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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 1,550 editors.

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

A: When I receive a submission, I look over the query letter first. I see if the author followed our submission guidelines and evaluate the author's writing ability in the query. If the query looks good, I move onto the synopsis. While the synopsis is valuable to me to get a snapshot of the book, I don't judge it too harshly because they are very hard to write and write well. Mostly I look for quality sentence structure and if the story is interesting. Finally, I review the chapters submitted with the book. During this process, I am looking for quality of writing. Does the author use too many adjectives and adverbs? Do they use passive voice? Is their grammar, punctuation, and syntax good? Are their characters interesting? If the answer to those questions is the one I'm looking for, then we move on to requesting the full manuscript and review that to make sure the writing is solid throughout.

A: Every morning, I wake up, eat breakfast, take a shower, and read a few submissions. If any are exceptional, I'll read them a few more times later in the day (or the next day, after I've let the stories gestate). If I've had to sit on a story for more than a day, it gets a "kind rejection," which is more or less an encouragement to submit more work and a notification for the writer that they made it through round one. Submission fatigue is very real, so I never read more than five submissions per day--usually less.

A: I'm not active in the judging of this contest, so the best way to get a feel for the process is to read our interview with the judge and their comments on past years' winners.

A: I'm not active in the judging of this contest, so the best way to get a feel for the process is to read our interview with the judge and their comments on past years' winners.

A: As editor-in-chief and publisher, I do rely on my panels to do the initial heavy-lifting of reading and choosing the pieces for FLAR. I am a full-time educator and I am a partner in a yearly book festival, so my panels become invaluable in the selection process and allow me to accomplish all three objectives. Once they have decided on the contributions we will use, I make the final decisions for placement, layout, design, and the general flow of the magazine. I do all the interviews with local artists and writers that are published in FLAR. My favorite part of compiling the anthology every six months is collaborating with the panels, meeting new people through the interviews, and designing the layout.

A: Submittable makes the reading process streamlined and easy, so when we have time -- which has to be carved out from the full-time professional and family commitments that occupy the non-VASTARIEN portions of our lives -- each of us individually cues up one or more submitted works and carefully enters into them, deliberately giving them a full opportunity to capture us and demand that we publish them. This may take place at any time of the day or night. We have vigorous conversations with each other by leaving comments on each piece in the Submittable system. Each editor also enters a vote -- yes or no -- for each submission. In the case of disagreements, each editor makes a case for his or her decision. Once we have achieved a consensus, whether by unanimous initial vote or through conversation and persuasion, we notify the submitter and then continue the process for the remaining items in the pile.

Jon Padgett and Matt Cardin, Editors-in-Chief of Vastarien, 08 March 2018

A: Holy Communion first thing in the morning, followed by breakfast and coffee and time spent with my lovely wife Ember. Once she is off to work, I begin editing the works of others, or writing my own stories or novels. I also watch loads of films, and read a lot as well as photograph my own book covers. Long walks are also a part of my day, as well as typical household duties such as cleaning, laundry, shopping, cooking, and afternoon naps.

A: Coffee. Words. Words. Words. Coffee. More words. More coffee. Yeah, that.

A: When I receive a query letter from a student, I first consider whether it is well-written: Is it compelling? Has the writer attended to basic details such as grammar and spelling? Are their ideas cohesive? I then consider their proposed topic to see whether it fits with our publication in general: Is this the type of thing we've featured before? Is it something that our audience is likely to find interesting? I look at our upcoming themes to determine if it is a match for any of them. Because we also publish occasional non-focus articles, a topic that doesn't fit neatly within one our themes isn't disqualified, however. If a query meets the above criteria, I will share it with the editorial staff during our issue-planning meetings, where we will determine if it fits well with other content we have planned for a particular issue. If a query is particularly strong but won't work in one issue, we may save it for consideration in a future issue.

A: Deliberation is built into our editorial process. If a story is strong, I ask for arguments against it. If a story gets mixed reviews, I ask for someone to argue for it. In addition to our genre editors, we also have editorial interns. A top-50 story my receive nine diverse readings before the editors sit down to select the half-dozen we'll run. These many-voiced deliberations make for better stories and provide some insurance against accepting a story that emerges as a ball of technical problems when we get to the line-by-line editing part of the process.

A: We read and correspond with other writers, as well as with one another. We also make certain the website is up to speed, check how our pieces are doing on social media, and reply to writers’ submissions and queries. We are currently working to establish The Sunlight Press as a nonprofit and therefore, we are doing the research to secure this status and actively looking at ways to fundraise. Publishing several types of work means exploring how to illustrate pieces; this means looking at photos available online, those submitted by photographers for publication, and those offered by our several volunteer photographers. We talk every Thursday by phone to go over management of the site, submissions, and scheduling pieces for publication. Additionally, we work throughout the week editing work for publication and pairing it with suitable art.

We regularly communicate via email with our writers and artists, answering their questions and occasionally seeking revisions to their work.

Beth Burrell & Rudri Bhatt Patel, Co-Founder/Co-Editors of The Sunlight Press, 26 February 2018

A: Editing is usually squeezed in-between school and a full-time job. I sit with my laptop and open the emails and go through the submissions. I log them in my Excel tracker for the submission number and author/artist's name. Once the submission has a number, I open it (and remove identifying information if the submitter didn't remove the information.) Then I read. I record in my Excel file if the work is accepted or rejected. I email the writer/artist with an acceptance letter/contract of publication or a rejection letter. I am trying to speed up my process and read them as they come in, instead of in bundles of 20 or so that I've done in the past.