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Read all the editors' answers to Duotrope's interview question: Describe the ideal submission. Learn more.
Here is a small sampling from our recent Editor Interviews. We have interviewed over 1,650 editors.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: Our ideal submission is one which follows our guidelines to the letter, tells a compelling story and evokes an emotional response from our editors. Sounds easy, but it isn't.
A: We were talking about submissions a couple of nights ago, and I remember thinking about a piece, "The writing is good, but a bomb doesn't go off." I think there needs to be a reaction, something big that makes us have a response--the bigger the better. Whether that be in laughter, fear, exhilaration, or sorrow. The ideal submission grabs us with some sort of intrigue, and keeps us there, teetering on the edge, and then also explosions. Due to the theme of our journal, it should also involve living somewhere else, or anything connected to this.
A: A manuscript that follows all the guidelines, obviously.
Writing that reveals vulnerability, courage, generosity, honesty, a sense of humor, a fresh perspective.
A: One that comes in with a little cover letter mentioning the titles of pieces submitted, and a 40-50 word bio. Nothing else! (well, except for the ‘.doc’ file)
A: Something that interesting to read all the way through and educational as well.
A: One that follows our guidelines, is carefully proofread, and shares a quirky outlook or deeply felt belief. We don’t publish porn or children’s work, but we are very open to the unusual as well as the conventional.
A: The ideal submission opens by greeting the editor. It then describes the book project and gives a one-paragraph synopsis. Attachments can give more detail of the project. It is always evident when the writer has not studied the guidelines and what is required for a book proposal. Be friendly, open, expectant, and vibrant.
A: One that follows our guidelines. Mostly I care that the piece has not published anywhere else and it's been edited and proofread. The other things—like font size and spacing, etc—I'm that picky about. We understand the admin work it takes submitting to publications (we're all doing it, too), so we have empathy. We'll never reject a piece because it isn't written in Times New Roman.
A: Something singular that believes in itself wholeheartedly. Writing as beautiful and idiosyncratic and real as you are! We're particularly interested in reading things from people of color, women, queer people, non-binary folks. We'd also love to see more (in no order) translations, collaborations, hybrid or mixed-media works, plays. - Rainie
A: A story that opens in scene and grounds us in time and place by the time we turn the first page. Characters who stick with us long past the first read. Dialogue that develops character. Plot. That emotional something that makes us want to go right back to the beginning and read the story again.
A: A story that makes me laugh out loud, start to tear up or cringe in a good way. The perfect hat trick is nailing all three in one story.
A: Original, lucid, precise and far-reaching - a pleasure to read and hard to forget.