I’m often asked about the process of reading, replying to, and scheduling submitted work. Here are the details.
The publication schedule
Empty Mirror is published every Friday — fifty-two times a year. Although unnumbered, each weekly publication is considered to comprise one issue. Submissions are accepted continuously.
Most Fridays, EM usually publishes 3-6 features — a combination of poetry, essays, book reviews, and art.
Currently, I’m scheduling up to 3 months in advance. So, that’s about 12 issues that are in the planning stages at once.
Literary and art news is published as it’s received and as time permits.
Weekly reading schedule
There’s no staff. I’m the only one here, and it’s been that way since 2000. Empty Mirror is a labor of love; it’s the work I’m most proud of. But it doesn’t even pay for itself (want to help?).
Because I have a day job and family obligations, I usually respond to submissions and emails to Empty Mirror on days off, every week or two. Occasionally, I reply to some on weekdays, as time allows, in between work and family obligations. I often check in on Empty Mirror’s Twitter account while on breaks. It may be a while before I can answer an email.
Despite my best efforts, some weeks life intervenes and I can’t get to submissions at all.
I do the best I can.
Reading and decisions
Each submitted work is read carefully — and often twice or more. Once I’ve made a preliminary decision, I’ll assign a label to the work: yes, no, possibly.
I consider each week’s publication to be a distinct issue. Scheduling isn’t haphazard; for each issue, I choose 3 features — usually poetry, art, and nonfiction — that I think will complement each other in some way. Sometimes reviews are scheduled close to the book’s publication day.
I reply to each submission as soon as possible; it can take from within a day up to several months. There are up to about 12 issues or so being planned at once (3 months worth). Sometimes a slow response is because I like the work but am not yet certain if it will find a place in a future issue. Often it’s because I plan to publish it but am not yet certain of the publication date. I don’t send an acceptance email until I know the date that the work will be published.
I usually send responses to essay, criticism, review, and art submissions within four weeks, often sooner. Replies to poetry submissions can take anywhere from a day up to three months.
I’ll send an email to notify you of your work’s acceptance and the scheduled publication date. This date could be anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months out.
The acceptance email isn’t sent until there’s a publication date scheduled.
If your work is declined, don’t take it to heart! It’s not personal.
There are many reasons work might not be accepted. It could be that the topic or style isn’t a good fit for EM, or that it’s similar to something else we’ve recently published or have planned. My goal is to present an interesting mix of styles, poets, and points of view. It could be that I liked it but just didn’t feel strongly enough about it.
Or — and this happens a lot — it could be that we don’t have the time/space to publish it. Since EM’s format is very limited, much more good work is received than can be published. I also often read work that I personally like but that isn’t a good fit for Empty Mirror at the moment. Empty Mirror isn’t just “things Denise likes” — it has its own needs and direction. EM’s format is limited to just one poetry feature per week, and I have to make a lot of difficult decisions.
If your submission is declined with a note that I’d like to see more in the future, believe it! Send more! (And even without an invitation, you can still submit more!)
After I’ve accepted your work, I’ll create a contributor page for you at Empty Mirror, adding your bio and linking to any books, social accounts, or websites you’ve provided. If you’ve told me your Twitter username, I’ll follow you. I’ll also add you to the Empty Mirror contributors list, which is usually the first thing I look at on Twitter every day.
Then, I’ll format your work and create the web page. I’ll also source and resize images if necessary. A large, custom, featured image which will accompany your title on our homepage, on the archive pages, on social media will be created. It also may be shown on your feature’s webpage.
Total time spent on each feature after acceptance ranges from about forty-five minutes up to six hours or more.
Empty Mirror is published each Friday at midnight Pacific time. You’ll receive an automatic email notification when your work has been published.
I’ll also share your feature on Twitter and Facebook. (I hope you’ll share the news on your own social accounts and on your website as well.)
So, that’s what goes into getting an issue (or 12 of them) online. Is there something I didn’t cover? Please leave a comment below or email me!