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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 2,200 editors.
Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: Sometimes the first page is enough for us to say no, if the writing just isn't good at all -- a surprisingly large fraction of the submissions we get fall into this category. If the writing is at least decent on a sentence-by-sentence level, the first few pages are usually enough for me to decide whether I'm finding a book compelling or not. If were in a bookstore and picked this book up and read the first few pages, would I want to take it home with me and read the rest? Or would I put it down and keep looking for something else? It's the same test for the unpublished books that come in to us. On a typical day we might have 2 or 3 or 5 or 7 novels arrive in our inbox, and there is no way for us to read them all, so we briefly dip into each and see which one (if any) makes us want to keep reading. A few pages is almost always enough.
A: We genuinely read every piece to the end. All submissions are read numerous times by Jonathan and I (Nidhi) and we have Zoom meetings where we discuss the craft behind every poem.
A: We read each piece a few times over to get a sense of its intention and effect. All submissions are passed to at least two editors for review, and everything is read until the end. We take notes on the unique qualities of all submissions and prepare individual feedback for writers aged 13-22.
A: We read each piece thoroughly. Front to back. period.
A: Really depends. I can be out on a title, the first line, the first paragraph. Or I may read it ten times. We have four fiction editors and myself, so every has a different process. I may read the opening, feel it's cliche, skip to the end, be surprised, go back and start over. The writing may be so bad—grammar, voice, misogyny, cliches—that I pass very early. I try to give it a full page. If there are 3/4 or 4/4 no votes from my staff I may never even see it. They have the power to reject. The harder part is when there are 2/4 yes and 2/4 no or a maybe, and we have to read and re-read. Some stories are so amazing that it's 5/5 and an instant yes. But those are pretty rare. Even the great stories may have a mixed response.
A: We aim to read everything we receive, with the notable exception that we don't follow through with anything unkind or slanderous.
A: All of it, unless i get bored, confused, nauseated, or disgusted. If the thing has unnecessary sex or violence, it's gone.
A: WE generally know within a page or two... but in most cases we do read to the end.
A: We read the whole thing, we eat the bones.
A: Between 1 and 3 weeks.
A: Everything gets read, but not always to the end with larger pieces.
A: Most are read to the end. That being said, we can sometimes tell very quickly if a piece will not be accepted.