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 1,850 editors.

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

A: Moment Poetry is my side project and it's something I do because I enjoy it. In the limited time that I have I do my best to communicate with the poets and with our artists. I usually work on two poems (in different stages) and try to plan a few months ahead. I read all the submissions as soon as they arrive, confirming each reception. The selection process concerns the poems which end up on our shortlist. I also try to promote the project and spread the word, ideally through meaningful collaborations with other projects we like.

A: Reading. Reading. Reading.

A: Each book is assigned two editors who will read it and make a recommendation. However, all of our editors have access to all submissions, so other editors can, and often will, read the manuscripts and weigh in. In addition to editorial notes, editors recommend advancing books to the next round of review with a Yes, No, or Maybe. Manuscripts that receive two Yeses automatically go to the next level. Those with one Yes and a No or Maybe, are discussed further, as are those with two Maybes. From there, editors revisit the manuscripts, and we make final decisions.

A: I check our Submittable daily for new submissions. I prioritize Quick Response submissions and work my way through submissions received by date. I put pieces into categories (opt to accept, opt to decline, etc.) and do some sorting and makes notes as I read. From there, I make final decisions and notify the authors either way. If I'm unable to make a decision right away, I'll let the authors know so they can decide to wait or move on.

Kristen Simental, Editor-in-Chief of Five South, 16 November 2020

A: I incorporate the process into my day. We all have a great deal on our plates. I fit in reading submissions when I can and, usually, as soon as I can. I give ONE ART high priority on my To Do list.

A: Popping into the forum and reading new, and old submissions, and checking/ answering messages through our internal messenger for members.

A: I get up, get coffee, flop into my recliner, and open my email. I then deal with whatever has come my way. Today I am updating my info with Duotrope; so far, this has taken three hours of my morning, which will be well repaid if it helps you to a better decision regarding submitting your work to Rat's Ass Review.
When I'm accepting submisions, I spend several hours each day reading poems. I open an email, then download the attached .doc or .docx file and open that. I read all of the poems quickly, then go back to any that particularly interested me and re-read them. At this point I usually know whether I want any of the poems or not, and I send out one of a few boilerplate responses, either asking for one or more poems, or thanking the person but declining the poems. Sometimes I will want to include some personal message. Generally this is either because I want to propose a change to a poem that I am asking for or because I want to articulate why I didn't accept something. The latter only happens when I think the poems have merit and I want to acknowledge that and provide my thoughts on how the work could be stronger.
On relatively rare occasions I will sit with a poem for a while because I can't immediately decide whether or not to ask for it. Usually two or three days are enough for me to know which way to go with the poem. And, on some occasions, although I know that I do not want the work, I will wait before sending out a rejection. Those are painful enough without getting one fifteen minutes ater you sent the work.
Toward the end of the submission period I beging to pull together the poems and prepare them for WordPress. I do not have good luck with the Visual Edit part of WordPress, so I need to put the issue into HTML format. My current practice is to create a Word .docx document that is laid out the way I want, then when It is complete, to copy it into the Visual Edit version of WordPress, and then to immediately switch to the HTML version and copy that into a new Word document. I now have an HTML Master of the new issue in a Word document. From this point forward, I make all changes to the HTML Master, then update the HTML in WordPress. During this process the new issue is on the website, but passworded so that it is not visible to the public.
When I think I am ready to publish a new issue, I share the password with the poets and invite them to check their work for any inaccuracies that I have inserted into the issue. Once all of the final tweaks have been made, I remove the password and the new issue is available on the website. I then spend a day or two promoting the issue on various social media outlets.

A: During our open submission periods in January and July, we have readers who screen out the pieces that obviously aren’t for us, or didn’t follow guidelines. Then I read what’s kicked to me for the final decision. If the writing is awesome but the piece isn’t our vibe, I will sometimes write a personal note and tell the writer what I loved about it, but only if I have the time. The rest of the year is spent sending out contracts, editing pieces that might have been purchased for future issues, layout, looking at art from our staff contributing artists (we don’t accept art through open call), writing the upcoming issue’s editor’s note, copy editing (we have someone who does only that), and proofing the final issue. It gets proofed by three people, and I also proof it a couple of times by reading it aloud. That’s usually where I catch most of the errors.

A: An editor's lot may not be an unhappy one, but it is not glamorous either. The editor reads the submitted papers, decides if they should be reviewed, searches for referees (not being too proud to beg, if necessary), nudges referees who are taking too long to complete their assignments, reads the referee reports and decides whether to accept the paper or not (which can be difficult when referees disagree), explains to the authors of rejected papers what the problems were, communicates with the authors about the necessary revisions, sees the accepted papers through the final stages of editing, works with the publishers to get the papers into appropriate style, and proof-reads the final product.

A: We're a mom and pop shop, so many hats are worn each day, but we're proud of that: we are involved in every aspect of publishing and give close personal attention to every book.

Gregory Wolfe, Publisher & Editor of Slant, 05 November 2020

A: Since I teach English at a community college in addition to being an editor, I have to set aside days to read submissions. I'll log in to our submission manager and read for several hours at a time. This really gives me an idea of what the next edition of the journal is going to look and feel like. Very rarely do I have the luxury of just reading a few submissions at a time.

A: Just like writing a story