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 1,700 editors.

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

A: Writing is assigned randomly to one of several readers. Reads are done earlier in the day-fresh eyes. It’s assigned a reject, maybe, or accept (or conditional accept) status.

William Gensburger, Editor and Publisher of Books 'N Pieces, 19 September 2019

A: I personally read all submissions and decide yea or nay, and then edit the yeas as I am reading them, if needed. I will never add words to a piece; just delete what doesn't belong. If words need to be added, I will ask the writer for clarification or addition.

A: Piles of printed submissions. Endless emails. Reading and reading and reading. Formatting and fiddling. Edits and suggestions. Wake up and do it all again.

A: I'll say my submitters are good and proficient writers/artists, so taking a decision to publish 2 or 3 out of 5 poems many a time is a challenge. So, taking the final decision to select submitted works can be challenging.

A: My day begins with a mug of tea, although when things are much busier and sleep is less sound, that tea becomes a mug of coffee. Or three. Then the emailing begins! That normally leads me up to lunch, which I usually take at my desk – and yes, I know, that is not the healthiest thing in the world – and then I start reading. I will take emails/phone calls as they come, which will normally draw me away for some time, but I always try to come back when I can. If I don't get a chance to revisit the manuscript that day, I take it with me on the train home. I form notes in my mind as I read, and try to write them down when I can (although a crowded tube makes this somewhat difficult), so that if we take the book forward, I already have ideas about how we can shape it in the editorial process.

A: It's rewarding. There are no complaints. I look forward to reading submissions, and consider it an honor that artists trust me with their material. Before I sit down I clear my head, shake off the day, and open each submission with a clear pair of eyes. It's humbling to read phenomenal work every day. It's a privilege to get solid writing out on today's literary scene.

A: Lots of coffee. Lots of head-scratching. We have an editor who filters the submissions, but we share the load of reviewing the books; so we generally find the right time in between other projects to sit down and look at a book. We try to put ourselves in the mind of a reader who has just bought the book and consider what their experience would be.

A: People send us a bunch of stories.
I print them out and read through a stack of them.
They are sorted into Yes, No, and Maybe.
Nos are pitched (nothing personal, I just can't have that much paper lying around), Maybes are prioritize and culled, and Yeses and the best Maybes are arranged into potential issues.

A: There are generally open calls for submission during a reading season but we accept works all the time. Our managing editor coordinates with our editor-in-chief in completing first reads. If the submission is viable, it goes to one or two outside readers for feedback. There is the custom back-and-forth with the author and then the submission is published.

A: "Wake up/fall out of bed/drag a comb/across my head..." No, seriously, let me think. After I drop my daughter off at the bus at 6 a.m., I read something that is not a submission. Today it was Virgil's Eclogues, the fourth Eclogue, which is too beautiful! Then I begin the considerable correspondence that constitutes the life of a writer and an editor. Much of it involves sending out my own work, writing blurbs for books, responding to inquiries about submissions to Interim and The Test Site Poetry Series, our poetry book series which are published by the University of Nevada Press. I try to meet with the staff and other editors at least once a week, though It's sometimes too much, as all of us are either teaching or going to school.

A: It starts with a whole lot of reading. Then there's the shuffling and aligning of the book's content, creating that flow. Then comes the legal process of getting the rights to publish what we know will work for the book. Rejections are a constant; work that's not on theme can be easily discarded - though I have to say that there have been stories and poems over the years that are so good, we just ask if we can hold them over 'til the next issue.

A: As editor, I'm responsible for overseeing every aspect of the book publication process, so the range of my work on any given day can span from reading submissions, to negotiating contracts, to making editorial comments on accepted manuscripts, to accounting, to mailing out review copies and book orders, to working with our designer on layout and book design... There's never enough time!