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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 2,000 editors.

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

A: I always begin by reviewing submissions that come through the slush. The day consists of editing works or corresponding with authors regarding their texts. This intermingles with updating the Web-site with completed pieces.

A: Late nights, coffee, and lots of different folders in our inbox.

A: I direct the low-residency MFA program in creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, am department chair of Languages, Literature, and Philosophy, direct the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium, teach at least two classes per semester, and have lots of other things going on besides Poetry South. Sitting down to read for Poetry South is a joy and a relief from all those other activities, but it does not happen every day. Sometimes I even find time to write my own poems and submit them to other magazines. Whenever possible, I find a 2-3 hour window when I can reach a number of submissions, mark the ones I'm most interested as yes or maybe, and return the ones I'm less interested in as soon as possible. I try to review about a month's worth of submissions at a time, and then make final decisions on the ones I've been interested in, often comparing notes with our assistant editors before a final decision is made.

A: I read all submissions. I stop if I see that they are gravely ill suited to our expectations. If I like them, I keep going.

James Bloom, Co-editor of Memoirist, 28 April 2022

A: We are all busy healthcare providers and we usually devote one to three hours per day in reviewing submissions. We read each piece carefully at least several times and consult with members of our review committee to see if we have thoroughly vetted the piece or if we had missed some important angle. We then review again. We have committee meetings approximately once every three weeks at which time we review each piece again in a group. We sometimes read the poems or selections of the fiction or nonfiction allowed in group format so that we have the full impact of the story. We sometimes also contact the author if there are portions of the story that we do not understand. We we also spend time doing copyediting and proofreading but we do not change the story in any major way.

A: The more important question as an unpaid editor is when does that day start! There’s a job that pays the bills and family commitments which have to come first, so it’s about finding a useful amount of time and energy on a regular basis in order to keep the journal moving forward.
That’s tough sometimes, but it’s been a great experience to date – especially encountering so many incredibly talented writers – and, speaking selfishly, one which I think has also benefitted my own writing.

A: We have a spreadsheet and go story by story, reading and sending out feedback as we finish each story. It's about as monotonous as you imagine.

A: Customer service is a big part of being an editor. Once a piece is accepted, we help writers get ready for publication. If a piece is rejected, we make sure that's a kind and professional response.

A: Despite accepting rolling submissions, we tend to get get most of our submissions two or three months before people know we publish (which is twice a year). So things really heat up around those times. The editorial board meets once or twice a week. In those meetings we will look over submissions and pair them up with reviewers based on content area or methodology and get those all sent out. We then move on to any non-peer review submissions we get. We usually read them all first just to make sure that they fit with our journal content wise. For example, we occasionally get a submission from K12, which is not within the scope of our journal. We only do postsecondary. Then we usually sit on the non-peer reviewed articles for a week or so. We like to read through them a number of times, come up with edits and concerns, and then reach out to have a Zoom meeting with the author(s). We do a lot of author meetings, so it takes a bit of work to schedule those between our busy schedule and the busy schedules of our authors. Of course behind all of this work we are also getting interviews lined up for our J-CASP Conversations section, working on the new layout, contacting advertisers, etc. Once submissions start to come in everything really heats up quickly.

A: A lot of travel is involved so some work has first been read in Sao Paolo, then read again in London and finally accepted upon arrival in the Mojave of Joshua Tree. Places lend subtle perspectives to a piece and give the editor a sense of the breadth of the subtext...or lack thereof.

A: As an editor who also runs a quarterly international poetry journal (iambapoet.com), raises a family, and works full time, there's never a typical day. Most submissions to After... are generally read and appraised during spare time between other professional or domestic tasks, or in the evenings.

A: I check email three times a week. Some poets get an answer within hours, while others must wait a few days.