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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 1,725 editors.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: We do not require a cover letter, but a hello and brief explanation of what you are sending us is nice. First impressions do matter, even if we strive to read each work only on its merit. Ideal? Say hello, follow the submission guidelines, mention the title(s) of the work submitted, and include a brief author bio. We love to hear about your previous and current projects as well as interesting facts about your writing journey, but do not expect it.
A: An ideal submission includes a brief greeting, a little about the writer, and a poem as a Word/PDF attachment. We like poems that challenge our sensibilities, but not ones that espouse bigotry.
A: It adheres tightly to the guidelines we have. It has a cover letter and author profile with any credentials and curriculum attached
A: Jelly Bucket accepts fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry of all genres. As long as your piece is competently written, we would love to receive it! We do not publish works that are gratuitously violent, vulgar, or sexual--so most pieces we publish could be described similarly to a PG-13 film rating, though this does not mean we would not ever publish a piece akin to being rated R. If you think your piece may be a good fit, but are unsure, go ahead and submit!
A: The ideal submission is a compelling story from the first word to the last.
A: (This is a very limiting question, so I prefer not to answer it.)
A: Besides proper manuscript formatting. . . An opening sentence that carries me into an opening paragraph and intrigues and creates a sense of mystery and wonder and in the right amount, bafflement. Make me forget that I am reading a submission and cause me to open up submittable to read your work again and again. If I keep coming back to it, thinking about it, sharing it with my editors. . . That is a great submission. Something that makes me (want to) publish early just to see it in print.
A: I'm not sure there is an "ideal" submission. If there was a blueprint for writing none of us would be doing this. What we love is writing that leaves us breathless by the end. We often talk about the "gut punch" effect. We want to feel like you just smashed us in the stomach. How you deliver that blow is entirely up to you. It's different every time.
A: It will be between 50 and 3000 words long. It will have the title at the top, the by-line underneath and the suggested drink under that, all centered. The text will be single-spaced with paragraphs indented. It will contain a third-person bio, not more than fifty words long and a link to a blog or web site. The story will be well structured and have a believable and satisfying ending.
A: The ideal submission follows any guidelines that have been set and it is the best representation of work. It is a compelling piece of work for a mass audience and it is appropriate for the publication.
I have seen so many great submissions, but I will let any writer or visual artist know that it is never an easy job for editors to choose any work. Writing and visual art are both subjective and precious pieces of art. Much discussion and time are spent on making final decisions, and one thing is always the culprit - space.
A: The writing is so full of tension, so polished, and so obviously related to the theme that we can't help but take it. On the whole, short bios are better. (We always love the humorous ones.) The writer or artist includes a concise cover letter, and in it, he or she states that they've read at least one previous issue.
A: Our ideal submission:
Strong core characters, (which means a strong dramatic centre with cleverly defined wants and fears to contextualise their motivations).
A keen eye for written style, and an ability to place it so as to wrap up and sharpen that drama as the story demands.
Between 1000 and 2500 words for a one-shot story or able to fit into a serial arc of between 6000 and 10000 words total.