Interested in sharing your thoughts and experiences in Third Factor? Great! We’d love to hear from you. In addition to experienced writers, we also welcome inexperienced authors who want to give storytelling a shot, and we’re happy to work with you to develop your ideas.
Here’s what the process will be, from your original pitch to our editor through the article’s publication and beyond.
We know this page is long, but please read it carefully to ensure you know what to expect.
Pitching an Article
To start the process, please send a query letter to editor at thirdfactor dot org (or use our contact form) in the form of a short paragraph or outline describing your idea. This should be no more than 250 words. We suggest leading with a one-sentence summary of your key argument.
Your pitch should explain why you think this article is a match for our 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.
Do please make your full thesis or argument clear in your pitch. Don’t send us a teaser—tell us the bottom line of what you’ll want readers to take away. Take care not to rely on buzzwords (e.g, “mental health,” “social justice,” “well being,” et cetera), as specifics are what catch our attention.
Include a rough estimate of the word count you envision for your piece. 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. For pieces over 3,500 words, we will typically break them into multi-part pieces.
Please also specify if you’re offering your piece as a donation or if you would like to ask for more than our base starting rate of $35.
- 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, 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.
- Our rates begin at $35 for a first-time professional-quality piece and will offer higher rates for outstanding pieces, work by experts, or articles that require in-depth research. Don’t hesitate to mention your plans for research in your pitch. We recognize that this is below market rate. We don’t have a lot but believe it’s important to pay our contributors what we can.
Occasionally, we’ve received full drafts written on spec, i.e., submitted to us as completed documents. We occasionally accept these if they’re of sufficient quality. However, it’s usually better to agree on a framework for the content before you go to the trouble of writing it. This ultimately is less work for you and for us.
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, grant us the right to keep the article in our archives even if you decide you don’t like us anymore, and stipulate that you should not reuse work that our editors worked with you to develop to a professional quality piece without clearing it with us first.
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. 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.
Please 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. If it’s been a while, however, do feel free to email us to make sure we haven’t dropped the ball. We’re not perfect over here.
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. There’s usually a lot of red ink, so don’t be shocked—it’s not just you. These edits are meant to tighten your message. There are often a couple rounds here, and we’re happy to arrange Skype conversations to discuss the piece as we work together on it.
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 concern. 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 with 48 hours of a successful publication of the piece.
On Choosing the Title and Images
Please note that in the publishing industry, it’s generally the publication and not the author that chooses the final title and the images that accompany the article. You will have the opportunity to weigh in on these before we publish, and we’ll strive to pick something you like. We welcome your suggestions and often keep the author’s proposed title.
However, we do reserve the right to choose a title or images that we think will get the right readers for your piece based on how it presents in the social media feed. We hate cheap “clickbait” tricks, however, and will strive to do this artfully.
(We’ve only disagreed with an author once on this, and we had a good talk so she saw why we did what we did. But we realized we need to be clear about this up front.)
When It Goes Live
Once your piece is published, we will promote it via social media. We generally feature one piece a week, so it could be anywhere from a week to six weeks after the issue’s publication. 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.