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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.
Here is a small sampling from our recent Editor Interviews. We have interviewed over 1,600 editors.
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: Please use page breaks between pieces.
A: Our issues are free to read digitally. Read our archived issues to grasp an understanding of the general style of writing we prefer. We read every submission, but we value works that connect to the human senses and emotions.
A: Take a look at what we've published previously; it's all available for free. Proofread your submission for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and typos.
A: Write about something about which you are passionate, and write from the heart. That's really cheesy, I know, but at the end of the day that's really what we're looking for. Does this person have something to say, and can they say it in an eloquent way? We hope that the answer to this question is 'yes' if someone really cares about what they're writing. Same goes for visual art. We really do look at the "short description" section for visual art and hope people will use it to describe briefly what the art means to them.
A: No advice, really, because I just hope the writers who submit are doing what they do, the best they know how to do it. But I will say, please don't make more than one submission at a time. And please be patient. Our response times are slow. I wish they weren't but they are. At various points in the year our staff dwindles to one or two people. Trust me, we hate that it takes so long to respond, and we miss out on a lot of great work that gets snapped up by other magazines before we are able to review it. But it is tremendously exciting to uncover a story or poem that has waited so patiently in our (virtual) stack of submissions.
A: Follow our guidelines and send us your final drafts. Too often we find careless errors in otherwise interesting manuscripts.
Since approximately 40% of our content is solicited, only the most unique among the open submissions are offered an opportunity to edit for acceptance.
A: The very best advice I can give to people who would like to submit to Blair--or to any press, for that matter--is to read some of the books we have recently published. I'm always amazed when I make this suggestion and people who say they are writers tell me they "don't have time to read." If you don't have the time or inclination to read our books, then you will never really know whether or not we are a good fit for your work.
A: Read the magazine, and definitely check out our podcast, where we speak frankly about why we chose certain pieces and why others didn't make the cut. Make sure you're telling a story, and not just expanding on a thesis or giving us impressions. Think about surprising us and defying stereotypes or clichés.
A: Read the issue to get a feel for the poetry we publish. But also, we are open to all kinds of poetry and give thoughtful consideration to every poem we receive in our submissions pile.
A: Be original: I only care about your dead mother if you can give me a reason to care.
Be patient: We get a lot of submissions. If you don't receive a response in three weeks, don't send me angry emails inquiring on the status of your submission. Wait at least three months.
FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES.
A: Vonnegut's Eight Rules for Writing
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them – in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
A: If you think you have a story, write it down. But then take a deep breath and dig even deeper. Do more research. Think about it for a few days then come back to it. Sometimes the story you imagine isn’t as amazing as the story you stumble upon by accident. And please use serial commas.