by Lindsey Lucas
Submitting work is a scary process. It means putting the products of your time and effort out into the world to fend for themselves like baby birds leaving the nest for the first time… and the process is especially daunting when you find yourself wondering what it is the editor wants, exactly.
During our Wednesday staff meeting, we talked about the relationship that should exist between an author and their editor. We had all read part of Betsy Lerner’s book The Forest for the Trees—Chapter 9 is called “What Editors Want.” While Lerner mostly speaks of the competitive world of big book publishing, her ideas of the author/editor relationship can apply to anyone, even the staff of an undergraduate literary journal.
The question “what do editors want?” is difficult to answer, because editors want many things. Editors want “silver to polish;” work that is already good and can be made great. Editors want to land the next great novel. Editors want projects that will reward the time that is put into them, launching careers and making money for their publishing house.
What we decided in the end, though, comes back to that relationship between the editor and the author. While there are lots of career goals editors may be aiming for, they know they are almost impossible to accomplish without the right authors. The process that editors go through between finding work they want and actually publishing it is where this author/editor relationship comes into play. Editors want authors who are able to work in tandem with the editor to make their best work better.
For us at The Mochila Review, this means that our main job as editors is to work with our authors. Our goal is to help undergraduate writers fully realize the potential in their own work and get their best writing published. We hope that by aiming to put together a great literary journal, we can build working relationships with writers at the start of their careers and help them get started on their writing journey.