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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 1,675 editors.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: I love a story that creates an entire world in 5000 words. One that is original and smart, and doesn't follow the usual tropes we see in genre fiction. I'm more interested in tickling or massaging the reader's brain than trying to out-shock or out-smart them. If it's horror, I want the scares to be based in real fear and terror. If it's sci-fi or fantasy, I want an interesting world that I can believe in. If it's mystery or crime, I want to feel what the detective/policeperson/person solving the problem feels. I want the author to draw me in in the first few sentences and keep me riveted to the page.
A: As a well-structured document. With a brief third person biography. A profile picture, if available. And, a brief synopsis of the work in case of fiction.
A: Each work we publish is unique. So guidelines matter. The ideal submission will adhere to the guidelines for that particular call and have been proofread and edited before submission. We see far too many sloppy submissions.
A: A unique, well-crafted work is always going to get our attention. For creative non-fiction or biography, we will research your topic and not just take your word for it, so while attention to craft is important, accuracy is also. Fiction should be well-developed, with interesting characters. We don't mind a slow build. We're looking for an ending that is satisfying or thought-provoking; this is more important than a snappy, attention-grabbing first line.
A: 4-6 sharp and focused poems with a brief bio.
A: The ideal submission can't be pre-determined, because the ideal work is something we've never seen before, something that expands our understanding of what art, literature, or commentary can be.
A: It would look basically like any of the stories we've published.
A: The ideal submission would be a well thought-out and/or well researched article is sort of a given. But there's one more thing . I've been reading tarot since the 1980s and started on my spiritual path in the early 1990s. I've read a lot of books, studied with different people and experienced some very weird and wonderful things. So if your article can teach me something, or make me think about your topic, even if it has some grammatical errors or spelling mistakes, I'll be sending an acceptance letter.
A: The ideal submission is something that's deeply felt, emotionally honest, and unforgettable. Factual truth is secondary to emotional truth. Same goes for considerations of genre, style, etc. Tell me a story that makes me forget I'm reading a story and I won't care what genre it is or style it's written in!
A: There is no one ideal submission. We have a variety of literary awards - for poetry, for historical fiction, for speculative fiction, for short fiction, for theatrical scripts, for non-fiction. In each category we look for interesting subject matter, a unique voice, and high quality writing.
A: The ideal submission will hook me by the first half of the first page. By the end of the second page, there will be some quality to it that has my Spidey sense tingling - and I usually know that I'm going to accept a piece by the bottom of the fourth page and I'm usually just reading from that point forward to enjoy the piece and also, make sure that my intuition is sound. So the ideal piece starts where it needs to start -- a big problem I have seen with submissions is that the author spends a lot of the first three or four pages trying to set the scene and by the time it gets good, I'm already leaning toward not accepting it, so it takes a powerful story to pull me out of that mindset. Secondly, just because Witness has a top end word count of 8000 words doesn't mean we're looking for super long pieces -- some 8000 word stories probably need to be 3800 word stories.