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 1,850 editors.

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

A: We read all the poems to the end. We have a shortlist which we update all the time and from which we choose the poems to be published. These poems are read and reread many times...

A: I read every submission, working in concert with a small team of other editors--and yes, acceptances and rejections are quickly apparent.

A: Every submission is read by a minimum of two editors. We read well into each manuscript for an initial pass to identify works that aren't a fit for the press,. We read entire manuscripts after that point. In rare cases, we will rule out a manuscript if it's fundamentally disrespectful to specific groups of people.

A: After a while, you get a feel for where a piece is going. If a story doesn't hook me in the first few pages, I have to move on. I do make every effort to read every piece end to end on a case by case basis. First and foremost, I start reading with an open mind. You never know where I story might lead.

Kristen Simental, Editor-in-Chief of Five South, 16 November 2020

A: I've always disliked this question. I read enough to know if the work has sold me. I generally know what I like, what I'm going to accept, very quickly. Other times, I will re-read poems many times before deciding one way or another. One small tragedy is that it can be difficult to delicately explain the particulars in this blood sport...we use words like "submission" and "rejection" and "acceptance"...so a poet will often receive a form rejection or a rather vague one line personal rejection in which I say something like "I hope you will submit more work down the road." That one line means a lot more than it may seem.

A: We don’t necessarily “reject” anything. Selection for our front page magazine is determined by the diverse rates of our editors. Everything submitted in the forum is managed by the content creator, so it can stay and be viewed as long as you wish.
The editors are only human, so we read when our individual schedular permit. That will determine when we get to your piece. We like to take our time and have lots of user content to choose from. That’s why we constantly seek new members to freshen our community and perspectives.

A: Sometimes it takes us several weeks to decide if we want to keep a piece or not, sometimes it takes a few minutes. But each submission does get a thorough reading before the final decision is made.

A: I read every poem that is sent to me. If I really dislike the first two or three, I will still plow forward because I don't ever want to let a good poem slip through my hands. However, if a poem offers me nothing in its first half, I will probably hurry through the rest of it.

A: We’re looking for work with a very specific vibe, and we can usually tell if it’s not going to be for us sometimes as early as the first couple of paragraphs. The rule we follow is “read until we’re sure.” That said, there are many wonderful stories that get read right to the end even if they may not be for us. Sometimes, we’ll get a story that’s fantastic but not our “vibe,” and we’ll ask the writer to send us something else—and it hits the nail on the head.

A: We read an entire pitch and make a decision with one other editor before rejecting it. If a pitch isn't right, it's usually because the essay isn't focused on discussing an object--it's straight memoir, say, or a political essay. We want your argument to come in the form of cultural exploration through the lens of a specific object or experience or artist. We read an entire poem and discuss it with an additional editor before rejecting it.

Liz Charlotte Grant, Contributing Editor of The Curator, 09 November 2020

A: That's an impossible question to give a single answer to. It all depends on the quality of the writing, its appropriateness for our list, and so on. Writers shouldn't worry about this -- they should look at the quality of the publisher's list and trust that the publisher is dedicated, meticulous, and objective in the way they process submissions.

Gregory Wolfe, Publisher & Editor of Slant, 05 November 2020

A: I can usually tell within the first page, but I always read every piece through to the end. It's just giving the writers the respect they deserve for having the courage to write in the first place, much less send their work out to be evaluated.