The editors note of the second issue of volume 15 of River Teeth reveals a very important process for the editors: how they accept work and find work that will uphold their standards. The editors and readers “peruse every one of the more than a thousand unsolicited manuscripts that come [their] way each year—even though [they] know [they] can accept only about ten or twelve of them,” writes Dan Lehman. “We root for each and every submission, hoping to find not only the perfect piece by a great writer whom we already love, but, as has happened, the fledgling writer whose first published piece will appear in River Teeth and will snare a Pushcart for the writer and for us.”
So where do the rest of the pieces that make up the issues come from? The editors travel to conferences and workshops and search websites for pieces they know they just have to have. “If we hear something that is great, we go for it. Right then. We don’t suffer a turn-down easily. Something about our enthusiasm for a piece, and about our vision for the journal and what we do, has convinced writers who otherwise don’t owe us the time of day to take a shot with River Teeth,” Lehman writes. Here’s what he has to say about selecting pieces:
“At heart we always ask two questions: Is this the sort of piece I would want to call the other editor in the middle of the night to say we have to have? And would we die if we saw this piece in someone else’s journal and knew we could have had it for ourselves? Those are the criteria, nothing else really. As we wrote a few issues ago, we will publish the work of friends and acquaintances (even ourselves) if it meets those standards. Only then. That’s all. That our two Best American essays come from writers with close ties makes our case. Both were among the best dozen or so essays in this or any other year; it would have killed us to see them win those prizes for someone else. And we confessed that fact in writing before the prizes were won.
“We know all this sounds more than a little intuitive, even presumptuous, and quite a bit less than arm’s length. That’s the nature of love, we guess.”
Check out more from the editors note and see what’s in stock of this issue here.