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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 1,925 editors.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: A story or art piece that captures our hearts and has us jumping in our seats to discuss is what we hope to read.
A: for poetry: a packet of five absolute bangers that are so exuberant our editorial staff tears its hair out to decide which pieces to keep. we try not to be the stereotypical poem-hoarding editor, we limit ourselves to two pieces (or three in rare and exceptional circumstances) per packet..... for flash: we love stories that take us to unexpected places, stuff we can't stop thinking about and want to read again and again.
A: Most of the works we've accepted stood out from the slush pile because they had a focused theme or story, a well-written and believable premise, and some overlap as far as intersectionality goes.
A: If you think of the largest house in which a person is privileged to give room to everything from pains and memorials to accessories and candy, this is a Pink Plastic House. There is not room for racism, misogyny or hate but otherwise it is a large house that has highlighted many pleasures and problems that take up room in our souls.
A: One that follows the guidelines. I know that might not be a sexy answer, but it's true. We set guidelines for a reason. It helps all of our editors read submissions quickly when they are formatted correctly.
In terms of an ideal submission that I like to read: One that shows instead of tells. I want to be dropped into a story, immersed in it. Surround me with the sights and smells of your childhood, don't just tell me about it. Like me be on that first date with you, don't just tell me what happened. I want to be in the story.
A: Some piece of creative work, be it art or some sort of written piece, that has explored some topic in some different or new way.
A: Traditional Sherlock Holmes, set in the right period. Strong storyline, Conan Doyle style writing with plenty of deduction.
A: Our ideal submissions are exquisite and creative pieces of African literature from African writers in African or the Diaspora and afrocentric nonAfrican writers. Accepted pieces must meet our exquisite and creative taste.
A: The IDEAL submission? Probably a novella or poetry book by one the authors mentioned in our submission guidelines that doesn't work for their usual publisher(s) for one reason or another.
But, I mean, everything we've published was an ideal submission, we just wouldn't have been able to describe it until it landed in the inbox. Surprise and delight us and it won't matter that your name isn't Danez Smith.
A: Clear cover letter and short 3rd-person bio. Submission meets all guidelines and is properly formatted.
A: We love submissions that aren't afraid to push deeper. For example, say you're writing a piece about your favorite holiday meal at your favorite restaurant. It's a tradition with your family. We don't want to see a nice vignette about what you order, but rather, we want to see: who's at the table, who's in the kitchen, what conflicts are at play, how have you changed over the course of this tradition, what glimpses of the past or future can you give us to create fully-formed characters. Our ideal submission explores a very specific, unique situation to the writer but manages to open up a shared universal emotion.
A: Impossible - Everyone is unique, everyone has talent.
It must communicate, it must emotionally reach the audience.