Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday Writings: Inside the Editor's Mind II

Gumbo Writer has come from behind and is now in the top 3 blogs for March over at the bloginterviewer site, so won't ya help an underdawg out and hit the thumb's up over in the sidebar? You can vote once per day (at 24-hour intervals) until the end of the month. If I win, I'm purchasing books from kimmi (The Unbreakable Child) and Kathryn (Tender Graces) as contest giveaways. So, go vote! And THANK YOU!

Now, on with today's topic...I did a series of posts taken from interviews with editors of literary publications and zines last year for The Rose & Thorn Literary E-zine's blog, and since bloggy friends seemed to enjoy the first segment, I'm posting another today. It's always interesting to look at things from the other side of the desk, so hope you enjoy and go visit these places when you get a chance.

Here's the question these generous editor folks answered~~

Advice for getting one's submission out of the slush pile?

Name: Steven Seighman
Title: Editor/Founder
Publisher/Publication: Monkeybicycle
Following the submissions guidelines on the Monkeybicycle Web site helps. I'd say at least 75% of the submissions I get aren't set up the way we ask. And we don't have these specific rules on our site just to be jerks. It's taken us a lot of time to tailor the process to one that allows us to get through the most submissions in the least amount of time. People who don't read our guidelines obviously aren't in a hurry to hear back from us, so we move those to the bottom of the pile and get to them when we can--when everything else has been looked at.

Name: Timothy Green
Title: Editor
Publisher/Publication: RATTLE
Personal site/blog:
Send us memorable poems. Worrying about the guidelines or writing a friendly cover letter might make me like you, but it has no effect on what happens after that. I'd take a good poem written on toilet paper over my best friend's drivel. Send poems that are unique, insightful, and have something to say. If you think we aren't publishing a certain kind of poem, send that, so we can start.

Name: Beth Staples
Title: Managing Editor
Publisher/Publication: Hayden’s Ferry Review
In addition to “write the best you can,” and other much-repeated (but true!) advice, I recommend reading literary journals. Whenever I’m somewhere representing HFR, I bring a pile of “submission guidelines” and a pile of “subscription information.” Guess which pile disappears and which one doesn’t? Writers need to read. I can’t stress this enough. Editors don’t suggest reading their lit journals because they need the money (though, um, we do) but because if you read the kind of work a journal publishes, you’ll save yourself time, energy and money when you’re submitting. Also, if you plan to be an emerging writer yourself, support emerging writers. The market of lit journals needs your support in order to keep providing a space for you to be published in. Also, reading will only help you become a better writer; if I teach my students nothing else, I hope they get that. And reading a journal’s submission guidelines and following them helps, too.

Name: Cooper Renner
Title: Editor
Publisher/Publication: elimae
Personal site/blog:
I don't think we have a slush pile. Everything comes in directly to me.

Name: Susan Burmeister-Brown
Title: Co-editor
Publisher/Publication: Glimmer Train Stories
Linda and I read all the work that comes through our online submission system. We look for a story to care about, so be sure you care about it, too.

Name: Reb Livingston
Title: Poet, Editor & Publisher
Publisher/Publication: No Tell Motel & No Tell Books
As I mentioned, know the publications before you send. Some people don't want to hear that. These days when many magazines publish online and most print publications have sample work available on their websites, there is ZERO excuse not to do this. Not doing the research is pure laziness and demonstrates an unwillingness to ingratiate oneself into the very community he wants to embrace his work.

Name: John Amen
Title: Editor
Publisher/Publication: The Pedestal Magazine
Just write, and keep writing. Let publishing be the incidental outcome of the joy for writing.

Name: Cesar Garza
Title: Senior Editor
Publisher/Publication: The Rose & Thorn Literary E-zine
Ah, well, we don't have a slush pile, per se, since we only accept email submissions and every submission is read at least once. Each month my fellow poetry editors send around a "picks list," an individually selected group of poems they want me to consider for publication. The better poems tend to show up in the picks list of more than one poetry editor, and those are the ones I pay close attention to. Of course, in the past I've selected poems that only appeared in the picks list of one poetry editor. It just depends on the work itself. Advice for getting one's submission out of the proverbial slush pile: see my answer to the next question.

Name: J.W. Wang
Title: Editor
Publisher/Publication: Juked
Write, and write some more. Then read, and read some more. Then write, and…

Name: G.S. Evans
Title: Coeditor
Publisher/Publication: The Cafe Irreal
The cliche about the first paragraph tends to be true, that it needs to be quite well-written. And, I'm afraid that stating in the cover letter that you have been nominated for a Pushcart doesn't help at all as, given the proliferation of publications, it seems that everybody and their kid brother has been nominated for one.


Janna Qualman said...

Yes! Go you! You're doing great, and I can't wait to see the results.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Thanks, Angie, very helpful information!

DebraLSchubert said...

So, they're saying we should read and write more. Do grocery lists and blog-surfing count? No, I didn't think so...

Amy Sue Nathan said...

To throw a wrench into the system, I think it's easy for editors to say 'write and don't care about getting published' because perhaps it isn't what they want for themselves, and most editors are spoiled for choice with more submissions than they know what to do with. Granted many are bad submissions, but we'd all like the task of choice on the top of our daily to-do lists.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Thanks, Janna girl.

Carrie, glad it was helpful.

Oh, Schube, say it ain't so! :)

Amy, I hear your angst. Maybe they mean to write true to self vs. what you think is popular/commercial?

Debbie said...

First, that specific 24 hour rule gets on my last nerve! Why can't they just let me vote once per calendar day? But, since you aren't in charge of that, I'll let it go:) I am voting. Every 24 hours or so:)
Second, thanks for the submission hints. I have a son who wants to be an author. I am trying to absorb all the info I can so I will be able to help him. There isn't much encouragement out there for a teen writer - even one with some talent and promise. (And he has that. He still can't flush the toilet - but he can write.)

Jessica said...

So cool that you got all that editor info. Mind calling up Love Inspired and getting the goods on them for me? LOL

Broke But Still Drinking said...

I don't trust voting.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Debbie, I have a writer-to-be son also, with the same "potty challenges." :) I'll email you with some suggestions for young writers. And thanks for your votes, even though it's a PITA. LOL

hehe, Jessica, I'll get right on that. yeah.

Broke, remember the moral of the Little Red Hen? :)

Lynnette Labelle said...

Write. Read. Read. Write. And then write some more. Oh, I forgot. Have a life outside writing, too. ;)

Lynnette Labelle

Hilary said...

Darn, I meant to hit it before leaving home this morning but forgot. I'm at Frank's now and figured I'd get an extra hit in. ;) Oh well, once is better than not. :)

Emerging Writer said...

A good representative selection. It does bear repeating but nothing we haven't read before!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Good addition, Lynnette!

Thanks, Hilary. You're a good pal.

Glad you enjoyed, EW.

Lori Tiron-Pandit said...

Thanks for the list, Angie. That is great information.

Angie Ledbetter said...

You're welcome, Lori.

Deb Shucka said...

I love these posts. Thanks for sharing such great info.

Labels (Posts, not Peoples)