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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.
Here is a small sampling from our recent Editor Interviews. We have interviewed over 1,550 editors.
Q: How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication?
A: A lot. Obviously I expect a manuscript to be in working order, but we go through several rounds of editing to ensure that all errors and inconsistencies are handled. There are time when I will choose a manuscript that needs a major overhaul -- it's worth it if the story is there.
A: Depends on the author. Some need a lot of editing, most don't. Peer review helps me deal with people who are clearly going to need a lot of help, e.g. those whose mother tongue is not English, or those whose arguments need clarifying and/ or expanding. I do copy editing and basic proofreading for everyone, and substantive editing for some, which may include adding references if theirs are incomplete. I discuss any suggested changes with the authors, and always ask their approval for amendments. If they refuse (as a few do), that's OK, it's their work not mine. I do correct factual mistakes, but otherwise I don't change anyone's work, even if disagree with an author's interpretation. I don't think it's an editor's business to contest what they write, so long as it's well argued. (In one case, I did add a dissenting end-note, but I ran that past the author too. ) I always send each author the formatted version of their article for approval when I'm doing the final edits.
A: We query every poem with each author, but we don't try to make substantive changes to work we accept. We want work that's sure of itself and where it is in the process. Do we sometimes find a few quirks/things that don't seem to mesh with our house style? Yeah, sure. But we're not going to ask our contributors to re-lineate their work or rewrite a stanza or take another photo from a different angle or use a different color scheme.
A: We tend to take only pieces that are 100% ready for publication, but if there are some minor fixes that need to be made we will suggest those to the author. Authors always approve any edits before final publication.
A: Ideally, no editing at all; our comments are intended to permit authors to edit their own material.
A: I do line editing and copy editing on every piece. I don't usually do substantive editing; the pieces I accept often don't need it. The author does get to approve the final edits. I wouldn't want to make a change that alters the author's intentions.
A: Firstly I wouldn't accept a piece if it wasn't achieving a certain level of competence. The onus is on the writer to edit and proofread. If I'm not warming to a piece a typo can make me hit the dreaded R button on my kindle.
However I do proofread a lot now. I also switch words around a little bit if they're not sounding right in my head as I'm reading through. Obvious errors are corrected. Sometimes I can top and tail a piece and these are the areas most likely to need substantive deleting I find, but this is rare. Most of the time I won't send it back to the writer as I don't consider it a substantial edit. If I were to rewrite a piece or change it hugely I would.
A: As little as possible. Authors are nearly always consulted before publication if we intend to make any major changes.
A: A little. Yes, the author gets final approval.
A: The author always gets to see the final edit. Nonfiction pieces go through most amount of editing because we value ideas even when they are not in a publishable state.
A: I rarely engage in copy-editing because if I have accepted the piece then I have accepted what it is. What I do do is proof-read, and spell-check. Minor edits won't be referred back to the author (e.g. for a spelling correction) but anything else will be. Occasionally, I will ask for something more from the author - I won't make the change for them, but sometimes for example we get a submission that is one of several the author has written set in their own universe, and it is not clear enough in the particular one submitted to us what is going on, or at least would not be clear to the reader, so in that case I will request the author change or add in a little background information.
A: We often provide substantive editing; our view is that we meet each piece where it stands, so sometimes that's a heavier editing hand and sometimes its not much more than simple copy editing. Authors always get to approve edits prior to publication. When we stumble across a piece that shows tremendous potential or ingenuity but is not ready for publication, we often encourage such writers with specific feedback and ask for revision and re-submission.