AWP Dispatch: What We Hate--Editorial Dos and Don'ts

This one comes from our very own Tiffany Q. Tyson, fiction writer, board member, and, perhaps most urgently, principal at Simple Sugar Bakery, which outfitted the Lighthouse booth with the most amazing cookies known to mankind (chocolate with black pepper! gingerbread!). She made it into the SRO "What We Hate" panel, which many of us tried to attend to no avail. Thanks, TQ, for your notes.

What We Hate: Editorial Dos and Don’ts

Panelists: H. Emerson Blake, Editor-in-Chief of Orion Magazine; Katie Dublinski, Managing and Editorial Director of Graywolf Press; Andrew Leland, Managing Editor of the Believer; Denise Oswald, Editorial Director of Soft Skull Press and Senior Editor at Counterpoint Press; Daniel Slager, Publisher of Milkweed Editions; Rob Spillman, Editor and Co-Founder of Tin House.

So the biggest take-away from this panel is that these editors say they actually LOVE writers. They love us especially when we are thoughtful, patient, well-informed about their press or magazine, talented, and original. They do not love us when we send work that is outside the realm of anything they’ve ever published (no romance for the feminist press, please), or when we use wacky fonts or colored paper, or when we call them or email them before several months have passed to check on our submissions, or when we send them angry missives in response to a rejection, or when we pitch an idea that is identical to one recently published in their magazine. There were conflicting reports on whether they loved or hated being plied with chocolate and/or cash. They fully expect simultaneous submissions, but discourage blanket or scattershot submissions. Once they’ve decided to publish your work, they ask that you please not disappear during the editorial process. Also, they do not want unsolicited revisions while the magazine is sitting at the printer. Your reputation as a difficult writer will follow you for the rest of your days, apparently; so, be nice and be professional. And, yes, they do use a veritable stable of interns as first readers for the many thousands of stories and manuscripts they receive, but they’ve worked hard to ensure that these interns are in tune with the type of material they hope to publish. Please, don’t hate the interns.

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