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 1,750 editors.

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

A: Editorial guidance depends on the final submission. Sometimes a submission requires a lot of editing to make it work as a piece of writing; sometimes almost none.
The editing process is intended to aid each author to make their work have the clarity and impact they would wish it to have.
Every final submission is copy edited and proofread, references are checked, and permissions for any images or other copyright material are cleared.
The author always has the final say, and is responsible for signing off the proofs. It is essential for authors to read proofs thoroughly: only the author knows what should be printed.

A: we generally provide substantive editing on every level and yes the author gets to approve the final edits.

A: I accept the piece as is. If I like it, I won't make or even suggest any changes. If it's full of mistakes, on the other hand, I may ask the writer to fix it, or I may simply reject it. A preponderance of errors indicates a lack of care.

A: All accepted works are edited by a trained and certified in-house editor who works with the author on content, line editing and word choice in that general order. Once the manuscript is fully edited, the work is laid up and "polished" in rounds to remove any remaining awkward phrases, misspellings, or other errors of omission or commission. Finally, fully polished, the work is sent to a trained and certified in-house proofreader for a final check before release. The author must approve all edits and is encouraged to suggest further edits. The author must approve the final galley proof before release.

A: We work with the authors of accepted manuscripts to finalize and tighten their books into the best versions they can be--we expect manuscripts to be complete and proofread and whole upon submission, but we make (minor) editing suggestions on nearly all the books we accept. It is a collaborative, open process between author and genre editor, and we have not requested substantive changes to an accepted book.

Kristine Langley Mahler, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Split/Lip Press, 07 January 2020

A: i do very little. I check for consistency, proper word usage...basic proofreading. If there is substantive editing I will probably go back to the writer and have them do it or just reject it. I've only done that once.
Author always gets approval on final but...I hold the right to reject post acceptance if an agreement cannot be reached. But, again, I am a strong believer in the words as they come. Meaning that if the words come out incorrect they are probably correct for the poem, specifically in the moment it is written. As a writer myself I almost never edit a poem. Either it works, or I delete and start over.

A: We absolutely provide careful proofreading before publication; honoring the writer's intent is important to us. We also occasionally offer edits, suggestions, or requests for changes -- but not without a thoughtful discussion among the editors at the table read. We are always willing to work with our contributors to make sure that what we publish is true to their artistic vision and beautifully presented.

Jan Bottiglieri, Managing Editor of RHINO Poetry, 06 January 2020

A: This depends on how edited/revised the piece was once we received it. Some pieces undergo large and noticeable edits while others undergo absolutely no edits at all. We do not provide substantive line editing and mostly focus on basic proofreading, again depending on the quality of the submitted piece itself.

A: Authors get to approve final edits. But as the publisher, I also get to not publish it until it reads the way I want it to read. So an author doesn't have to accept my editorial suggestions, but then I don't have to publish it either. So it's a stalemate until someone (like the author) bends. If the work is very rough, I won't take it as it will need too many edits and that's too time consuming. But if I think that it has potential, I'll line edit it carefully. All our books are carefully copyedited and proofread before publication.

Katie Isbester, Editor-in-Chief of Claret Press, 06 January 2020

A: One of the fantastic things about being deluged by stories is that, by the time I have chosen what to publish, the quality is very high. It is unlikely that a story accepted by Amazing Stories will require substantial plot or character changes. Once in a while, it happens, but not often. So, the editing for the magazine usually consists of line editing and copy editing.
My feeling is that the relationship between the author and the editor should be a kind of dance. We both have the same goal: to make the story as good as it can be. We just need to negotiate what that is. I will impose some changes on a story (to make it conform to the magazine's house style, for instance, which, in some ways, is not industry standard). However, when it comes to style or phrasing, I generally make suggestions to the author, which they can then accept or reject. Then, it is back and forth until we are both satisfied. In most substantial ways, the author has a final approval.

A: We don't edit much. We may have follow-up questions or suggestions but that's only if we're okay with publishing the piece as is. We give the writer the opportunity to accept what we're saying or not. If it's too confusing for us or too many typos or edits, we pass. We're volunteer-based with full-time jobs so, unfortunately, we don't have as much as we would like to work with writers in that way.

A: Preferably not at all, but the size of our prose and poetry demands perfect grammar, spelling, and syntax. Mistakes are more glaring; errors more apparent. Naturally, we send any edits back to the author for approval, and they submit their edits back to us, until we form some compact as to the final form of the piece.