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Sorting Out Our Values

Write for Us

Interested in sharing your thoughts and experiences in Third Factor?  Great!  We’d love to hear from you. We welcome inexperienced authors who want to give storytelling a shot, and we’re happy to work with you to develop your ideas. Naturally, we also love to hear from experienced writers.

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 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 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 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.  If you’re envisioning a piece over 3,500 words from the get-go, though, we might opt to publish it in a two-part series or suggest that you break it into separate articles.

Payment

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, 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 offer 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

Contract

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, and will generally ask that you not reuse work that we have worked with you to develop without clearing it with us.

Deadlines

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.

Communication

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, it’s okay to email us just to check in and make sure we haven’t dropped the ball, though.

The Process

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 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.

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 do our best to pick something you like.  We certainly 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.