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The Public Writing Life: the Venue, the Pitch, and the Fee

So you’ve decided it’s time to branch out from scholarship and write for the public. After mulling how your expertise relates to something in the news, you have a sense of what to write. You even have some venues in mind. Now what?

How, exactly, do you approach editors at newspapers, magazines, and websites? What do you say? And what are the next steps if an editor accepts your pitch?

You might have a vague sense of how the process usually works: You pitch an idea to editors, who either accept or reject it (unless they ignore it entirely). Some editors give you feedback once they accept the pitch: Include a little more of this or a little more of that; check out this story or interview that source. Then you and the editor come to an agreement about length, deadline, and fee. (Spoiler alert: Most of the time, you’ll get very little say about any of those things.)

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