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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 1,825 editors.

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

A: We do request edits to submissions, particularly prose, from time to time. Authors always have an opportunity to approve edits.

Philip Memmer, Executive Editor of Stone Canoe, 13 August 2020

A: We trust that writers will send us only their best, completed work, so other than proofreading and formatting, very little editing is done. If a work is in need of significant re-tooling, it's unlikely to be accepted.

J. Edward Kruft, Editor-at-large of trampset, 09 August 2020

A: I do send poets that I intend to publish suggestions for changes. Sometimes they have to be made before I'll publish, other times, I can go either way. If a poet doesn't agree, of course they are free to withdraw their work and submit elsewhere. I do substantive, line, and copy editing as a separate, side business for poets who want to self publish their chapbooks.

A: We edit for typos but generally publish the work as it was submitted. We've learned that sometimes the typos are intentional as well.

A: We look for work that is polished and thoroughly developed. Still, we do work with writers to line edit and provide copy editing and proofreading, but we want work that is for the most part done in our eyes. If edits are suggested by our editors, we do ask for approval from the writer or we ask the writer to make those edits in their own way.

Melissa Wade, Editor-in-chief of phoebe, 07 August 2020

A: That varies. I've published work with no changes at all. I've also published work that looks very different from what was submitted. If I expect that I will want major revisions, I ask the writer if they're interested in that prior to accepting the piece. I think it's fair to share expectations upfront with each writer so we are on the same page.

A: I expect a certain standard, but I will gladly put the time in to help new writers, or writers for whom English is not a native language, to meet this standard. Thus, the amount of editing can vary wildly. I often accept pieces with no changes at all, while some pieces have required extensive revision until both the author and myself were satisfied with the result.

A: Our editing is primarily holistic. We will fact check and edit essays for consistency in citation, however, we expect pieces to come fully polished grammatically. This applies to our creative writing works as well. We many times offer up feedback that we believe may elevate the piece to publishing-readiness, but the author is the final decider of our suggested revisions. These revisions address larger issues like confusion in plot-lines or character underdevelopment. We don't tell the author's what words to use; that's a show of a great writer to be able to accomplish the final goal or impression by using their own words!

A: line editing, deleting stuff, but we don't go through them like crazy with a red marker. One thing I hate is when the stories are written in present tense, it's over it's no longer happening so that should be avoided. Unless you're Anthony Bourdain who nobody is any more.

A: Poems sent for consideration in an anthology should be edited exactly like the poet wants it to appear with their name on it. The editors do not change the poems.
We only change misspelled words or typos. Punctuation and capitalization in poetry is up to the poet. If we have a question about the poem, we email the poet and ask before changing anything. This year one of the poems was titled 'sonnet...' and only had 13 lines. I wrote to the poet and asked if a line had been omitted or the form needed modifying. The poet responded that one of the lines needed to have a line break. Then it had 14 lines. Most edits are simple like that.

A: I edit all pieces to bring them into conformity with our internal editorial style, such as punctuation, spacing after periods, indentation, etc. This occurs more often with prose than poetry, but everything gets a light proofread for spelling, grammar, etc. Authors are sent a tracked-changes file with all edits marked for their approval and discussion. Authors are also sent a private, password-protected link to review the actual layout of their work and check any hyperlinks and the bio. Once the author approves the tracked-changes edit and the link, we schedule for publication and provide a publication date.

Diana Smith Bolton, Founding Editor of District Lit, 26 July 2020

A: We try to do as little editing as possible. If the piece is really good, we might do some proofreading or suggest small changes, always with the approval of the author.