I think all writers strive to reach the place where rejections don’t even register anymore, but it’s not an easy place to get to. As a writer, one of the biggest benefits of working for Epoch Press has been how it has demystified the whole process of journal and magazine selection. If you’re an artist who is anything like me, then submitting is a process that is fraught with anxiety. So, we at Epoch have decided that transparency is the best policy and following this, you’ll find an extensive breakdown on how we review and accept pieces.
- Author submits their work during our open window, with the proper format and adhering to our submission guidelines
- Submission document is anonymised – this is why we request separate documents for each submission
- Submission document is uploaded, along with all other submissions from that same week, into a Google Docs drive for Round 1 review:
Round 1 (Duration: 1 week)
A small group (5-10) of anonymous editors have one week to go through this first round, in which they verify that each submission: 1) fits clearly within the theme of that issue; 2) would not require major edits in order to publish – simply because we don’t have the time to do so; and 3) fits with our ethos and morals at Epoch Press. This round is not about opinion or feeling, and most pieces go on to further review, but those that do not then receive a rejection letter with basic feedback.
- If submission passes to Round 2:
Round 2 (Duration: 1 week)
All active editors for the current issue (typically between 15-25) have one week to anonymously review submissions. Here, we review each piece on a 6 point system: 1) 0-2 for Writing Quality; 2) 0-2 for Purpose and Meaning; and 3) 0-2 for Overall Impact. Additionally, we have extensive Review Guidelines to flesh out the nuances of these categories. Note that we only look for a piece to have grammar and syntax that is easily read and understood; we purposefully aim to avoid gatekeeping and believe that literature in English is enriched by the voices of many dialects, cultures, and languages.
Submissions with at least 5 points progress to Round 3.
At this stage, if a submission does particularly well (such as 2s in every category from each of our editors), we may consider the piece for early acceptance. The Editor-in-Chief holds a vote, and if editors unanimously agree the submission is awarded Early Acceptance. However, if concerns are raised, the submission progresses to Round 3 like normal, for further discussion. Note: Early Acceptances from Round 2 are rare.
- If submission passes to Round 3:
Round 3 (Duration: 1 Week)
All editors have one week to anonymously discuss their remarks concerning each submission and to provide a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote. Votes are subject to change throughout the review period, however, due to editor dialogue within their comments and/or subsequent re-readings. Discussions at this stage often clarify what we love about a submission, or what we believe needs to be adjusted before it can be considered for publication in Epoch. We don’t always agree, so there’s plenty to suss out at this stage.
A piece may warrant Early Acceptance at this stage as well, if the general feedback is overwhelmingly positive and/or editors nominate a submission in their remarks. A vote is held, and if all editors agree then the submission is awarded an early acceptance. Note: Early Acceptances from Round 3 are uncommon.
- Piece becomes a finalist:
Final Vote & Featured Story Selection
This is our shortlist for each issue. After all of our submissions have been reviewed in every round, we hold a vote where each editor selects the submissions they would choose for publication. After tallying the votes, we sort submissions into a list from highest votes to lowest and determine final acceptances – with consideration for our budget and page restrictions.
Of the accepted submissions, we choose five with the most editorial votes and hold a final vote to determine our ‘Featured’ story.
- Once a piece is accepted, our copyeditor goes over the piece and we send our suggested edits to the contributor along with their publishing agreement and details for payment.
That is it. We run with quite a large staff of editors compared to other journals, but in this, we hope to bring authentic and varied voices to print. We hope that by being multi-national, multi-lingual, multi-racial, multi-gendered, and multi-cultural we are able to consistently check bias in our selection process.