I am very nosey about how other magazines operate.
Ours is very streamlined and efficient. (Absinthe Revival). We are in the top 100 on Duotrope for number of submissions received (#74), and #2 on Duotrope for response time (less than a day).
For now anyway, we are online only, and publish stories as they're accepted, no issues, print, pay, personalized rejections, art, columns, or extra layers of decision-makers. We pick the stories we like the most and get 'em out there, that's it.
It's mostly just my husband and me. We have help now and then, if needed or if someone we trust is available. Once or twice a day we read the day's slush together or separately or just one of us does it. If a story stands out, we decide together. If one of us recognizes an author's name from elsewhere, the other one reads it, to keep the personal stuff out of it. It takes maybe a half hour to an hour, every day.
I have some ideas for this year. Maybe a "Best of" print anthology and/or a tip jar by each story for the writers, but I don't see it needing more people. I feel like more people would only get in the way and slow us down. But then, as mentioned, we have a very lean and mean operation. I like it that way.
How do y'all do things? Do you think it works well? What would improve it?
Being my first project, I don't really have a process yet. The first month Pantheon Magazine was open to submissions, fiction subs trickled in a few times a week. Very doable. The average return time was <1 day. Once the previews for the first issue came out, submissions have exploded. Average return time is now <3 days. I'm a one man band at the moment, so it's a little tough but it's an amazing feeling getting submissions.
I'll probably need to recruit a slush pile reader eventually.
But I like your more structured process Carly. I'll have to think of a routine that works for me to ensure that my return times stay consistent. Also, the Antho idea sounds cool.
I'm the fiction editor for Parable Press, but I'll let Courtney (head editor) explain the process for that one, if she's reading this thread.
I read slush for Electric Velocipede, a Hugo award winning semi-pro 'zine. It's both a print and an online 'zine. There are 4 of us slushies (all female, strangely), and we use Clarkesworld's database to read our slush. We seem to get through the slush really quickly. If your story seems to be taking a long while to get a response, that's usually a good thing. Our boss man (head editor) is John Klima who is talented and lovely. He has five other editors working with him.
I have tried so hard to make this short and just can't.
Each month, an issue of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and art debuts. The time frame works well because it gives me a chance to get everything set-up and ready and work on columns between. I currently edit a themed column by Sound and a serialized column by Ryan and Jessica is working with Matt on a serialized installment as well, and they debut on off weeks (weeks where they isn't an issue or preview.)
We have a staff of seven now -- I act as head editor; Jessica is our fiction editor, and Meredith Alder is her assistant; Heather Foster is poetry editor, with Gretchen Oberle as her assistant; and Lisa Luton is non-fiction editor with Amber Partington helping her. We didn't intend to be female-only, but it seems to happen that way frequently. Jessica and Meredith were both LR recruits, Heather was sent by Richard and chose Gretchen, and Lisa was sent by Heather. I think Amber was sent by either Jessica or Heather as well.
The assistants -- Meredith, Gretchen, and Amber -- read the slush as it comes in on Submittable. Each pair has their own routine, but from what I discern through Submittable, it usually happens this way:
--either I or their editor (Jessica, Heather, or Lisa) assigns it to them
--they read and vote on it, sometimes making comments viewable only to the rest of us about their feelings, since they can vote no, maybe, or yes
--the higher-up editor reads and decides, sending out acceptances or rejections without consulting me
I tell everyone that Jessica, Heather, and Lisa's statements and decisions have as much weight as mine because I consider us all equal partners in Parable. I work behind the scenes, guaranteeing that everything runs smoothly, but they're almost singularly in charge of making sure we have quality content each month. They've all turned out to be fantastic judges of their various genres and we work together very, very well.
Contact is usually made with one another via a group email we almost constantly have running or via personal email exchange. (Jessica and I have been consistently emailing one another nearly every day about everything from the magazine to our personal lives since the first week she came on as fiction editor.) It can range from witty comments about aggressive submitters (people who submit in every single fucking category, leading us to shut off multiple submissions for good) to Jessica giving us the Duotrope stats for the week. We all seem to work together as a team very, very well, and usually stay in contact very well.
The reading of slush and accepting/rejecting is the primary job of the editors, but Jessica also edits Matt's column. I'm in charge of Ryan and Sound's, but because of my other numerous duties and busy schedule, she took over his and I asked her to keep at it because they were working well together and she wanted the experience.
The multiple staff process works very well for a long-term magazine like Parable because I don't think it would have worked as a single-person operation. They remind me of things I forget and are really the driving force behind the quality of our content.
As for my duties, I do everything website and publishing related, but I've rambled enough already and have a few other points to make.
First, there are a lot of changes made to Parable damn near every day, and lots of projects in the works that I've ever discussed with writers or Jessica or the entire team. I definitely have thoughts for anthologies and print issues, or at least print-on-demand issues, but I'm certain we'll need more staff for that and already can't pay the fantastic editors and contributors, so that'll have to wait. The idea for Parable had been stewing in my mind for months, since my boyfriend and I had to quash the journal we originally worked on, so there are a lot of different avenues Parable may take.
I like hearing about the process, but I'm also curious about the why behind publications. Personally, I love editing and reading almost more than writing, and that -- combined with the feeling that there wasn't any journal catering to my personal tastes -- drove me to start Parable.
Editing me is a full time job, considering my constant, unintentional tense changes and my overuse of commas. Good luck! :)
courtney you have a great staff and structure. Heather was in my MFA program, as was Gretchen and Lisa. all very talented poets and writers. you guys are really doing a great job.
Thanks, Richard! Heather's been a godsend. I can't keep track of who suggested who, but it's all shaped up very nicely. Their judgement has been invaluable.
@Sound You really aren't bad at all! I promise :)
Sound You really aren't bad at all! I promise :)
Sound You really aren't bad at all! I promise :)
Taken out of context, this gave me a bit of a chuckle.