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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 1,650 editors.
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: We want to know the author's name, pen name if any, mailing address, email address and telephone contact. We ask for a short bio and a hi-res photo with submissions. That is the only information we require. If the writer is a member of a professional writer's organization and wants to list that, it is an indication that they understand the process and will interact with us professionally, but is certainly not required. The same can be said for previous publishing credits.
A: Yes, a good author bio is hard to ignore, but many times the author has claimed hundreds of publications and we've found the work not for us. So the pub list/bio can raise our expectations / hopes a little at first, but by no means dictates our decision.
A: Cover letters are useful after I've made decisions. I do want to know where their work has appeared before if they are submitting it as a potential reprint so I can easily update the acknowledgments page.
As I previously described, I definitely want to know something about their relationship to sleep, as this is part of the conversational quality between the writer and reader that I value and seek to provide in each issue of VitaminZZZ.
A: We prefer having a little cover letter, only to help us with titles. We hardly bother about previous publication credits — we’ve published a few writers for their very first time already.
A: Yes, very much.
A: Personally. I don’t read the cover letters until after I have read the piece submitted. Then, I am curious about the work of the person - and not just the writing A thoughtful piece on a ruined beach by someone who is a climate change activist may pique my interest in particular. A very young writer’s fresh view of something usually taken for granted is also interesting. Generally cute bios do nothing for me. I am largely uninterested in whether the writer has kids or pets, unless, of course, they are writing about kids or pets.
I have to like the submission first, though.
A: A cover letter is important because it establishes an immediate relationship between editor and writer. Previous publication credits are interesting, and can even be impressive, but have little bearing on whether the ms. is accepted for publication or not.
A: We don't care about cover letters. If you've been published elsewhere, that's great, and absolutely include that in your bio so if we do choose your piece, we can include and help promote you and your other work; but that's not a deciding factor. We've published plenty of first stories and poems, and we'll continue to.
A: While knowing a bit about the writer helps us contextualize the writing, we appreciate writers that let the work mostly speak for itself. We love coming across work we're excited about, and whether or not a writer has been published before isn't really relevant. Some works by well published authors don't resonate with us, and some works by barely published authors have us sending e-mails to each other with many exclamation points! - Myriam
A: We tend to read the cover letter after the piece. Publication credits are not very important, as we love to publish both new and established writers. The presence of a brief, personal, professional cover letter can lend insight into what the potential editorial process would be with a submitter, but in no way makes or breaks a decision.
A: I absolutely do not care about cover letters. I think they're a waste of everyones time. Any editor is lying to you if they say that previous publication credits don't matter to some degree, but they don't need to drawn out in some long cover letter. List 3 or 4 previous publications in a short, single paragraph.
A: The only essentials are knowing how to reach the person and, if they have an institutional affiliation, the name of that institution.