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 1,650 editors.

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

A: We will edit for grammar and spelling, and sometimes some light fact-checking, but we expect submissions to be a polished product. Yes, we send the author a copy of any editing we do.

A: All full-length manuscripts go through an editorial process looking at both micro (line edits, grammar, formatting) and macro (ordering, inclusion of specific poems, etc) elements of the collection.

A: We don't really have much time for many edits. If we receive the submission early enough we may request some edits, but nothing too major, and we'll ask the author to make the changes. We will do minor line editing and proofreading before the final print, and the author can approve of final edits.

A: I do not accept work that requires huge amounts of editing. I will accept work that is clearly from a writer who is not "refined" by certain literary standards, but whose work is sincere, authentic, and moving. Even then, the line edits are minor... I prefer to be faithful to the writer's original voice and ideas and let some "rough edges" go along for the ride. I do think that some work I read these days is so overly edited and "polished" that it seizes to breathe and loses its appeal as an organic creative effort.

Tamara Sellman RPSGT CCSH, Editor, curator, producer of Vitamin ZZZ, 16 March 2019

A: There’re are certain formats that are impossible to keep online, and only that is where we (must) make some changes. Else, it’s the writer’s cut; and they, obviously, get to approve the final edits every time.

A: Very little editing if at all.

A: I am a light touch as an editor, but I will do more- if the writer agrees in advance. Once or twice, a writer has had such a good idea, and has presented it so well, that I will invest the time to suggest substantive revisions.
For example, we had one piece in which the narrator shifted in the middle, without warning. It was an artistic choice that just did not work in a short piece. I suggested two or three ways to help the reader follow the writer’s intent, and the writer came up with a totally different, but even better method.
We send out galleys prior to publication, and writers may withdraw their piece if they want. That hasn't happened yet, but it might at some point. That is the nature of the task. The only really negative comment I have received on a galley was that the writer did not like the artwork. Not a problem. We moved it.

A: The deepest possible edits, and many of them, are done for each work, whether it be one story, a collection, or a novel. Poetry is generally left alone since strangeness is the nature of the beast in that arena. The author approves the final edits only when they are substantial. Minor edits are done without approval.

A: It truly varies. Sometimes we edit very little, and sometimes we'll cut whole sections of a story. It depends on whether we feel strongly enough about that piece of writing to commit to the extra work of intensely editing.

A: I do some minimalist proofreading while I format an issue. By that point, it's too late for the writer to review any edits I make. So, all writers should proofread and edit their work prior to submitting it, with the assumption that it is likely to be printed nearly as-is. Occasionally, I ask my editing interns to help me edit PLJ, and they might make heavier edits, and these also would not have sufficient time to return to the writer for a double-check. PLJ and CCR are released on a tight tri-annual schedule, so that when content is ready, it's time to release it: there is no time for an added check from the 20-50 writers involved in each issue (who have different schedules, and might need a month or more to double-check the work).

A: We always do a round of copy editing and proofreading, and usually offer writers a few suggestions for line editing or more substantive editing. This helps us keep an open mind when reading through our submissions. If we're really excited about a piece, but it's not completely polished, we can work with that. All final edits are approved by writers, and it is ultimately up to them whether or not they want to accept our suggestions. - Myriam

Ariel Chu, Rainie Oet, Myriam Lacroix, Ally Young, Editor in Chief of Salt Hill, 27 February 2019

A: Almost all stories receive substantive edits. Some pieces require very little, but many go three or more rounds of extensive developmental, line, and copyedits. We certainly agree on a final draft with the author.

Katelyn Keating, editor in chief of CRAFT, 24 February 2019