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Read all the editors' answers to Duotrope's interview question: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted? Learn more.
Here is a small sampling from our recent Editor Interviews. We have interviewed over 1,675 editors.
Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
A: I think it's important for submitting writers to remember that accepted manuscripts are not superior to rejected ones. We do such a limited list and we want that list to be eclectic and inclusive in terms of gender, race, and other measures. Many great manuscripts get rejected just because of timing (e.g. I might have just accepted two men and am looking for two women, so if you happen to be the next guy up in the queue, you might be rejected no matter how good the manuscript is.). In fact, many of the manuscripts I've rejected have gone on to be published elsewhere and win prizes. Do not despair (too much).
A: If there's maybe a line or two that isn't working for me, I'll ask the writer for some edits. But basically, once I get something I love, it is accepted.
A: If the article is something technical or advanced, I'll ask my creative director, Robin Patterson, to read it. She's an amazing artist and poet but she's new to these topics, so if she reads it and can't understand the article, I'll ask for rewrites or add editorial end-notes. She also evaluates all the artists submissions and poetry submissions and we both always read fiction submissions.
A: Evaluations are text-based. It is about quality and unique choice. Is your topic unusual and interesting? Is your voice compelling? Are you handling your subject matter well? Have you researched your material when required? Do you write well and beautifully?
A: Our first readers read most if not the entire pieces for suitability for the magazine and "ready for publication" (which means -- are there typos? Is it formatted correctly? Does it have an ending?) and then they also consider any impediments to publication or yellow or red flags. For instance, if there is a racist or misogynistic character, how is the story handling it? There's certainly a difference between a racist character and a racist story -- we have featured a lot of stories with racist characters, but we are not interested in publishing racist stories. Plus, they note whether they LIKE the story or if it is doing anything interesting that they admire. In the last call for submissions, we received about 500 stories and fewer than half were approved by the first readers. Then another reader looks at it -- are they seeing what the first reader saw? If they like it too, then the senior editorial team reads it. Generally, the assistant editor reads it first and we try to prioritize the works that got unanimous votes first, so that we can reach out to the authors as quickly as possible. For the stories with mixed reviews, the senior editorial team reads those next -- a surprising number of stories we publish do NOT have a unanimous approval from the team, but that's good. We like our controversial picks.
A: Very important: it wasn't published anywhere else. We do first electronic rights so NRM should be the first place where your piece is published.
A: In-house company review.
A: At the moment, our whole team reads each piece and votes on it through Submittable. We'll probably streamline that process in the future. After stories and poems are voted on, we start in person conversations.
A: We judge a writer's competency based on their query letter. If it's is organized, error-free, and pitches a great idea, it's highly doubtful the final article will be rejected. That's why we still pay for articles that are later rejected (which is very, very rare). We pay a 100% kill fee.