Codex Q&A: How do stories progress through the slush system?

In July 2013, I served as the “editor-in-residence” for the Codex Writing Group, which meant basically I was asking a month-long AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) interview. With Codex’s permission, I’m re-posting the Q&As here on my blog. The questions were all provided by members of Codex.


I’m interested in how the editorial process works at Lightspeed. For example: Do you have a big pool of slushers? How do stories progress through the system?

We do have a pretty big team of slush readers; the idea is that by having more on staff, it means that more attention can be devoted to each submission, and there’s less pressure on the readers to plow through everything. And if we’re going to keep to our goal of a 2-day turnaround, we need to have a large team just so the slush process can be flexible for the readers–not everyone has free time to devote every day, of course.

How our system works is:

All the stories come into the submission system and display in the order they are received.

A reader can login to the system and “claim” a submission, to let other readers know to work on something else.

Once the reader has read the submission, they process it by leaving a comment for me explaining what they thought of it and also assigning it a numerical rating on a scale of 1-10.

A score of 6 or higher makes the story a “Recommended,” meaning it goes into my reading pile and I’ll take a look at it. A rating of 5 or lower means that it’s not quite good enough; such stories I may or may not look at, depending on the reader’s comments and/or the author. There are a lot of authors I’ll look at their stories no matter what the reader says about it, just because I’ve read other good stuff by that author, etc.

I send out all the rejection letters myself, so a slush reader can’t accidentally reject something I wanted to look at. It takes a little extra time on my part to handle it that way, but it’s a good safeguard against anything being rejected by mistake.



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