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 1,675 editors.

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

A: Usually prizes go to books that require minimal or no editing, in terms of style and content, simply because we pick books that we really really like! The books we decide to publish of course go through a process of proofreading and editing prior to publication but we work closely with authors, who always get the last say regarding edits.

A: I don't like to accept stories that aren't already mostly finished. I have worked on books before that publishing companies accepted but knew that the work necessary was going to be extensive, such as complete plot changes, removing unnecessary characters, things like that. I prefer to take something that only needs minor edits, or if a major plot change is needed that it won't take much to do it. I do a complete edit of the book then pass it back to the author. The author and I then discuss what needs to be changed, what they want to keep, what we can do to work on things. I get it back from them and go over it again. I try to do no more than three passes on the story. If it needs more than three, then I don't think it's something we can fix. Once the author and I agree on the entire piece, it goes to a copy editor because there is always a need for another set of eyes on any manuscript. Then it's prepared for print.

A: I expect to only need to do minor editing on a piece. Any more than that and we don't publish. On the rare occasion, when we love the story but the story doesn't quite work or there is too much editing involved, I'll send back a "revise and resubmit" offer to the author. We don't want to see someone's first draft.

A: It depends. For anthologies, we expect a near perfect submission due to our extremely tight turn around times. We do not have the time to interact too much with the authors due to sheer volume. So the editing we expect to do is light; spelling, grammar, etc. However, for a novel, it's a completely different animal. Zimbell House, Temptation Press, and Chipper Press, all do substantive editing, each of our novels go through a four-stage editing process, beginning with developmental edits. We work with our authors during the editing process and the author is heavily involved. At Zimbell House, we partner with our authors to produce the best product possible, so it will sell for generations.

A: Editing encompasses both micro and macro levels. For a submission to be considered for publication, it should more or less be of a certain standard in terms of its literary and artistic merits. I read a work for its clarity and style (imagery, theme, stylistics) while paying attention to line breaks and rhythm (for poetry), before zooming in on the nitty gritty like grammar, spelling and punctuation. I usually highlight certain lines or phrases that need to be honed, and suggest that writers consider editing them themselves first. At times, I offer further suggestions after revisions come back to me, if they still don't quite work. The process is collaborative, and what's important is striking a balance between editorial input and the writer's voice.

A: We do edit accepted work -- the amount and type of editing depends on the piece. I would say about 15% of our pieces get more substantive editing, while most receive only basic line edits, usually to clarify an idea or image. Author's always are notified of suggested edits, and get a final say on the process.

Rebecca Valley, Editor-in-Chief of Drizzle, 04 July 2019

A: We do edit all submissions, sometimes substantively. Our authors do get to see all final copies before publication, but we hold the final decision. We do work with our authors to be sure they are comfortable with the final works.

A: No editing if possible.

Cyril Wong, Founding Editor of SOFTBLOW, 17 June 2019

A: Substantive editing is time-consuming, so it is better to produce camera-ready work. We are willing to do it for rough pieces of remarkable potential, after checking to see if the author is open to it.

A: We do substantive editing. I let my authors make the final call on edits. They're the artist and they should have final say about their work. It's my job to give the author a push in the direction that I think will be positive for the book. If they choose to disagree with me, it's their book not mine.

A: There is rarely much editing -- if I see something that seems like an error, when I reply with the acceptance, I ask if it is all right to edit. After that, the story is in its final form.

A: At minimum, we do basic proofing, and I don't send those to the author for approval. If there are major edits required, I'll mark up the original text and send that back to the author or simply describe what I feel would make the article or story stronger. The author has the final say if they want to pull the piece or make the changes.