Gladiator Sudden Death (and other editorial processes)

The start of the spring semester is within spittin’ distance. It’s been a much appreciated break, but we’re all excited to get the ball rolling for the one/hundred/and/third issue of transfer magazine (that’s half a century of poetry and prose, people!).

We’re currently accepting submissions. That’s where you come in. There are a gazillion links in this blog to lead you through the submission process.

But what happens to your work after it’s submitted, you ask?

The editor-in-chief will separate the cover sheets from the manuscripts and file according to genre (can you say: paper cuts?). The other editors will then sift through every page (we’re talking hundreds…and hundreds…) and number them. This process is usually accompanied by Trader Joe’s hummus, pita chips and iTunes. If budget allows, maybe even a classy bottle of two-buck chuck.

From the night of the submission deadline, the editors only have THREE DAYS to read/sort/plow through their genre’s manuscripts. The editors then all meet and whittle down the manuscripts to form the LONG LIST  [last semester the third day was a whirlwind of 8×11 copy paper, coffee, Thai food take out and tears (the tears, for the record, were from the spiciness of the curry) (…sure)].

Once the long list is finalized, the editors email the staff to prep them for the three-week discussions that will occur based on the contending manuscripts. The discussions are the crux of the decision making process. Each piece is examined from every possible angle: its intentions, strengths, weaknesses (this is my favorite part of the semester. And the differences between the poetry discussions and the fiction discussions are vast and uncharted: poetry is such a personal thing, a concrete abstraction, a pulse of an unidentifiable being; the fiction discussions are precise, fine-tuned, white-gloved, surgical: they both are exactly what they need to be).

Final decisions are tough. They are made on the day of the third and last discussions. Sometimes things can get pretty heated between the editors. Other times it’s unanimous what gets in (it will occasionally be a 50/50 split. At this point we resort to gladiator sudden death. This may sound intense and dramatic, but really it’s just passing the manuscript to an editor of a different genre and seeing what kind of reading they get).

And folks, that’s how it works. That is the process your submissions will go through to make it to publication. It can seem a bit arduous, so many hoops for your manuscript to jump through, but really, we read generously (and there’s a lot smaller pool than national lit mags). We are your biggest fans. So come on. Submit.        Let us root for you.

What Does it take to Get Published? Join Transfer’s Editorial Staff and Find Out!

The new Transfer issue two students solicit you to purchase at a folding table on the first floor of the Humanities building every semester? That was the result of roughly twenty undergrad Creative Writing students with varying literary tastes and writing styles coming together in CW 640 to read, analyze, discuss and debate over numerous submissions, helping a small team of student editors select stories and poems to represent SFSU’s writers in a single volume. By taking CW 640 you’ll not only get the inside scoop on the competition and what the editors are looking for, you’ll also experience the publication process first-hand, develop editorial skills such as copy-editing, and get that much closer to learning how to refine your work for established literary magazines everywhere!

Most courses in the Creative Writing program encourage students to consider a peer’s work as unfinished and discuss craft in order to improve the piece in the future. In these courses, a student’s work is considered as a draft, so evaluative remarks are often unhelpful. Plus, the writer is present, it’s not like you can offer a thumbs up/thumbs down assessment without inflating or wounding the writer’s ego. But CW 640 offers a different experience Continue reading “What Does it take to Get Published? Join Transfer’s Editorial Staff and Find Out!”