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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 1,850 editors.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: 1-3 previously unpublished poems, up to 32 lines each... We can't really describe an ideal submission. We appreciate all the poets who decide to send us their submissions very much and enjoy reading them in search of the next poems to add to our series.
A: It should be a great poem.
A: A work where language, meaning, music, and form all come together with intention. The author might not have started out knowing exactly how they wanted to write their manuscript, but by the time they submitted it, they were very clear and purposeful about its content and construction.
A: There is no ideal submission. I don’t think it’s possible to distil all the characteristics of a great submission into a list of criteria. Writing is an artform – the last thing I would want a writer to do would be to read a checklist on Idle Ink's website and try to write a story to fit all the points perfectly, because that wouldn’t be authentic.
I never thought I’d publish a story with a twenty-eight-word title, or a philosophical analytical essay, or a lengthy time-travel story about Loch Ness, but they were too good to refuse. My point being, Idle Ink is all about originality and inclusivity. The best piece of advice I can give to writers would be to write for yourself, not for anybody else, because the most fascinating pieces are the unrestrained ones. It’s also much more fun.
A: If Ray Bradbury and Charles Bukowski were writing partners.
A: I want the submission process to be as writer-friendly as possible. You can send your work in the body of an email, as a Word doc attached to an email.
Please note that I don’t publish much work that uses a great deal of ‘white space’.
I don’t want to waste writers’ time.
A: Ready for publication.
A: One to three poems, six pieces of art, or four pages of fiction that are emotionally-charged and deal with the broad scope of living a lifetime, and a strong cover letter that addresses the background behind the creation of the submission and what it personally means to the writer or artist to have created it.
A: I'm afreaid I'm going to sound a bit like the late SCOTUS Justice Potter Stuart here. I'm not sure I can describe the ideal submission, but I know it when I see it.
The ideal submission is one which makes me think "Holy Shit! I have to have this!" and then sets me to furiously typing my acceptance. I have been known to ask for a poem within ten minutes of its arrival in my email Inbox. So, I guess the poem needs to somehow induce a startle reflex in me. It has to be original; it has to be self-assured; it has to be the perfect version of itself. It needs to provide that "Aha!" in some form. It has to make me see something a new way; it needs to make me feel something. Joy, sadness, personal discomfort, anything, so long as it is abrupt and strong.
A: Word document (not docx), formatted to industry standard, very brief cover letter with bio and contact information. Work is extremely polished and shows solid command of the craft, and is so engaging we forget we’re reading.
A: The ideal is a clear and consistent argument that makes use of appropriate primary and secondary sources, flows naturally, clearly makes each of its points, and shows that the author has accomplished the background work to support his/her claims.
A: We want to publish work about a new idea or object that we haven't covered before. We want vivid, literary essays. We want narrative nonfiction, lists, and earnest arguments for trivial things (but why it's not trivial to YOU). We want to cover what's trending within the arts in a personal way. An ideal pitch will give us a great idea of how you write and what you're getting at. An ideal poem will make us look closer and reread it.