Monday, November 1, 2010

An Editor's Wish List

What do editors want? I can only speak for myself, but many items such as those on my "wish list" are mentioned over and over (and over) again in writers' magazines and writers' resources. But since it's the wish list time of year, I'm happy to list mine here!

#1. Our number of subscribers would be commensurate with our number of published poets. This would insure our continued sustainability as an independent small press journal.

#2. All submitters would have seen a copy of our journal before submitting (whether said copy was purchased or borrowed). Blind submissions are the number one factor in rejections. Blind submissions waste valuable time (of editor and writer), and if we are discussing postal submissions, blind submissions waste the submitter's to-and-from postage, not to mention envelopes and paper.

#3. All submitters would have read our guidelines prior to submitting.
#3.a. All submitters would follow said guidelines after reading them.
#3.a.1. At the very least, submitters would have read one of our listings in such places as Poet's Market, Directory of Poetry Pubishers, or
#3.a.1.b. In the case of 3.a.1, submitters would follow recommendations as in #3.a.

#4. Correspondence would arrive with reference points! Hypothetical example: we receive an e-mail from The e-mail says something like: "Hi, thanks for accepting my poem. When does my subscription expire?" We would be embarrassed to ask Bestpoet to identify themselves further. So, this would be better: "Dear Editors, thanks for accepting my poem, 'On Being the Best Poet' in your next issue. Could you tell me when my subscription expires? Sincerely, Jane Bestpoet.'"
#4.a The above applies to postal correspondence (such as sometimes-cryptic postcards) as well as e-mail.

#5. Submitted work would always be season/deadline appropriate. For example, I am working on some fall poems of my own. But if I were an Aurorean submitter, I would not mail them until at least next February. Why? Our Fall/Winter deadline has passed. Until next February 15th, we are reviewing for Spring/Summer even though it is only mid-autumn.

#6. Poems would always arrive with: a cover letter (or a note), indicating that the submisssion wasn't hastily thrown in an envelope and tossed in the mail, but rather, sent with some degree of forethought. (We assume here—and this goes back to reading guidelines, but always worth repeating—that poems ALWAYS arrive with SASE's.)

#7. Lastly, I wish to continue to have as many thoughtful poets, subscribers, and Aurorean friends as I do and to meet many more along the way. My wish list isn't an enumeration of wrongs committed. It ends with appreciation and gratitude for the time poets take to send their work to us, for the messages of kindness that come along with those submissions, and for the financial support our growing family of poetry friends provides.

But I must get busy making my real wish list. And I must check it twice.


  1. Cynthia, your list makes not only valid sense but leaves me wondering how some would be poets could overlook your guidelines.However,this simply reinforces your sincere kindness to assist both new and old Aurorean hopefuls(myself included) to have the privilege of seeing their work there.Something to work for--and look forward to--most of all, to have each other as friends. THANK YOU!!!!

  2. I think many (hopefully newer) poets do overlook guidelines/listings in favor of throwing as many submissions out in the world and seeing if any stick.

    That said, as a poet, I'm as guilty as anyone of perhaps not keeping up on updated guidelines/listings in places I'd like to submit to. Sometimes it's easy to overlook/miss what a market wants/needs currently because we may have submitted to them many times previously, so we may not feel the need to check their current listings/guidelines or website announcements because we feel a familiarity with them. But needs and guidelines change (editors and addresses change, too!) and a quick check-in with a market's guidelines each time one submits is probably the best course of action.

    It's also worth noting that subscribers seem to be the most tuned-in, hint, hint. :-)

    Thanks for your insights, Natalia!