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Publishing Long-form Writing
May 2, 2014 8:17 AM   Subscribe

I've had an idea for a long-form essay with some original research and reporting kicking around in my head for a while. I've done some background research, and I haven't found any similar treatments of the topic anywhere else in either academia or in the popular press. I already have three different groups that I could interview and conduct field research with about the topic, and I also have a pretty strong theoretical and historical base to frame the writing. I'm used to academic publishing, but would be interested in writing this as a non-academic long-form essay. At the very least I'd be publishing this on my own webspace, but was curious about what the process would be like to try and sell it to an online venue? Is it better to write the thing first, or are there places which I could propose the article to beforehand? Is it even realistic to think that I could sell an article without being a previously published author in the mainstream press?
posted by codacorolla to Work & Money (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you've been previously published, editors are more likely to take a chance on you - especially if you can provide a synopsis which shows you can write 'accessible prose' (as one editor once said to me).

It's a crowded marketplace, though, so make sure you pitch to the right people.
posted by kariebookish at 8:59 AM on May 2


Since you're new to being published, I would suggest writing it first (or at least part of it first) - publishers/editors/etc are going to need to see that you can write for a non-academic audience before saying yes or no.
posted by troika at 9:11 AM on May 2


Does anyone have experience with Medium? I dislike most of the writing I've seen linked from here, but wouldn't be adverse to using it as an intermediary publishing platform.
posted by codacorolla at 9:27 AM on May 2


Do you work at a university (asking because you mention academic publishing)? If so, try contacting the publicity office. They likely have contacts with the mainstream press and can guide you.
posted by redlines at 9:30 AM on May 2


You should actually approach editors at publications you like and read, which can include Medium. (Medium editors actually purchase works and work with authors; you should not invest so much time and energy in a project and not have it published unedited. That would be ungood for you.)

I would say since you are going to do this piece anyway, and because you don't have standing relationships, you should write half or some of this piece. I buy pieces based on excerpts or even pitches all the time, but I can't really get on board for big stuff with people I don't know and haven't read much of, you know?

But I really think you need to work backwards. What venue would you like to see this at? Well, start there, and work backwards.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:45 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


RJ: that's really helpful. I was thinking Grantland, since it's sports based and they tend to publish long-form sports writing that I genuinely enjoy.

I'm pretty sure I could knock out the historical and theory framing aspect of the article within a week or so. Would that be compelling enough for you (hypothetically) to consider a longer piece with original reporting? Or would you want to see how the writer incorporates quotes and data alongside historical analysis?
posted by codacorolla at 10:54 AM on May 2


Medium has a two-tiered system--paid and not paid. You could also do HuffPo which gets exposure but no pay. Grantland might be hard for someone with no clips (previously published work.)
posted by Ideefixe at 11:41 AM on May 2


Ah yeah. Okay email me, would you? It's in my profile.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 2:17 PM on May 2


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