Ploughshares is a literary magazine that was first created by DeWitt Henry and Peter O’Malley in 1970. The idea for the magazine was thought up in a bar in Cambridge, MA called Plough Stars. The magazine was created in hopes of creating a literary outlet for young writers in the New England area. Today, the magazine is run out of Emerson college. Ploughshares currently published four issues a year, and has a guest editor for each issue. Previous writers featured include Tim O’Brien, Richard Yates, and Brian Moore.
How did you become interested in becoming an editor? What was your first job in the editing community, and how did you end up working for Ploughshares?
I started working in publishing when I was still in high school. I worked in the editorial and production department of a small town newspaper and wrote a column and reviews. Initially I was more interested in writing, but that job spawned my love of publishing. When I was a sophomore at Emerson College, majoring in writing, literature, and publishing, I co-founded a lifestyle magazine for Emerson College students. As editor-in-chief, I was in charge of everything, which gave me a great introduction to all of the jobs in magazine publishing beyond the editorial side.
After I graduated with my BA, I worked for a writer who was working on a non-fiction book, and a screenplay based on the same story. I was doing mostly developmental editing. After doing that for about a year, I was invited to apply for the job at Ploughshares after some professors I had worked with while at Emerson recommended me to the EIC, based on the work I had done on the lifestyle magazine.
[Since I’ve been at Ploughshares, I’ve also earned a MA in Integrated Marketing Communication.]
As managing editor, what are your main responsibilities at the magazine? What is your favorite part of the job?
I’m the managing editor/managing director, and my job is mostly managing: editorial flow, production, marketing, circulation, staff, distribution, the website and blog, and lots of other odds and ends. I do very little actual editing!
Who has your favorite guest editor of the magazine been?
Definitely Jim Shepard, because his particular style of writing is the kind of writing I’m most drawn to and I loved every single story he selected. All of the guest editors have been fabulous to work with!
What is the submission process for the magazine? Are there reading boards, if so, about how many people read each piece before it is picked to be published? What do you look for most in a good piece of prose? Form? Content? Good writing? Uniqueness?
Since I don’t do any reading for the magazine, I’ll let this blog post explain the process (it goes into how reading works too): http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/behind-the-scenes-at-ploughshares/
[FYI, Andrea Drygas is my married name – this was published before I was married.]
What are the future goals of Ploughshares? Where do you hope to take the magazine as managing editor?
My goals mainly have to do with increasing our circulation and our visibility. I’d like to continue to expand our reach with digital publications (Ploughshares Solos, digital-only single stories; digitizing back issues), and expand the audience for our print publication.
What advice do you have for undergraduate students hoping to get into the editing and publishing world?
I think the most important thing undergraduate students can do is get involved in student publications and also get experience working in the real world, either through internships or jobs. Don’t focus too narrowly on one thing at this stage, because you never know what kind o