What happens to a submission once we receive it? It begins a dramatic and passionate journey called the “editorial workflow,” as you’ll see outlined below.
What some call the “slush pile,” we receive unsolicited submissions in our online submissions manager, which logged-in staff can access at Workspace>Submissions Manager, or at the link below:
On the Submissions Manager page is a table of submissions displayed in descending order (newest to oldest), with clickable tabs for viewing by genre. See the screenshot below:
Each submission is displayed as a record with basic information such as the submitter’s name, the title, etc. (including the final editorial decision—more on that shortly). Click on an entry’s title or submitter name to access the submission’s detail page, where you’ll find the submitter’s cover letter, a link to download the submission file, any staff comments in response to it, and a form you can use to add your own comments. Comments are not viewable by submitters (phew!). See an example submission detail page on a mobile device below:
So this is a submission’s “point A”. Now the editorial workflow begins:
- Reader Round: Readers read, comment, and vote.
- Use the “Add a Comment” form to comment and vote (using the radio button options) on each submission. You may submit a comment without voting, but you must vote once on each submission you review. You may comment as many times as you like, whether in response to another staff member’s comment or in follow up to your own.
- Editor Input: Editors read, comment, and vote
- Review the readers’ comments and votes, and prioritize promising submissions; save sending out rejections for later.
- Use the “Add a Comment” form to respond to readers’ comments and add your own.
- If you are an editor, you will see below the staff comments section an additional form titled “Final Response.” Only use this form to officially accept or reject the piece. But not before step 3!
- Editorial Discussion: Editors upload pieces they would like to accept or pieces that need further discussion to their matching genre channel in Slack, where a final decision is made by consensus.
- Final Response: An editor (either an editor of the submission’s genre or the Editor in Chief) sends the final decision by following two steps:
- Updating the submission’s status in the backend: Via the “Edit” link to the far left of the submission’s record in our Submissions Manager, or via the backend admin-area listing of submissions, access the submission and scroll to the bottom of its entry details. If you are logged in as an editor, you will see a section where you can update the “Decision Status” by selecting from one of three radio buttons (Accepted, Declined, Withdrawn). Select the appropriate status, then move on the step 2 below to notify the submitter.
- Notifying the submitter using the “Final Response” form: in either the submission’s detail page or on the Final Responses page (Workspace>Submissions Manager>Final Responses).
- Decline submissions using our standard rejection letters, available right on the Final Responses page.
- If the submission merits a personal response, feel free to provide one.
- Accept submissions using our standard acceptance letter (plus a little something personal), also available on the Final Responses page or at the following link:
- Note that this standard acceptance letter only notifies the submitter of our decision and asks for confirmation that their submission is still available for publication and they would like to accept our offer.
- Publishing Agreement: If the submitter accepts our offer of publication, a Managing Editor or the Editor in Chief responds with a standard or customized publishing contract within one week.
Once the submitter signs a publishing agreement and becomes a contributor, the submission moves on to an editor for content and copywriting.
Solicited submissions are received directly by the editor who solicited them, or at our general editorial email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. Once received, solicited submissions enter the following workflow:
- The receiving editor uploads the submission to the #soliciting channel in Slack, where the editors review and discuss it, and a decision is reached by consensus.
- If the final decision is to decline the submission, the receiving editor replies directly to the submitter with an encouraging invitation to submit different work as soon as they are ready. If they submit again, go back to step 1!
- If the final decision is to accept the submission, the receiving editor sends a personalized acceptance letter, and a Managing Editor or the Editor in Chief follows up with a standard or customized publishing contract within one week.