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Editor Interviews

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Read all the editors' answers to Duotrope's interview question: How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication? Learn more.

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Here is a small sampling from our recent Editor Interviews. We have interviewed over 2,050 editors.

Q: How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication?

A: It depends entirely on what the book needs. Some books need considerable developmental editing; some need something more like a strenuous copy edit. But all books go through an edit before publication. The author gets final approval, of course - it's their book, and this is a collaboration.

A: Each manuscript goes through a light copyedit for consistency. We want the collection to look and feel like all the pieces were intended to be together. Each manuscript goes through a second reading with a sensitivity reader (a generalist) who flags any language that could embarrass the writer or the press. Each manuscript goes through a final reading, the stage at which the author will be consulted, to resolve any flags and to check the text for fluidity, consistency, and strength. The author receives a proof with this final form of the manuscript and can request changes, clarifications, revisions, insertions, deletions, etc. If changes are authorized by both the author and executive editor, they are incorporated, and a second proof is sent to the writer for final approval.

A: It depends. Some manuscripts come to me in such a state of polish, that the editing/formatting is neat complete. Others, I have to totally redo.
As far as editing content?
I do not. I may suggest punctuation or spelling changes, but I don't redo the work itself. It's your work, not mine. My work is to highlight your work so as to draw attention to its merit.

A: I publish poets who are skilled, so editing is rare. Occasionally, I will suggest small changes, as when fellow poets ask for comment on a draft. I would never publish a poem without the poet's agreement with any changes.

A: As mentioned previously, we aim to accept pieces we feel are generally publication-ready, as we don't see it as our broad editorial role to heavily reshape the author's work. That said, we occasionally accept work we feel excited about but want to offer more substantive edits on, or suggest a resubmission. We always line edit, copyedit, and proofread, and the author approves final edits and is notified when the piece is posted on our site before it's promoted publicly.

A: We like to keep the authenticity of the writer's style in the piece as much as possible. We edit for grammar, and whatever will make the work better.

A: We do minor edits. We simply do not accept pieces that need major edits. We do not have the time for it.

A: Everyone on our staff is also a writer, so we understand the editing process can be a mixed bag. Most writers are submitting something they consider finished, and they might feel strongly about making subsequent edits. I don’t want to put a writer in the position where we suggest a substantive change that they disagree with, but feel inclined to agree with for the sake of publication. This means we’ve sometimes declined pieces that we really liked but felt needed some larger change.We have a copy editing process to clean up anything grammatical and sometimes for style consistency. We will pose questions or make suggestions on a thematic or narrative level, but we stress to our writers that these are suggestions, and they can take or leave them.I don’t care about the odd typo or grammatical error in the submission pile. These are easy to fix and not necessarily indicative of the work as a whole, though an excessive amount can point to a piece not being ready for submission. We get called Invisible Cities all the time. Again, this is not important to me or our readers if you’ve sent us a banger.

A: It depends on the piece! We usually do some copy editing or basic proofreading, but like I mentioned before, we also usually have some revise and resubmits. For those, that includes a lot more editing, whether that is changing the form of the piece or the ending or the beginning.

A: It really depends on the work. Sometimes I'll send an author's story back to them with very few edits, because they've done such a wonderful job with the piece. But if the work needs it, I'll do structural, line and copy edits, as well as proofreading. I will provide a document showing all edits in track changes, including edits for style. We will never publish a piece that has not been approved by the author—it's imperative that they sign off on the edits before their work is published. We're about helping share your voice, not coopting it for our own gain.

Gemma Peckham, Editor-in-Chief of Oh Reader, 04 September 2022

A: The author always gets to approve final edits - it's a back and forth process. I do not do heavy editing - the poets we publish are not ones who need mentoring. I make suggestions as to clarity, titles, tweaks, etc. proofreading is done professionally if the text is very complex or has a lot of foreign words in it.

A: We do not provide substantive editing. Mostly, we make changes for proofreading. We may suggest a change in a line or two of poetry or prose. We do make changes to follow our style guide. Otherwise, no major changes are suggested due to our timeline. Therefore, we appreciate polished work and authors open to suggestions. If we are suggesting changes, that means the piece is close to being in the final round.