On a Semester of Editing a Literary Journal

From all of us on the editorial team, thank you for keeping up with the minnesota review! Since September, we’ve shared reading lists, interviews with players in the publishing world, writing prompts, and our individual journeys. We hope you’ve enjoyed our snapshot of what’s on our mind during our MFA experience.

As a way to wrap up our stewardship of the journal, here are our team’s thoughts on the editorial process, taking a class on literary editing, tips for submitting, and reflections.

John Darcy: One of the best parts of working on the minnesota review has definitely been getting the chance to see how the other side of submissions works, the process after you hit send. It’s been awfully eye opening, and has absolutely changed the way I think about what I’m submitting, to where, how, and when – totally for the better.

Lauren Garretson: Working on the editorial team for Virginia Tech’s minnesota review this past issue has been a really worthwhile experience. Not only did I get the experience of being a fiction editor— and learning the ins and outs of what that entails— but seeing the submission process from the other side got me thinking about my own methods for sending out my work. Going through thousands of short stories and flash pieces over the course of the past few months has showed me what/what not to express in a cover-letter, how to separate myself from the rest of a slush pile, and to do my research on the journals I submit to. The last one may seem intuitive, but seeing a number of folks submitting work that fell outside our guidelines has me doing a much more thorough job of looking into the journals I submit to— what are their guidelines, their tastes, what type of writing have they historically favored? It’s an incredibly important, if a little understated/underestimated part of the process. I haven’t submitted a whole lot of my own work for consideration to magazines and journals, but after this experience I genuinely feel encouraged to. Participating in the behind-the-scenes world of the literary journal has ultimately demystified the process and made it less intimidating.

Kira Homsher: As a writer, reading and editing for the minnesota review made me a lot more aware of some of the blunders I had been making as a submitter. I got a better sense of some of the mistakes (in terms of content, style, titles, and cover letters) readers see a lot of, and now feel a lot more confident about my own submission process.

Sonya Lara: My favorite part of working on the minnesota review was seeing the impact of the authors’ stories and poems on the class and the discussions that would ensue based off the writing.

Ashieda McKoy: When writing your submission cover letter, please let it be authentic and informative instead of overly clever and/or mysterious. There is nothing worse than getting a cover letter that felt thoughtless or flippant. From one fellow hot-mess to another, let’s get these cover letters together!

Uche Okonkow: I gained a lot from the publishing mini-lessons and the guest speakers. I particularly appreciated the range and variation of the speakers: we heard from an agent, a children’s book author, a bookseller/poet, and a multi-genre author and playwright. The publishing mini-lessons had me thinking about the wider considerations of the industry, including ethical quandaries that artists face. Also, it was a delight coming up with ideas for posts for the minnesota review‘s blog, and making connections with the editor and author that I interviewed.

Mirna Palacio-Ornales: Logistics can sometimes bog you down, but then that spark of enthusiasm and energy hits again and I remember that we’re doing this job because we’re invested in other writers and the curation of putting issues together. There’s a certain joy you get when defending some of your favorite pieces in front of others.

Taylor Portela: Reading submissions was my favorite part of the process – seeing what was on the minds of writers, what themes kept cropping up, and what unique experiences people felt called to write about and imagine more fully. It was almost magical, drawing connections in theme and narrative between disparate writers as we put together the issue. There is a solidarity in the work we’re attempting as writers, and getting a wider view of what’s happening now is challenging, refreshing, and inspiring.

Here’s to 2020!


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