Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Katie as Editor

So this poet is pretty proud today, well, yesterday, but I just got around to writing this today because... well, reasons.

Anyway, the first issue of Amarillo Bay with me as poetry editor was published. You can check it out here.

So what does the editorial process of a literary journal look like? Well, now that I'm so experienced (hehehehe) let me shed a little bit of light on the process.

The whole thing began oh, about three months ago in May. I got the "job" and my first task was, of course, slush sifting, which means, of course, going through a bunch of unsolicited submissions in search of gems. I started receiving said submissions right away, and each time my inbox was full, I have to admit, I felt a little excited and honored. Poets from all over the world (and I can say that because some dude sent me a batch from Brazil!) were sending ME their poems to read.

My process for slush-sifting looks like this: I read the batch of poems. The ones I knew weren't a good fit for the journal's vision got a rejection letter after my initial read through.

For the batches that showed a little promise, clipped my favorite poems with their author's emails and pasted them in a word document. I called this my "maybe" pile.

This went on for about two months. I'd receive, oh, a handful of batches everyday, and I'd clean out my inbox about once or twice a week. So it really wasn't all that time consuming, to be honest.  Maybe an hour and a half a week.

After the two months of sifting were up, I decided it was time to make my selections. So, I returned to my word document of "maybes" which totaled about 30 poems to winnow it down to my final seven, which I would accept for publication.

I read through my little gems again, rating them on a scale from 1 to 10. Since I was reading the poems with fresh eyes, it was actually pretty fun. I'd forgotten what most of the poems were like, and it was surprising to look through what had initially spoken to me, and it was pretty easy to pick my favorites at this point, to be honest.

Then came the fun part. I sent out acceptance letters! And then the less fun part -- the rejection letters. But all of the poems that made it past my initial sift got a nice, personal rejection inviting them to resubmit. So, maybe it was a little fun after all. One of the poems I wanted to accept had already been published elsewhere, so that was a bit of a bummer. But not to worry, I just picked another poem from the same poet that I liked almost as much, and all was well.

Once I'd heard back from everyone, I forwarded my selections to the publisher. He loved them, but we went back and forth with edits, which was tedious but important.

And then, well, the issue was published!

Want a confession? My favorite poem of this batch was "Boris the Ninety-Pound House Cat." At first, the poem didn't grab me, but now I just can't get that zinger-of-a-first-line out of my head. Of course, I can totally relate to that poem, being a serious cat lover myself (note to readers, submit cat poems. I have a soft spot!).

And that's pretty much it. I've already begun reading for our December issue. If you have a poem laying around and want me to take a look, do toss a submission my way. I respond to everything, and almost always leave some sort of personal feedback.

So that's how I do things. I wonder how other poetry editors handle submissions and slush-sifting? I'd love to hear your thoughts, always always always.



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