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 1,675 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 poems quickly and only linger on poems that are in keeping with our preferred styles, before responding quickly.

Cyril Wong, Founding Editor of SOFTBLOW, 17 June 2019

A: We try to take every rejection seriously, and not dismiss quality material that might have a rocky start. We don't promise to read EVERY piece to the end, but most of them.

A: I try to read 25-50 pages before deciding, but a few things will make a piece easy to reject. If it's single-spaced or has typos on the first page, it's an automatic rejection.

A: Since I ask for stories up to 750 words,I always read the entire piece before making the decision, but it's usually obvious if a piece isn't quite right within the first couple of sentences.

A: I read the whole piece. Every word. I won't let a weak opening stop me from getting to the gold. If there's a way the article or story can be fixed, I'll make suggestions and ask for a rewrite. If the piece is off-topic or too much work to save, then I'll send a rejection. And I try to be as gentle as i can.

A: There are many rounds of evaluation in our process. Each submission receives at least three reads from three separate readers at each level of evaluation.
The earliest stages of evaluation depend heavily on a well-written synopsis and outline, which helps our readers to enter the text more easily. At each level, the material is read more and more carefully -- the way the editing process moves from the most basic to the most precise forms of attention.

A: I do not read every piece to the end, but usually someone on our team has before it gets to me. The senior editors make the final decisions on keep or kill, but our first and second editorial assistants or readers will usually have gone through a piece front to back and written some notes on the reading. Generally, I can get a good vibe for a piece by the end of the first page, usually by the halfway point. I've certainly been wrong, but typically a piece that starts well is going to end well.
Also, this is entirely anecdotal, but it seems like a high percentage of stories that I end up bailing by the first page either start with an alarm clock going off/the character waking up, a piece of cold-open dialogue or the character looking out a window. That's weirdly coincidental, right? And yet, it keeps being true.

Wendy Wimmer, Fiction Editor of Witness, 04 June 2019

A: All of it, of course.

Wayne-Daniel Berard, Co-Founding Editor of Soul-Lit, 03 June 2019

A: It actually depends.
We make sure to read everything all the time. Although we can tell the story is going to be good from the first few sentences or paragraph. There will be submissions where we can tell it's already a 'no' simply because of sentence structure, grammar or the story isn't that interesting at all. *nervous smile

A: We can tell much from the proposal and sample chapters.

A: I can usually tell after two poems or 1,000 words if I need to keep reading and considering the submission.80% of the time I read submissions to the end, and 20% of the time I re-read them a second time for further consideration. 20% of the time I just know it isn't going to work for our publication before I read the entire thing.

A: Our goal is to read every piece to the end.