I have a warning though. This time, I cannot be your kind and clement gatekeeper who holds your hand and reminds you gently that you I need you to go back and do X, Y, or Z if you want your submission to be a blog post for Writing About Writing. I have done this before, and I simply do not have the time and energy to do it this time. I'm doing this because I'm overwhelmed already.
I've taken a lot of time and energy to make sure the submission guidelines are very clear. Please meet me halfway and take the time to understand them if you want to write for us.
Got something to say about writing, art, inspiration, creativity, motivation, process, craft, literature, reading...or possibly cheese?
Got something that writers or book lovers REALLY need to see?
Want to respond to something I've written, even if it's to completely disagree with me and tell me I smell like soup? (And the good soup that reminds you of snug childhood winters, but something with weird goat cheese and seasonings that smells a little off.)
Want to take advantage of my (currently) 40,00-60,000+ page views per month and advertise your own online endeavors in a thinly veiled self-promote-a-thon wrapped in the "sheep's clothing" of an article? (For which I will only demand a shoutout in return.)
Want to put an article or three out in the world, be read by lots of readers, but without having to start your own blog and do all that self promotion? Or just want to try blogging on for size a few times before you start one of your own?
Want to even make a couple of bucks? (Oh yes. I said it. No just "exposure" here!)
Then I want you!
Hey, I gotta get a book written. I need a day a week where someone else can do some of the heavy lifting.
Now paying people and having the traffic I do, does mean that I usually get about two hundred or so replies to a post like this, and I get to be a little picky, so please put on your Sunday best and read this entire post very, VERY carefully.
I'm obviously not going to host anything that is utterly shitty to me or some kind of elitist skidmark about who deserves the label of "writer" and who is a "total poseur." Miss me with that shit. More importantly, miss my readers.
I also can't promise that if you write an article on why I'm totes wrong in my Wrongface about something like writing every day or reading a lot that I won't write some kind of rebuttal, but all opinions on writing are welcome--even ones antithetical to mine. (I do reserve the right to refuse a post for any reason, but I promise that reason won't be because I disagree with you about daily writing or you think NaNo is unambiguously awesome or whatever.)
And...if you're one of my regular guest bloggers, I'll even give you your own link on The Reliquary (unless you'd rather I didn't) and let you post links to your own fiction. The magic number is FIVE regular articles to open up those privileges. (And then we'll talk ratios.)
Here are some guidelines so we don't waste each other's time. If you don't at least get through them, this isn't going to go well (and like I said above, I have a way of knowing):
- If you send me offers to do web content, I mark your mail as spam.
- Personalize your email. If you're flinging out a lot of these, that's fine, but if you've got a form letter with a link, be aware that it looks EXACTLY like the spam I get four or five times a day. I don't always know when I'm looking at a legitimate offer for a guest blog.
- If you are a robot I will mark you as spam. Unless you can do dishes. Robots that do dishes are welcome.
- If you can't figure out what this blog is about, and offer to do articles about steam roofing or tantric sex techniques or something, I'll mark your mail as spam (although I might have some follow up questions about the tantric sex techniques). I'm not just web content here; this blog has a theme and everything.
- Please read the paragraph below the bullet points very, very, very carefully.
- Your writing is yours. I'm going to ask that you let the post run on my page for a while before you cross post it, but ultimately I respect that as the generator of the creative effort, your writing is yours. If you ask me to remove it, I will. If you repost it somewhere else, that's okay. IT IS YOURS! IT WILL STAY YOURS!
- There are no author passwords to Writing About Writing–you'll submit your articles to me. I will post them if they are good enough to post.
- The more formatting your post needs (italics, bold, underlining, bullet points, pull quotes, double tab paragraphs) the more likely it is I'm just going to copy and paste it and it will come out looking STRANGE on blogger. I honestly don't know why this happens, but the font ends up being small no matter how many times I try to fix it. It's much better if you need only a few formatting changes and I can start with fresh text and do the formatting myself.
- If you skipped all that dull text up above, this blog is about writing, art, inspiration, creativity, motivation, process, craft, literature, reading, and maybe cheese. Don't skip the paragraph below though.
- Right now I'm not publishing fiction other than my own. I would be willing to publish fiction of any of our regular guest bloggers but getting that distinction takes some doing. (Five regular articles.) If you have something more creative (like someone mentioned poems about writing) run it past me. I might be up for something like that. Maybe.
- I'm not a hardass gatekeeper—especially not about grammar—but you do have to be able to write a little and there will be competition. I am going to get a lot of responses to this post. I'd love to publish them all, but I will (at most) be picking one a week. An incoherent rant about the tyranny of grammar or something you slapped together in ten minutes probably won't be make it. Write your best shit (you should never submit less anyway), meticulously follow all the submission guidelines (you should always do this), and let loose. But don't get too nervous about whether it means you're a good writer or not. It just means there's competition and maybe some other topic fit better or you'll nail it in a year with practice.
- You don't have to agree with me, particularly about writing stuff, but I'm not going to post wildly divergent social positions, humor that punches down, or deeply problematic phrasing. Anything I post here isn't an "I agree with this 100%!" endorsement, but if I hit publish on it, I'm going to be the one to answer for it when I get pissed off readers in my comments. If you want to write about how the PC police are agents of "the libs," and they won't let you even use the word "XXXX" anymore, go start your own fucking blog, so I can never read it.
- I won't make any content changes to your writing, but I may make some copy edits. If a proofreading change might change your meaning, I will run it by you.
- Please fucking read the paragraph below.
- When I say "I will make some edits" I want you to understand that I'm not a copy editor and wouldn't be good at it even if I wanted to be. I'm not here to fix up a post from scratch that you didn't have time to proofread. Clean it up.
- You may link out as much as you want (even self-promotional links) within reason, but I'm going to check them all--if they go to spammy shit, I won't publish your article. I don't have a rubric for "within reason." If your post is more links than articles, no. If it has two dozen solid citations for the point you're making, we're still totally golden. If you have linked to six separate self-published books on your Amazon page about sex with dinosaurs..........well, it better be one great fucking article.
- Please, for the love of all that is holy, and in the name of Poseidon's left nipple, read the goddamned fucking paragraph below.
- If your post is a giant ass commercial for some product, then you need to be paying me for advertising space. (I offer very reasonable rates.) And if your product isn't awesome and something I totally believe in, that's not going to happen anyway since WAW is generally ad free. Thinly veiled self promotion under the auspices of something that at least resembles an article is totally okay though–just know that it might not get a lot of hits. I only get about 200 views on articles that aren't liked or reshared through some social media. If my readers don't like something, it does NOT do very well. If they do, well they know where the like and share buttons are and it quickly goes viral.
- Be aware of, and at least passingly comfortable with my politics and social justice posts. I absolutely do not require guest bloggers to agree with me–certainly not about every issue. However, there is nothing more desperately unprofessional than writers so happy to be published anywhere that they turn around and are shocked to see their own platform throw out a social position they can't abide by. Also, include the word sparklefuzz in your email's subject line if you want any sort of reply from me at all. This shows me how you've actually taken the time to read the guidelines, and gives me an easy way to search for them when I get buried in emails which is all the time.
- Seriously, read the paragraph below.
The very important paragraph:
W.A.W. isn't making very much money article per article. I can't offer more than a couple of dollars (currently $10 for an article that does on average as well as the ones I write and more if it does better). Most guest bloggers ask to fold their payment back into W.A.W. as a donation, but that's never expected, and I'm happy to pay you for your writing. If your article brings in heavy traffic, we will figure something extra out so I'm not taking the hard work of a writer with nothing but the promise of "exposure." Plus of course if someone sends me a donation earmarked for a guest blogger, I will pass the money onto them and even cover the Paypal fee–that's for them, not me. It may not add up to much (unless you get millions of hits or write for me a lot) but if it came from your work, I'll make sure I'm not taking advantage of you.
Less important paragraphs, but you probably should keep paying attention if you don't want to be frustrated:
THIS PROCESS WILL TAKE TIME BECAUSE I AM A WRITER (with a second job who just got diagnosed with cancer), NOT A MANAGING EDITOR. When you email me in the appropriate way, I star the email as "important," and it may take me a week to ten days (or more) to get to it. I then send back a "form" reply to everyone who didn't spam me or pitch steam roofing articles with the next step (which involves either a sample or the article you'd like considered if it's already written). I usually never get a response to the second email. This process can take a month or more so if you're in a terrible hurry, you may need to throw down a rope and swear on the soul of your father, Domingo Montoya, that I will clear out my email cache alive. Honestly, most people just ghost me after not getting a reply immediately. If you aren't ready to be patient…..well really you shouldn't be doing submissions anyway––just go self-publish.
Of those who send me something they want published, about 10% actually make it to the blog. Now, just so you know, while I do get submissions that aren't ready for publication yet, it's actually far less common than just submissions where folks don't follow the directions. I'm not even talking about anal retentive directions that you get from most publishers like single spaced or page numbers. I mean they don't reply to the first email. Or they link me something and never tell me if that's their sample or if that's what they want me to publish. Or I ask about a biography and a pic and never hear back. Or they send me six emails in a row wondering if they can write ten to fifteen articles a day because they gotta make rent.
I know it seems like hoops and an assembly line and believe me on this end it's ten times worse, but trust me that once we're done with the hoopla, the rapport will be very informal and friendly and unless your posts get really off topic or weird, I'll give them a lot more latitude than the first one–it will be a much less stressful process once you're "in."
Also.....most of the writers who do get all the way to the publication point send me between two and four articles and then lose enthusiasm. Maybe it's just not the insta-fame they were hoping for or it turns out it's harder work than they thought to keep cranking out posts every week. So if you're serious about this, the best thing you can do is read everything carefully (like this post and the e-mails I send you), and stick with it.
Just like writing itself.