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Read all the editors' answers to Duotrope's interview question: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you? Learn more.
Here is a small sampling from our recent Editor Interviews. We have interviewed over 1,550 editors.
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: I tend to think short and simple is best with cover letters. Proofreading is also important. I don’t focus on publication credits much because I would rather take a good piece from an emerging writer than a mediocre one from someone who has been in fifty journals, but I do skim them to see if the person’s work seems to fit with journals that have a similar aesthetic to ours.
A: We don't need a list of every publication you've had, but we definitely want to know if you've never published before! (We seek new voices.) Apart from bios, the most helpful (though not essential) element of a cover letter is a brief (1-2 sentence) synopsis of the piece. More than a tease, it lets us see whether the author has a concise sense of what the piece is really about.
A: I am always looking for the network. Does this writer have a quirky connection...for example, if a writer wrote a memoir on women's rights, do they have connections with the associations that promote women's rights? If so, this is a big deal. It helps spread the word, and in the small press world, word-of-mouth goes further than any internet ad or advert in a magazine.
Of course, I also want to know if you like nachos or not.
A: I only want a bare minimum. KJ articles have a short description of the author (e.g. most recently: X is a resident of Sussex where he is completing his doctoral thesis at Sussex University). I DON'T want previous publication credits - a submission must stand or fall by its own merits.
A: As much as you're willing to tell! We love getting to know the folks we publish, seriously.
A: We love hearing that you have read and enjoyed Dream Pop, especially when you share your thoughts on specific work from past issues.
A: Cover letters help, but please, spare us long analysis of your ms. Just send us the damn ms.
A: I only care about two things in cover letters: pronouns (so I can address people submitting correctly) and content warnings for the piece (so that I can warn readers of the magazine where needed). Publication credits don't matter to me.
A: I ask for a bio in a separate word document attached to the email so I only see previous credits when I have made a decision.
I only want to know if writers are from an under represented group such as disabled writers, BAME, working class, LGBTQ etc.
A: None of this matters to us. We need a third person bio to be published with your work if we decide to go that route, but we don't even read that until we've made a decision about your submission. We read the work and we decide based on the work. That's all. The less we have to sift through to get to your work, the better. All we want is a short bio so that we don't have to ask for it later if your work is accepted.
A: Basic info is fine.
A: Lists of publication credits do not necessarily matter. Cover letters are necessary; they should contain a short bio of the submitter too.