Here we explain the process of publishing an article in Third Factor, from your original pitch to our editor through the article’s publication and beyond.
We welcome both novices and more experienced writers, though we only pay for articles that show a certain level of writing experience. There’s more about this two-tier system here. This system is temporary: we hope eventually to be able to pay all contributors for high-quality pieces, but we’re not quite there yet, so this is a stop-gap measure.
Don’t hesitate to contact us with questions if something isn’t clear.
Pitching an Article
To start the process, please send us a pitch (also known as a query letter) in the form of a short paragraph and/or outline describing your idea. This should be no more than 250 words.
Your pitch should explain why you think this article is a match for our creative, gifted, or intense readers. (You may be surprised how many pitches we get from people who obviously have no idea what Third Factor is about. You’re obviously not one of those people because you’re reading this page, so make sure you signal this to us.) For more on what we’re looking for, take a look at our mission.
You should include a rough estimate of the word count you’re envisioning. Good writing should, of course, be precisely as short or as long as it needs to be, and it’s okay if the word count changes as you write. If you’re envisioning a piece over 3,500 words from the get-go, we might opt to publish it in a two-part series or suggest that you break it into separate articles, though we can be flexible about this.
Please also specify either that you’re offering your piece as a donation, or propose a fair price for your work.
- The donation track is intended for contributors who either (a.) are paid a salary that covers the time spent writing, thereby allowing writers to donate their work (e.g., academics), or (b.) those with minimal writing experience who have a story to share but need assistance crafting a magazine quality piece. We will budget more time to work with these writers and will publish the piece when it’s ready. We encourage less experienced writers to have a friend or two read your piece before you submit it to us and address any suggestions they might have.
- If you’re seeking to participate through our professional tier, it’s helpful but not required to have a sample of previous work to demonstrate your skills. If we like what we see, we will send you a contract and ask that you adhere to a deadline to deliver a high quality piece.
- We generally offer $25 for a first-time professional-quality piece and will consider higher rates for pieces that require in-depth research. Don’t hesitate to mention your plans for research in your pitch.
Occasionally, we’ve received full drafts written on spec, i.e., submitted to us as completed documents. We’re grateful for such enthusiasm and may accept these at the professional level if they’re of sufficient quality. If you have less experience, we’ve found that it’s generally easier for us to agree on a framework for the content before you go to the trouble of writing it, particularly if you’re writing it with our publication specifically in mind. This ultimately is less work for you and for us that way.
After We Accept Your Pitch
First, regardless of whether you are donating or being paid for your piece, we’ll give you a contract to sign and send back to us. Please review this to make sure you’re okay with the terms, which cover how we may use your work and will generally ask that you not reuse work that we have worked with you to develop without clearing it with us.
Then we’ll talk deadlines. If we’re paying you, we’ll give you a deadline for a first draft and for the final piece and ask that you do your best to meet this; payment is contingent upon delivery of the piece on time (or with reasonable notice if you must be late; we know life happens). If your piece is a donation, we’ll still give you a deadline, but the piece may be bumped back to a later issue if it needs more work (at either your or our discretion). Either way, please be prepared to work on revisions during the 2-3 weeks ahead of the final deadline.
Once we get your draft, we’ll respond with edits as tracked changes in a LibreOffice document (compatible with Microsoft Word) or a Google Doc, per your preference. Ideally, these edits will be focused on tightening your message. There are often additional rounds of edits. We’re happy to arrange Skype conversations to discuss the piece. You are not required to accept all of our editorial team’s proposed changes—it is your piece and will have your name on it—but if you don’t accept them, you should be prepared to explain why you don’t want to change something and propose an alternate way to address the editor’s comments. If you simply disregard them without communicating with us, this will slow down the process and may result in your piece being delayed or cancelled. Payment for professional-grade pieces will be issued upon successful publication of the piece.
Please also bear in mind that we currently have a very small team, and we will be juggling a lot ahead of each issue’s publication. If you don’t hear back from us right away, please be patient. We are likely engaging deeply with another contributor, and will engage deeply with you in turn. (Have any editorial skills yourself? We’re still looking for others interested in developing those skills who might like to join our editorial team.) If it’s been a while, it’s okay to email us just to check in and make sure we haven’t dropped the ball, though.
Once your piece is published, we will promote it via social media. We encourage (but do not require) authors to engage with readers via Facebook or Twitter when we publicize your work.
Have questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out.