Editors' Blog

A Quick Guide to Formatting Manuscripts for Choeofpleirn Press

May 10, 2023


We know it can be annoying when literary magazines have unique manuscript requirements. We get it. So please realize that what follows helps us if and when we choose to publish your manuscripts. Time saved for us means we have more time to read more manuscripts.


1.       Double-spacing is unnecessary. While it is traditional to double-space manuscripts for submission, such a convention was only necessary when editors wanted to handwrite comments between lines, so the tradition is no longer important or necessary. For us, it just becomes another thing about your manuscript we have to change.

2.      Use only embeddable fonts. Embedding fonts is vital for publication programming, otherwise fonts change and print can actually warp and move differently across a page as it migrates from computer to computer—even if those computers are using the exact same word processing programming. Since the Almighty Windows does not allow all fonts to embed in Word, which is the programming we use to format our magazines and books, we ask that you avoid using old fonts like Times New Roman and Arial. We prefer easy to read serif fonts like Georgia or Garamond, both of which embed nicely. Realize that, if you create unique poetry using word shapes, you must embed your fonts to ensure that the design you create translates to other computers. Here’s how: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/benefits-of-embedding-custom-fonts-cb3982aa-ea76-4323-b008-86670f222dbc.

3.      Separate poems and chapters with page breaks. Do not use page breaks in the middle of long poems or the latter half of the poem might not get published.

4.      Be conscious of line lengths in poetry. Every magazine and book has to have a mirror margin with a gutter—meaning that the part of the book bound together to forma spine has to be accounted for, which means most manuscripts get shoved to one side by about half an inch. If your longest line of a poem stretches all the way across the page, that will either mean we will have to put part of the line below or shrink the whole poem to fit it on the page, especially if you are trying to create a specific pattern in the poem.

5.      Use Increase Indent on short poems. Realize that short lines shoved to the left look sparse and often uninviting, so don’t be afraid to use the Increase Indent tool in Paragraphing to move the whole poem over an inch or so.

6.      Inspect your document. Unbeknownst to most writers, we can perform archeology on your texts by displaying Formatting marks. The tiny circles that denote spaces show the age of your text because the most recent Word just uses dots. We highly recommend inspecting your own manuscripts before you send them for potential publication because it allows you to change old manuscript formatting marks, which tell an editor that you have been working on a manuscript for a long time. Here is how to display formatting marks on your works, so you can eliminate unnecessary spacing (which is the bane of publishing editors everywhere): https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/show-or-hide-tab-marks-in-word-84a53213-5d02-404a-b022-09cae1a3958b Make certain you show everything, from spaces to paragraph marks and any hidden text; the easiest way is to select “Show all formatting marks.”

March 11, 2022

Pasting up the magazines is probably my favorite part of editing four annual literary journals.


We’re currently working on Coneflower Café, Spring 2022. As fiction editor, I had to read 50 stories to decide which ones to print. We narrowed it down to 14, but then one writer informed us she had her story accepted elsewhere. That news was not surprising, since it was one of the three strongest stories we received this year, but we still have a few others that are strong, one of which I believe could become as important to American literature as “The Yellow Wallpaper” has been.


The paste up process is actually quite complex. I start with one Word file of all the stories in it, and go through them with a fine tooth comb because all kinds of wonky editing ends up in some stories that have obviously had many iterations, some of which leave behind evidence of some of their earlier Word formations. This part is kind of like archaeology because my Show Editing Marks feature of Word 365 uncovers spacing differences from more recent and some very old (in computing years) programming. I have to eliminate any old word processing mark ups and replace them with 365 ones in order to prevent the program from going rogue once I save it as a pdf file for publishing.


Once I have excavated all the fiction, I add the Contributors’ Notes pages, which also requires a lot of fine tuning, since some writers’ biographies definitely show old programming code, since most simply build onto their old biographies each time they submit.


Then I add the poetry and artworks. The poetry is a whole new dig because some poets like fancy indentations, but I can actually tell how old some parts of some poems are by their editing mark ups, so I get a glimpse into the writing process of many of the poets—learning what parts they started with that they kept in later revisions.


The artworks are usually more straightforward to add, but Word can get tricky with them, especially if I put a photo of a piece on the same page as a poem or the end of a story, which I have done more often in this issue, simply because we have SO MUCH to include in it. In looking at our first full draft of the magazine this morning, one photo went cockeyed on us, so I have to find out why it did that.


My next step is to create a Contents page. I will end up creating two different versions because the first draft is for the print-on-demand programming at Amazon KDP, which is fickle, but this Contents page has to include actual page numbers, since this version of the magazine will be printed for those who buy it. Making certain the page numbers on the Contents page stay the same as I upload to KDP is the biggest issue with their programming, since it often adds blank pages, and sometimes stretches out works that only take up one page to two, all of which changes the page numbers within the work, so that the Contents page numbers do not match up.


After I get our draft of the magazine uploaded and accepted by the KDP programming, we have to wait two weeks to get our proof copies from Amazon to make certain nothing drastic has changed.


During that time, I convert the magazine from a print book into an ebook, which means creating hot links from the title of the work on the Contents page that will take readers directly to the work within the magazine. All of our contributors get free copies of the ebook of the magazine in which they appear as our small way of thanking them for contributing to our press. We also sell the ebook version of each magazine on this website.


Once both versions of each magazine is complete, I email all of our contributors to give them their free editions and to provide the link to the Amazon book, since many of them prefer print copies to ebooks. We try our best to keep each print-on-demand copy of our magazines to less than $25, but please realize that our press only makes about $1.50 out of each magazine sale on Amazon, although it still seems to be the best venue for getting our magazines out to the world.


While the process has many steps, I still cannot believe my job is to work with so many great creators--writers, artists, and photographers, and I look forward to introducing our new fiction—either a collection of short fiction or a novel—contest later this year.

Cheers, Ruth

November 20, 2021

We have had a busy month. 

Once the finalists and winners were determined for our five creative awards, we were able to put together our final literary journal of the year, The Best of Choeofpleirn Press, which is now on sale through our Bookstore tab and on Amazon as a print-on-demant paperback, which looks great (if we do say so ourselves) as a coffee table book to stimulate conversations about the various works included.

Winners and finalists for the five Awards are also listed in the Bookstore tab, so be certain to take a look.

Then we had to decide which six works were the best pieces of literature that we could nominate for the coveted Pushcart Prize in literature. Unfortunately, the Pushcart does not recognize drama as a category of literature yet, but we nominated the following works for the best literary quality works we published this year in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction:


My Daughter’s New Life, Gary Metras (Glacial Hills Review)

My Second Class in Prison, Diane Kendig (Coneflower Café)


Short Fiction

Affirmative Action, Richard Marranca (Coneflower Café)

Sandals in the Snow, Madeline Wise (Coneflower Café)



The Cat’s Pajamas, David P. Anderson (Glacial Hills Review)

I Don’t Play the Viola Anymore, Lauren Skaggs (Glacial Hills Review)

While only two of these works were not considered in our creative contests for the Best of Choeofpleirn Press 2021, the rest were, so we feel honored to have had such great works of literature sent to us for consideration for publication this year.

We are already looking forward to 2022 and our first poetry chapbook contest, and are ruminating about when to add a short fiction collection contest to the mix.

We both hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season. Keep writing!

Cheers, Ruth and James

Co-editors, Choeofpleirn Press


October 22, 2021

Since we do not qualify for grants given to small presses because we began as an LLC, we are currently jumping through the necessary hoops to become a non-profit literary press.

We are also finalizing the awards for the five creative categories, but we have a tie for poetry, so might end up giving out two awards for the top two poems.

All going well, we will be able to announce the results to the winners by November 10th, and send out checks soon after.

We have also added the lists of contributors below each literary journal in the Bookstore, just in case you or your friends are looking for a particular creator's works.

Whatever you do, keep writing!

Cheers, Ruth



September 30, 2021

Ten plays and one screenplay were published in our Autumn 2021 issue of Rushing Thru the Dark.

Formatting plays is almost completely opposite of how screenplays are formatted, supposedly so professionals in those fields can easily recognize one from the other. However, the complex formatting delayed our production of the magazine by approximately a week.

Coupled with some poems that had some strange formats themselves, this literary magazine was more of an aesthetic challenge than the first two magazines.

We have learned so much about putting together a gorgeous printed magazine. All (Coneflower Cafe, Glacial Hills Review, and Rushing Thru the Dark) are available through Amazon as print-on-demand books, which really highlights the intense colors in some of the artwork. While we try to keep the print-on-demand copies as affordable as possible (around $25), that usually means we make less than a $1 off of each Amazon sale because of the high costs of printing these days.

So we also work really hard to create the ebook version of our magazines, so that they are also attractive and easily navigable, not to mention highly affordable at $6 per issue through our website's Bookstore.

Once we know who has won in each creative category, we can begin pasting up our final issue for the year, The Best of Choeofpleirn Press, Winter 2021. The poetry judge has many poems to consider, but we hope to know soon.

Thank you for your interest in Choeofpleirn Press' literary magazines! Keep reading and writing!

Cheers, Ruth

Drama Editor


July 6, 2021

In addition to advertising in Poets & Writers and on Facebook and Twitter when we started soliciting work for Coneflower Café, we wrote many of the universities and colleges in the Great Plains and Midwest, targeting the graduate students in English and creative writing. Originally, I was thinking that Coneflower Café may be more of a regional journal.

Only a few submissions came from Oklahoma and Kansas. To our surprise, we began getting submissions from New England, California, and North Carolina. The graduate students we targeted apparently didn’t want to submit their work to a young journal because of our lack of prestige.

All total, twenty-eight poets appeared in Coneflower Café, seventeen of whom have published one or more collections of poetry. Brian Daldorph, one representative poet,  edits his own magazine, Coal City Review.  Carol Hamilton has published widely and has poems in many other journals. 

Seven fiction writers appeared in Coneflower Café, five of whom have published books.  Daniel Coshnear’s latest fiction collection, Separation Anxiety, will be published in October of this year. Eleanor Lerman’s most recent novel, Watkins Glen, was published in June. Each one of our fiction writers is widely published.

We were pleasantly surprised at the quality of work, both poetry and fiction, submitted to Coneflower Café. We didn’t know what to expect as a journal just opening its doors. We were also happy to see that some of the writers who appeared in Coneflower Café thought enough of our press to submit to Glacial Hills Review, our summer journal.

We have since expanded where we advertise by joining CLMP and adding a call for submissions there for our autumn journal, Rushing Thru the Dark

I look forward to the remaining journals that we will publish this year. 

James P. Cooper, Co-editor


June 30, 2021

Half a year gone. But what a great demi-year it has been!

As planned, we launched Choeofpleirn Press in August 2020. As college English professors, writers, and editors, we want to encourage all writers to produce their best work, and we chose starting a small, private literary press to help us accomplish that goal.

The only advertising we did for our new press was through Poets & Writers and Facebook, but we still ended up with many great story, poetry, and art submissions for our premier issue of Coneflower Cafe. As writers, we hate not hearing back from potential publishers for ages, so we did our best to promptly review, select, and respond to the works that were submitted, publishing our first literary journal on March 11, 2021.

Similarly, we received many interesting works of poetry, nonfiction, and art for our premier issue of the Glacial Hills Review, which we published earlier this month on June 12, 2021.

We have already received several one-act plays and a couple of screenplays for Rushing Thru the Dark, which will appear in early September, 2021.

The only real error we have made along this journey is not realizing we needed ISSN numbers for each magazine. Instead, we thought we had to use ISBN numbers, which we now know are reserved for books--one-off publications, instead of serial publications. Had we known, we would have saved ourselves $250 because ISBN numbers cost $125 each, but ISSN numbers are free through the Library of Congress.

Once we learned we should be have ISSN numbers for each annual journal, we looked back over the many journals we have worked for over the last 30+ years and saw that most only used ISSN numbers occasionally, a mystery we are not likely to crack. The only reasonable rationale is that ISSN numbers were not invented until the 1970s, and, even though I was the person responsible for copyrighting each issue of the Kansas Quarterly in the early 1980s, for instance, the magazine apparently was not assigned an ISSN number until after my tenure with the journal.

We live and we learn. Possibly the reason we live is to share the wisdom we learn along the way.

Whatever you do, keep writing!

Ruth J. Heflin, Co-Editor