Editor Interviews

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Read all the editors' answers to Duotrope's interview question: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process? Learn more.

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Here is a small sampling from our recent Editor Interviews. We have interviewed over 1,850 editors.

Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?

A: Our submission criteria are relatively simple so submitters almost always get it right...

A: They abide by the structural guidelines that are needed to construct a Skinny, however, they do not incorporate any figurative language in their pieces. They submit prose, not poetry.

A: Some submitters make mistaken assumptions about the kinds of books we publish. Or they send us manuscripts outside our open reading period.

A: I like to think I’m a laidback and forgiving editor, but there are a few things which irk me.
I don’t enjoy reading offensive stories. Luckily these are in the minority, but I’ve had submissions before that are openly sexist or feature unpleasant scenes that serve no purpose whatsoever, and there’s just no way I’ll ever publish anything like that.
A few times, I’ve received submission emails from writers which include an Amazon link to their book and a request for me to buy it. I can understand the need for indie authors to market their books, but a submission email is not the place to do it.
I think the most frustrating type of submission I receive are the ones that are a little undercooked. The plot is promising, the characterisation is almost there, but it’s not quite up to publication standard. I think a lot of these submissions come from writers that are just starting out, and quite often I think to myself, “this writer’s gonna be brilliant in two or three years’ time.”
Oh, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of emails I get addressed to “Mr Corbett”. I’m a woman, and I’m not exactly hiding it!

JL Corbett, Editor of Idle Ink, 17 November 2020

A: Nothing. Five South submitters are intelligent, can read directions, and are often familiar with the industry's submissions standards.

Kristen Simental, Editor-in-Chief of Five South, 16 November 2020

A: The main thing is the forgetting to include a bio. Please do so.
Occasionally, someone seems to think it’s standard procedure to submit new poems as soon as a rejection is received. I assure you this is not the case. Only do so if an editor has asked you to send more work right away. For ONE ART, since the journal has rolling submissions, I’d request folks wait at least one month before sending along additional work if I have not encouraged you to submit sooner.

A: Some think it is confusing to sign up. It is very straightforward. If you need help, we have places to ask within the forum. All of our editors are willing and capable of helping you out.

A: They treat "the Editor(s)" as a shadow authority of stature, or use a generic cover letter that doesn't address our magazine's mission statement. We want to know you and your work on a more personal level. Either that or they don't follow the submission guidelines.

A: Some are sloppy in one way or another (or in several ways). They don't follow the submission guidelines. They don't proof-read their work. Or (warning -- pet peeve alert) they insist on writing rhymed poems before they have developed their craft to the point where they can do so in service of creating an original piece of work. Being able to twist syntax to the point where you have two adjacent lines ending with "moon" and "soon" does not make you a poet. Until you can do it as naturally as did Robert Frost (or at least Ogden Nash), don't send it to me.
For the record, most poets do a good job of sending their work; this complaint is only about the few who don't.

A: We don’t ask for much in the way of guidelines. Some subs ignore them completely, which tells us that’s probably not a contract we want to enter into. I think some writers might believe markets have guidelines to torture them. That’s not true. Guidelines are there to make the workflow smooth so the market can respond as quickly as possible. Following them to the letter sends the message that there’s a dedication to the craft and the desire to work with a particular publication.

A: The two main problems are not citing primary texts in the original languages and not making proper use of secondary sources.

A: For nonfiction, we prefer you to pitch first. We do not accept reprints. We do not work with authors who are unwilling to collaborate with our editors.

Liz Charlotte Grant, Contributing Editor of The Curator, 09 November 2020