Editor Interviews

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Read all the editors' answers to Duotrope's interview question: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you? Learn more.

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Here is a small sampling from our recent Editor Interviews. We have interviewed over 1,650 editors.

Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?

A: The three of us are ESL teachers by day, so we teach Korean college students how to use the present progressive tense and what not.
Regarding our roles as editors: we three read each piece and keep notes in a shared document. Then we meet once a week or so to discuss the submissions and discuss the merits and fit of each piece and make a decision.

A: I'm a medical content provider (continuing education products, pocasting, textbook chapters, blogs, patient advocacy columns, admin/moderation, etc.) for most of my day, so swapping the writer's hat for the editor's hat only happens quarterly, but it's great fun and a welcomed change of pace. I find that 99/100 of the writers I work with are happy with the process from beginning to end and I'm genuinely thrilled to put their work out into the world. I do ALL the things, by the way--I manage submissions, make selections, write acceptances and rejections, decision each page of each issue, do all the proofing, galley management, and digital publishing, as well as the promotions, etc. Yes, it's a lot, but most writers I work with appreciate it, fortunately. I've worked in publishing since the days of typesetting (1980s) and love the entire process.

Tamara Sellman RPSGT CCSH, Editor, curator, producer of Vitamin ZZZ, 16 March 2019

A: I usually sleep with a novel, a poetry book, and my diary with me. The diary has the names of the submitters and their pieces of work. The novel these days is Miriam Darlington’s ‘Owl Sense’, the poetry collection is Willa Carrol’s ‘Nerve Chorus’ — my days begin with reading a few pages from each. After which I get on with Gmail read several submissions, mark which pieces to simply reject, and which to keep for further reading. And it’s later in the month that I again select 4-5 pieces from all the ‘to be read again’ ones. So, sometimes the days are just hectic — more so when the writers submitting to us don’t know what they’re submitting (yes, it’s quite a common phenomenon!)

A: It takes a lot of time and effort and it really cuts into my time for reading other things.

A: I tend to read submissions in batches, make initial notes on each piece, then put them aside for a second read. I think about the work we either have accepted or are considering to get a sense of how the piece will fit into the journal. If I like a piece, I begin thinking about placement, artwork, and other nuts and bolts issues.
I spend a lot of time thinking about how the pieces should fit - do I keep three poems by one person together or will they work better if separated? Is the contest winner the right piece to begin with? What should anchor the middle of the book?
I generally edit with a light touch, but sometimes, a piece is good but needs more revision than punctuation. In that case, I ask the writer if they are comfortable with my editing. If not, no hard feelings. We can part company.

A: Morning prayer, first and foremost, often coupled with study of sacred literature. Then breakfast and coffee with my wife Ember--and sometimes our cat Perchisiwilt if we are having eggs or potato salad. Then come the emails, and if there are any ms. proposals, those are taken care of first. After that, it's a day of household duties, long walks, editing, writing, book formatting, new anthology ideas, TV and movie viewing, cover designs, and more editing. Background music, when played at all, widely varies from Reconcile and Sevin to the Mermen and Aqua Velvets to John Michael Talbot and Kemper Crabb to Larry Norman and Bob Dylan to Miles Davis and Vince Guaraldi to Starflyer 59 and Joy Electric to 16 Horsepower and Wovenhand.

A: The majority of my time is spent reading pieces that have been sent to me by the other editors, making sure the magazine's homepage is up-to-date, managing the magazine's social networks, carrying out/editing interviews, and trying to think of new ways the magazine can make money.
I have an amazing team of editors that I work with: assistant editor, Callum McAllister, and poetry editor, Christina Thatcher. They do all the initial reading of work and share shortlists with me. They both know the tone of the magazine so well that we very rarely disagree on what should be accepted; if they shortlist something, 99 per cent of the time it'll be published.

A: During our open submission period: Wake up. Read. Have a snack. Read. Another snack. Read. Watch the snow fall. Repeat. - Ally

Ariel Chu, Rainie Oet, Myriam Lacroix, Ally Young, Editor in Chief of Salt Hill, 27 February 2019

A: This is one of two half-time jobs for me, alongside a few smaller gigs (the romantic freelance life). I devote two long full days to CRAFT each week, plus odd hours here and there on the other days. On a full day, I might start with some reading, then some editing while I'm most fresh, then the weekly assignments for our readers and editors, followed by tidying up in Submittable, and then filling the social media dock with posts for a few days, then some WordPress work like building pages for the stories. When putting in a ten-hour day, I find it very helpful to change up the work every hour or so.

Katelyn Keating, editor in chief of CRAFT, 24 February 2019

A: The Drabblecast has two talented Associate Editors, Samantha Henderson and Sandra Odell, who are both accomplished writers, and they split the bulk of first reads with new submissions. They pass stories on to me that they recommend for further consideration. Ideally all three of us will agree on a story, and that has almost always been the case.

Norm Sherman, Chief Editor of Drabblecast, 24 February 2019

A: Well, it's 10 pm on a Sunday and I'm working on EAL. I integrate my editorial work into a professorial career that also includes original research, graduate student mentorship, teaching, administration, service, and whatever is left for "life" in the work-life balance magic. EAL often comes first. I read everything I get and often by the time something appears in print I've studied it a dozen times or more. A bit of a perfectionist. I also work with folks all over the world to develop and promote the journal.

A: I have a day job, like most other small lit mag editors. I fit in editorial responsibilities wherever I can.