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Read all the editors' answers to Duotrope's interview question: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it? Learn more.
Here is a small sampling from our recent Editor Interviews. We have interviewed over 2,050 editors.
Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: Generally, we evaluate at least 30 pages of each manuscript. Sometimes it's a lot more than that; sometimes I can tell in the first few paragraphs that a book isn't going to be right for the house, but I read on regardless, skipping around sometimes to make sure I'm not missing anything. The only exception would be if a book is in completely the wrong genre - for example, we don't publish children's fiction, so I don't read children's fiction submissions.
A: We generally read at least a quarter of each collection we receive, although some collections show that they are clearly not a good fit in the first one or two pieces.
A: It differs from piece to piece, but bad writing will show itself as quickly as good writing. Exceptional writing makes itself known immediately. I read and reread pieces to make a decision sometimes.
A: All of it.
A: We try to give every submission a solid chance, but as we're all volunteers, we aren't always able to read an entire submission if the beginning is extremely unpromising.
A: The first few pages of submissions are the most important!
A: As I request a maximum of 5 haiku per entry, I read every single haiku all the way through at least once, often up to 10 times before I make a final decision. The full process of how I select haiku for the site can be found on the Selection Page.
A: We can generally tell a piece isn’t right in the first 2 pages.
A: We read all submitted work in its entirety; this is a necessary respect shown to our submitters. (The only exception is if a submitter does not read our submission guidelines and submits, like, a hundred page photo album to nonfiction. That's an automatic no, even if we've looked at all the photos.)
Two readers are assigned to each submission during a normal non-contest submission period, and if they wildly differ in their opinions, a third reader or editor will be assigned. When we're in the later stages of building an issue, more editors and assistant editors might read a piece. Even if it's ultimately a decline, it's likely one of our readers found something to appreciate about your work.
A: Sometimes I can tell within the first few pages, but I usually try to read to the end. If I really love an ending, that will make me re-assess a piece. We often do revise & resubmits where we'll work with a writer if it's a concept we really love or if it's _almost_ there. But don't try to bury your diamond at the very end! It's usually more difficult to uncover that way.
A: We only ask for pitches (not full pieces) via our submissions page, so the pitch really needs to sell your story to us. If we do receive the full body of a story, it's usually within a paragraph or two that we can tell whether it will work for us or not. The piece needs a strong hook and demonstration of writing skill, and it needs to be relevant to our magazine.
A: I read it all. Then make a decision. If it's immediately awful I read it out of curiosity anyway.