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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.
Here is a small sampling from our recent Editor Interviews. We have interviewed over 1,775 editors.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: Work submitted cannot have been previously published or be submitted elsewhere at same time.
A: Often they will submit overlong pieces, or material that isn't well suited for our audience.
A: They send in stories of worlds that are framed like a Utopia, but are actually a Dystopia. Or even more frequently, they send in stories that don't have good endings. They're neat, trim, and the complexity of human figures are forgotten. The end comes suddenly like a guillotine, but the author hasn't said everything they need to say. It doesn't serve as a launch pad for the reader to imagine what happens next it just kind of fizzles and reading it it's very clear that the story isn't there or hasn't finished.
A: We try to keep the process as simple as possible and, actually, submitters don't usually mess it up! Most often, the trouble is that the writer hasn't paid attention to the sorts of things we publish.
A: Submissions that don’t fit our guidelines. Submissions that simply need more
work: workshop/critique, proofreading. And (though we do also consider previously
published work) neglecting to notify us if the piece has been published before,
where, and when.
A: Submitters often send poems they have written in response to a piece of art and want us to publish the poem with that particular piece of art. This isn't how the process works. We are the curators of the conversation. However, we will publish ekphrastic poems. Artists often send art that isn't the right resolution.
A: We are often sent pieces that quite clearly do not fit with the style or voice of the magazine. However, the implication of this is not to artificially constrain your artistic voice to conform with our style, but rather, to make sure that our magazine is the right fit for your writing.
A: We are working to change our submissions infrastructure, but as of right now you MUST put your contact information in the BODY of your submission. We’ve had to turn away so many wonderful pieces simply because we can’t find a way to contact the submitter.
A: This answer kind of shares some qualities with the one on what an ideal submission looks like, but again I'd say ignoring the theme or submission guidelines. Some of that might be the fact that our theme so far has been writing around a single word, so it's a little more subjective, but I think that at times this gets completely ignored. In the future, I'd like to see if I could find the most effective way to make sure that people can more consistently get in line with the submission guidelines. I think some of the onus is definitely on me for this.
A: Hands down, the biggest issue we get is someone write's a great short story, does a genre search, then simply copy/pastes the submission without taking the time to learn about our publication. A good chunk of what we turn down comes with an email that says, "This is a great story, we are sure someone will publish it, just not us. After reading our submission page, feel free to resubmit something that fits the type of thing we publish."
We also get things that are too long a fair bit. If you are telling an ethical question story, do it in the least words possible. Nobody wants to read 10,000 words just to get to the question, "Are all forms of meat eating, volunteering to be cannibalized, an act of non-consensual violence?"
A: Work that does not address the announced theme.
A: They do not use the resources for Poe's work expected or they have not attended to the documentation style we use.