I’ve been thinking about that question, the one that plagues writers everywhere and fuels an internet full of blogs, articles, and writer’s help pages (not to mention a few scammy websites). 
How do editors choose which stories and poems to publish?

It seems the answers given are at best problematic and more often formulaic and unhelpful. There is no set list of dos and don’ts, though every book, blog or magazine homepage on the topic will happily throw them at you.

There is no magic formula or guarantee. The truth is simpler, and perhaps more discouraging.

Editors choose what they like.

Not necessarily the best, or most artfully crafted, or the most meticulous with their grammar. You could write a masterpiece, but it won’t be published unless the editor who reads it enjoys it. And even if the magazine explicitly states NO ELVES or we’ll club you to death with The Silmarillion, if it’s a really good story about elves that made the editor smile, chances are it’ll go in. (Not that we’re encouraging you . . . please, NO ELVES.)

The editor is never wrong. Why? Because it’s their magazine, for stories and poems that they like. Of course, at the bigger magazines and publishing houses you have a better chance of someone in the team liking it. But at the smaller ones you have a better chance of your work being placed amongst like-minded people and complimentary styles and stories. My advice – try both! And never be discouraged. What one person hates, another can’t get enough of. And there are enough weird people in the world to cater for any niche or subversive style (well, have you read Polluto?)
I realise this ‘advice’ is irritatingly vague. So I had an idea. Why not actually explain how and why real published stories and poems were chosen? Rather than a pointless list of ‘things that editors hate’, why not show you what editors really like? So, in my next blog, I’ll pick two of my favourite stories or poems featured in Polluto, and explain what we liked about them, what impressed or amazed us, what sparked our imaginations, what made us say yes.