goes to show that emerging voices are an essential part of the writing community– that the pursuit of great writing should never be inaccessible.

Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?

A: I have two pieces of advice that seem contradictory, but actually aren’t. First, don’t be afraid to submit! Even if you don’t get published, you will still have the opportunity to receive valuable feedback. Second, keep in mind that we are looking to publish your strongest work. We read through hundreds of submissions each month, and we want to hear the strongest, most interesting distillation of your voice. Basically, make sure you give your work the attention it needs, and we will do the same!

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal submission shows us something new– a new form, a new subject, a new combination of words. We don’t want to simply read your truth; we want to see it refracted into its disparate pieces and molded into what it should have been all along. We want you to show us how solid surfaces are fluid, and in doing so, to reveal something truly permanent beneath the clamor.

Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?

A: Often, submitters forget to grant us edit access before sending us a link to their piece. Please remember to change the sharing settings so we can actually read your piece!

Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?

A: We ask for your name and your email so we can respond to your submission appropriately. We also ask for a short bio to include in our issue in case your piece is selected for publication. Your identity and your credentials have absolutely no impact on how we view your piece.

Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?

A: We read your entire piece before making any type of judgment on it. Every piece is read and discussed by at least two editors, and some pieces are read and discussed by three or more editors.

Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?

A: Conditionally accepted pieces will undergo a few rounds of in-house edits before publication. However, once we accept your piece, any in-house edits must be approved by the contributor.

Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?

A: When the Dawn Review was just starting out, I was involved in every aspect of the magazine, from tracking submissions to writing feedback to reading staff applications to marketing. Today, the process looks quite different. Evan and Grace, our executive editors, meet biweekly with each editor to assign submissions and discuss pieces from the previous two weeks. Sometimes, when both editors agree on a decision, we respond to the submitter immediately. After that, I have another discussion with Evan and Grace to finalize more difficult decisions and write edits for conditional acceptances. During each of these conversations, our editors are looking for reasons to accept your piece, not reasons to reject! Meanwhile, I design issues, create our social media posts, manage staff applications, update the website, and communicate with contributors about in-house edits. Our editing process is incredibly fluid, and many editors are also involved with various other aspects of the magazine, such as the blog, the Dawn Prize for Poetry, and higher-level editorial decisions.

Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?

A: I think it’s definitely helpful for publications to embrace modern technologies. Our editing team communicates entirely online, which has enabled us to build an editing community of people from all around the world. On a similar note, our online submissions system enables people from anywhere in the world to submit. It's often difficult for writers to find in-person communities, so online communication fosters an important sense of connection. Furthermore, because we are online, we are able to provide detailed feedback to submitters at no cost.

Q: How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication?

A: It depends! For many pieces, we barely make any edits. For others, we make small edits to grammar and syntax, which will only be implemented with the approval of the writer. Sometimes, we work with the writer through two or three rounds of revisions to ensure that their piece is publication-ready. If your piece is accepted, any details about further edits will be included in your acceptance letter.

Q: Do you nominate work you've published for any national or international awards?

A: Yes! We currently nominate for The Pushcart Prizes and Best of the Net.