Duotrope is a terrific online submissions tracking tool for writers, listing about 5000 fiction, poetry, and nonfiction markets, filled with useful reports. If you haven’t heard of Duotrope, check it out (you can take free trial on their website; after that, it’s $5/month or $50/year to subscribed.)
Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
A: cutting-edge words
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: We are serious about literature and art, but we also have a whimsical side. (By the way, “cutting edge” is a pun.)
We take a personal interest in each story, poem, essay, and piece of art that we publish in Cleaver. It’s not unusual to for us to work with a writer through several revisions before accepting a piece. We also put a lot of thought into the presentation of each work we publish. We care about how it looks on the screen, and put effort into layout and graphics that will make the best possible reading experience. We often consult our authors to find out their own ideas for illustrations.
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: Every literary magazine wants its writers to read their guidelines before submitting and to be familiar with the magazine. For the most part, we are flattered to see that our potential writers really do follow our guidelines and do demonstrate familiarity with our publication.
We have eclectic tastes, but will avoid material with misogynist, racist, or homophobic overtones. We will also generally avoid genre writing. Sometimes we love a piece but find it riddled with errors. In this case, we may ask the author to correct and re-submit. Or we may just reject it out of exasperation. We are not your copyeditors. Proofread your work before submitting.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: Our submissions requirements includes a request for a brief bio because we want to get to know you. It’s fine if you don’t have a ream of publication credits, but let us know something about yourself, serious or whimsical.
We also request that you single-space prose submissions. That’s because double-spaced text is awkward to read through our submissions management software.
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: We do request a short bio from our submitters. We don’t care if you don’t have a ream of publications credits, but we want to know about little about you, serious or whimsical. Don’t blow us off by writing, “I prefer to let my work speak for itself.”
Also, if you have some connection to us, or if you were sent an encouraging rejection notice and are submitting something new by request, do mention that in your note.
Q: How much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: We stop reading a piece the instant we know for certain that it is not going to be a good fit for us. Generally, we can tell within a few paragraphs. But if a piece seems like it might work at all, we certainly read it to the end, and again.
Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?
A: We tend to read submissions in chunks. So you might get an answer 24 hours after you submitted– or 24 days, depending on our personal schedules. We promise you won’t wait 24 months… or years.
Depending on which genre you’ve submitted, and which editor reads your work, you might receive an immediate offer of acceptance, or your piece may need to go to the table for discussion. Often, a piece will be accepted conditionally with a request for revision– or a piece may be sent back for revision without a firm offer of acceptance. But if you are asked for a revision, take heart: in the end, we’ve published 95% of the manuscripts we have sent back to shop.
Poetry generally takes longer than prose. If you haven’t heard back, it’s okay to query, but please give us at least a month. In general, no news is good news (see above.)
We have several tiers of rejection notices, ranging from “thanks, but no thanks” all the way up to “please know that your piece was a finalist”. We think it’s important for writers to know that their work was considered seriously and that we value their time and talent. Often we will write a small personal note at the bottom of the form.