Friday, August 17, 2018

Tobi Alfier - Etiquette for Editors

Acceptances and Rejections – Etiquette for Editors

      Most of my blogs are written for poets. This one is for the other side of the submitting poet situation: The Editor! Although this is about “submitting poets and the editors who are less than polite to them”, if you choose not to submit your work, you are still a poet! 
      Submitting poetry is time intensive, requires a great deal of organization, and it’s not for everyone. That’s okay. I am a submitting poet. I would rather do that than almost anything. You may have other priorities and that’s fine.
      I was having a discussion with an editor who has published my work once and rejected me four times. We have great conversations on social media even though I don’t seem to match the aesthetics of his journal. He was talking about editors who don’t send out rejection notifications.
      How many of you have submitted to journals who have this practice? How many of you remember to keep checking to see if you’ve been accepted or not? 
      How many of you find this practice of an editor not responding positively or negatively incredibly rude?
      As an editor, my feeling, and I know Rich feels the same way, is if you have taken your time to review our guidelines and do a submission to our journals:

      We owe you a complete review of your submission, and
      We owe you an acceptance, or declination.
     If a journal does not allow simultaneous submissions, they are holding your work hostage and making you responsible for knowing the status of it. That’s not right, in my opinion.
      And if a journal allows simultaneous submissions but makes you responsible for knowing the status of it, your work is being held hostage anyway. You can’t submit it anywhere else unless you’re prepared to withdraw it. Why should the status be your responsibility?
      There’s nothing you can do about journals that charge a $3 fee for submitting. We don’t do it. Don’t submit to them if you don’t agree with it. But journals that don’t send out rejections? I just don’t think there’s any excuse for that.
      Our journal has a very short window. We post the back cover, which lists the contributors, the day after the window closes.
     Before that cover is posted, every submitter has heard from us. If they’ve submitted toward the end of the window, they are reassured their work was carefully reviewed.
Aretha 1942-2018
      Editors are not gods. We would not have journals without submitting writers. It is rare to receive comments back on your submission. That’s what a workshop is for. But the very least we can do is check for typos, check for consistent tenses, ask questions if necessary, and promptly respond
to your submissions with a “yes” or a “no”.
      Submitting is a two-way street. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

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Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn't Matter Where. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.


  1. Very informative, Tobi. I am new at this submission game and it is good to have a guide. Thanks.

  2. Well thank you so much. I'm always happy to help. Best of luck to you!!!

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