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 1,850 editors.

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

A: We don't edit the poems. If there are any minor changes we propose (it has only happened once so far), the author of the poem has to approve them. The same goes for the art we choose to accompany the poem - the final visual is approved by the author of the poem who has to be 100% satisfied with the result.

A: Usually, not a great deal. We have too many submissions for that to be feasible. However, occasionally we offer editorial suggestions to writers regarding work that is very promising.

A: We work with authors to refine their manuscripts and encourage them to find someone they trust who can be a fresh pair of eyes to proofread. We make editorial suggestions. We don't make edicts. Authors always have the final say.

A: It depends on the piece. Most of what we receive is in good order and requires little to no developmental editing. We've been very lucky.

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

A: We try to remain hands-off, but we will edit for grammar, spelling, and syntax errors.

A: It depends. Usually not much. I primarily accept work that is publication ready. There are instances when I'll suggest a few minor changes to improve the work. I don't request poem overhauls.

A: On rare occasions, we'll reach out to a submitter with a conditional acceptance where we ask if we can make a few changes and then include it in the magazine. But this is very rare, and most likely we'll either take a piece as it is or send it back.

A: I covered this above, but let me state it here: I will never edit an author's work without first getting permission.
Having said that, I will regard any part of the poetic process as fair game for improvement. I will suggest changes to lines or stanzas, I will suggest the deletion of whole sections of a poem. I will fuss over whether a comma should be added or removed or replaced by a semi-colon. I will identify a weak word, a cliched phrase, an unclear image.
I may make acceptance of a poem contingent on certain changes, and if the author and I cannot come to terms, I will reject the poem. However, in other instances, I may make suggestions but still be willing to take the poem as it was originally sent to me.

A: It really depends on the piece, but we prefer as little editing as possible—we really look for pieces that are just about perfect. Each piece gets copy edited and proofed a few times. We reserve the right to correct typos, punctuation, and Chicago style without consulting the writer, but if a sentence, word, or paragraph needs changing or adjustment, then we work with them so that both parties are happy—and in that case, yes, the writer gets final approval.

A: Before publication, the papers are read by their authors, the editorial staff, and the editor-in-chief. At that point, changes are mainly for spelling, grammar, or house style.

A: We provide substantial editing on every piece we accept. We view this as a collaborative writing process. The author, of course, can accept or reject additions, but we ask you to make your case to us--show us why what you're doing is the best move. We want to come to consensus between you and your editor, and we won't publish anything without your consent.

Liz Charlotte Grant, Contributing Editor of The Curator, 09 November 2020

A: Needless to say, this varies. But with any given submission there is certainly the possibility that we will propose substantive, developmental editing if we believe that is in the book's best interest. This particular "mom and pop" have nearly 80 years of editorial experience combined, which is why a lot of authors come to us. There is always give and take between author and editor. In the end, we arrive where we need to be.

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