Editor Interviews

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Read all the editors' answers to Duotrope's interview question: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your 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: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?

A: We are looking for poems that are powerful on their own and hard to forget. Technical finesse is not our top priority. Poems that are able to communicate or create an emotion and stay with the reader are the ones we're thrilled to publish.

A: For a Skinny to be a notable work, it must first be a notable poem. The crafting of layers of meaning, informed by figurative language, and the expression of some universal truth about the human condition is key. That is the kind of poetry we have an interest in publishing.

A: Despite how our name may sound, we are not looking for how-to books on foraging or cooking wild foods. We love eco-writing, but not exclusively. We're open to all literary works with an emphasis on literary. We appreciate authors who take risks, are compelled by an inner music and their own ethos, and show consistency and clarity of purpose in their manuscripts.

A: When reading submissions, I look for something unusual. A lot of writers try to imitate other writers, and it rarely works. I believe that originality and faith in what you’re doing is the only real way to succeed. As an editor, I’m looking for the stuff you won’t necessarily find in many other lit mags, and the readers really seem to appreciate that.
I also love a distinctive narrative voice. I don’t care whether the narrator is likeable, unlikeable, an enigma – if you can write in a way that makes me feel invested in the speaker, that’s a big plus.

JL Corbett, Editor of Idle Ink, 17 November 2020

A: We love reading stories that make you cry, teaches you something, and aren't afraid to rumble. We want smart and inclusive work that takes chances and doesn't follow the crowd.

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

A: Well, the usual answer is read work published in the journal. Yes, that, obviously. Also, consider looking at the work I’ve nominated for prizes.

A: Make sure your proofread your submission. Be open to constructive feedback from other artists. Keep in mind, they would not comment if they were not intrigued.
Explore the site content.

A: The best advice I can give is to put thought into the cover letter. It's easy to tell from a cover letter if the submitter is genuinely invested in the mission of our magazine or if they're just copy and pasting as many submissions as they possibly can.

A: First, the selfish advice. Read the damn submission guidelines. Don't send me ten poems; don't send ANY poems when I am not accepting submissions; don't send them in .txt format or in the body of the email; don't send me material that has appeared elsewhere. And so on. Read the guidelines.
Next, the advice that should be obvious but often isn't. Edit your own work before you send it out. Use spellcheck, for God's sake. Think about grammar and punctuation, and have some sort of purpose and consistancy in its use. I don't care if you use no capital letters and don't end sentences with a period. But if you sometimes use caps and sometimes don't, if you have two sentences that end with periods and seventeen that don't, then those had better be deliberate, rational choices which I can decode. If I come to the conclusion that you are just sloppy and lazy, that impression will extend to the content of your work as well.
And finally, the advice for serious poets. Every editor says "Send me your best work" so I won't start with that. Instead I might offer this: send me that poem that deep in your heart you love more than any other but which has been collecting rejections while other work is being accepted. If you are right in your feeling about that poem, and if I am actually a perceptive editor with idiosyncratic but solid values, then maybe I too will see what you see in it. The same goes for that poem which you wrote in a moment of atypical boldness but now are a little abashed by (or perhaps you have sent it out and it was a too strong for some editorial tastes). We at RAR are not easily offended.
And, yes, of course, send your best work as well. Not everything that RAR prints is shocking or vulgar; some is just good, imaginative, thought-provoking poetry. We like that, too.

A: Read a couple of our issues is always the standard answer here, and while we recommend that, sometimes it’s best to just take a stab at it. We like stories and poems that evoke a strong emotional response in our readers, and we love stories that are multi-leveled—it’s got to say something and not just be entertaining.

A: Do your research. One of the major reasons that articles are rejected or require re-writing is that the authors have not included essential secondary sources.
Argue coherently. You may have a great idea, but you must develop the argument so that it is clear to the reader.
Keep within the 10,000-word limit.
Proof-read your work carefully. Too many typos or grammatical errors tend to upset referees.
If you are worried about something in your paper (the topic, an idea that might sound outré, a section that you worry may not be appropriate or completely relevant), ask the editor.

A: Our editors expect to collaborate with writers. If you're writing nonfiction, pitch first. We often ask writers to rewrite pitches if we like the idea or the writing, but the focus isn't quite right for The Curator. We will also go back and forth multiple times during editing, often with more than one editor assigned to a nonfiction piece. We love to publish emerging nonfiction writers! For poetry, the name of the game is persistence. We receive more poetry submissions than nonfiction, so publishing poetry with us is more competitive than nonfiction, and we don't edit poems typically. Oh, and if your piece is accepted, please respond to the emails we send you. ;-)

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