Our Editorial Process
The Polyphony Lit Editorial Staff, comprised of volunteer high school students from all over the world, provides editorial feedback to every submission we receive and decides which pieces are accepted for publication in our annual print volume. Each piece is read and commented on by a First Reader, a Second Reader, and a Genre Editor. The final decision on publication is made by either an Executive Editor or an Editor-in-Chief. At the conclusion of the editing cycle, editorial comments are compiled and sent directly to the submitter. As we are a training program for editors, editors also receive feedback on their commentary from other editors. Comments and publication notifications are generally completed within ten weeks of submission.
The entry-level position at Polyphony Lit is First Reader, who is the first to read the poetry, fiction, and literary nonfiction submitted to us.
After reading the piece, the First Reader writes specific and general comments about the piece, recommends “accept” or “reject,” and forwards the submission back to the Managing Editor. First Readers receive feedback on their commentary from other editors as the piece moves along the editorial pipeline.
Second Readers review both the submission and the First Reader Comments and then also make an accept/reject recommendation.
A critical distinction between First and Second readers is that Second Readers are responsible for reading and editing the comments of the First Readers. They review First Reader comments for tone, content, grammar, and mechanics, provide feedback on that editorial commentary directly to the First Reader, and provide the Managing Editor with additional information about the effectiveness of the First Reader’s commentary
Playing a prominent role in deciding whether submissions are finally accepted or rejected, Genre Editors shape the final message to the author, provide evaluative feedback directly to the First and Second Readers who have already acted on the submission, and provide feedback to the Managing Editor on the editorial comments of First and Second Readers.
Final review happens with the Executive Editors. They read the submission, edit the comments of the First Reader, Second Reader, and Genre Editor, write a two to three sentence general commentary to the author, and make the final decision about acceptance or rejection. If the piece is accepted, they write an editorial comment to be published alongside the piece for our print volume. We believe the most important responsibility of the Executive Editor is to ensure all feedback to writers adheres to our editing philosophy, which strongly emphasizes tone and content that are encouraging and useful to young writers.
Due to the large number of submissions, we have at least two Editors-in-Chief (EIC).
Responsibilities of the EIC are based on the expertise of the students serving as EIC. In general, the EIC have final approval of final actions and commentary that go back to the writers. The EIC work on editorial promotions, recommending to the Managing Editor which Readers/Editors demonstrate skills and commitment deserving of promotion.
The EIC help shape editorial policy as well. Their daily attention to submissions allows them a close look at the day-to-day operations of the magazine. It is this close attention that puts them in good position to shape editorial policy and to notice potential inconsistencies, insufficiencies, or other inadequacies in editorial feedback. Their feedback to the managing editor often equips us to respond more effectively and efficiently to our authors.
Finally, the EIC take an active role in preparing our print volume for publication, including writing a foreward letter for the volume.
Since our founding, billy lombardo has served as Managing Editor. The only non-student position on the editorial staff, he oversees the editorial staff, submissions and the editorial workflow. He forwards submissions to Readers/Editors, and is ultimately responsible for the final correspondence with authors. The Managing Editor also gives feedback to Readers/Editors regarding their commentary and oversees editorial policy. Billy is responsible for directing our “How to Be a Literary Editor” Workshops. For our annual print volume, billy communicates with authors for bios and permissions, oversees the layout of the magazine, and editing galleys.