Editor Interviews

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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.

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Here is a small sampling from our recent Editor Interviews. We have interviewed over 1,600 editors.

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

A: I can't speak for my co-editors, but with fiction if the first line or first paragraph does not engage me, or seems hackneyed and contrived, I don't bother with the rest. With poetry I skim first to see if it feels overwritten, uses cliches or uses words that seem, to me, meant to convey "big ideas" but never follow through.

A: We can generally tell if a piece isn’t right for us after a few paragraphs. A story needs to have a strong beginning.

A: We read every piece to the end. Easier for us than for some other publications, because almost everything we publish is short: rarely over 50 lines for poetry or 500 words for prose.

A: At least two staff members read every piece of writing to the end in order to properly evaluate it. We have read pieces where while the beginning is confusing or bland, the endings have been extraordinary, and vice versa.

A: I'm guilty of being the person on staff who makes everyone re-read something they've previously rejected because I tend give a piece a lot of time to develop, even if there is just a small spark of something there in the first page. Some of our other editors can tell more quickly if something isn't right for the magazine. Unfortunately, I think I am also guilty of extending response times because of how long I spend on each piece.

A: We use a detailed evaluation rubric to give every submission a fair and objective reading, but it's often very easy to identify unpublishable content without reading to the end. The difficult readings are those that are competently, even beautifully written but which never come to a point or which never deliver a satisfactory resolution.

A: We generally read to the end just in case there is something really surprising and interesting waiting for us. But if the first few pages aren't drawing us in, we've usually decided not to accept the piece by that point.

A: It depends on the piece. I personally select every poem or work of prose the staff reviews, and I typically read the entire work, though sometimes I can tell within the first page whether or not it will be a good fit. If there's too many grammatical errors or misspellings, to me, that shows the author didn't take care to proofread thoroughly, so why should I?

A: We read every piece to the end, usually twice, and if it's poetry, usually aloud.

A: Since we work with relatively short pieces, we always read the whole thing. We also offer a lot of feedback and help the author make the piece better. We have published stories that came to us pretty rough. But since they were cool ideas, we worked with the authors to make the story stronger.

A: All submissions are completely read by at least three of our editors. We are thorough.

David Martin, Managing Editor of Fine Lines, 05 October 2018

A: The haiku, senryu, tanka, haiga, haibun and Youth Corner editors are published and reputable poets. They take great care to read every piece that is submitted thoroughly and often offer critical feedback to refine and tweak a piece to make it publishable.

Sonam Chhoki, Editor-in-chief of Cattails, 21 September 2018