WRITERS’ AND CONTRIBUTORS’ GUIDELINES
Craftsmanship Quarterly is a not-for-profit, all-digital publication that welcomes stories from seasoned journalists, as well as new voices and fresh perspectives. We publish approximately 8 to 12 new, long-form narrative features a year, along with 20 to 30 smaller pieces in the form of shorter articles, mini-documentaries, podcasts, and photo essays. We pay all of our contributors for their work. Our rates are in line with the market (sometimes slightly higher), and are negotiated per story as a flat fee, based on the length and scope of the work, the amount of reporting required, and the contributor’s level of experience.
Because we are a small team that can only develop a modest percentage of the wonderful story ideas we receive every year, we ask that you carefully read the guidelines below, on each story type, before submitting a well thought-out pitch.
Before you read on, please note that our feature articles generally steer clear of stories about fine art, and the artists behind it. While any works of craftsmanship should be, and often are, aesthetically beautiful, they are primarily made as items to be used; this is the world we generally live in and investigate. So, unless there is a strong news angle related to craftsmanship, sustainability, or issues of social health, we leave stories about sculptors, painters, and other practitioners of the fine arts to our Field Notes section, or to the art critics. We also do not typically cover the DIY movement, as there are so many publications already doing that well.
We are proud to be an international publication that incorporates a global viewpoint and attracts readers from all over the world. That said, the bulk of our readership comes from the United States (mostly West Coast) and many of our stories are U.S.-based.
Demographically, our readers are well-educated and well-read, with most falling into the 55+ age group. Like us, our readers are interested in how simple items of craftsmanship, and the artisans who make them, raise deeper questions about quality, creativity, and the need to create a world built to last.
OPPORTUNITIES TO CONTRIBUTE
While we always welcome in-depth features from experienced journalists (more on this below), the best way for new writers to break in is via our section for briefs, entitled Field Notes. We usually run several pieces in this section per quarter. Often, these are related to the issue’s theme, but we also assign stories on unique artisans, craftsmanship events, and other topics. As mentioned above, fine art is not our primary focus, though we will consider the occasional story pitch on a fine art topic, if it also illuminates a unique angle and/or larger theme related to our core mission and values.
As part of the package, writers for Field Notes are expected to provide or help source images, assist our editors with writing photo captions, and collect social media handles (for sources, subjects, and other interested parties) to help us promote the story.
LENGTH: The sweet spot for a Field Notes piece is 800–1000 words, although we will occasionally approve up to 1,500 words for stories that require more space and depth than a standard brief, but aren’t quite feature-length.
IMAGES: We like to run at least 8 to 10 images per piece, depending on the subject. Ideally, we prefer to have at least 15 to 20 good images to choose from.
Feature articles are usually assigned and scheduled far in advance, due to the deeper level of reporting and the time investment they require, for both contributors and ourselves. We pride ourselves in working very closely with writers to develop features to their highest narrative potential — through ample consultation with the writer and unusually close editing — through several drafts, if necessary. Despite all of this planning, scheduled articles sometimes fall through, so if you have a smart idea for a timely feature and the chops to deliver it quickly, we’d love to hear about it.
Proposals for a feature article need to contain most or all of the following ingredients to be accepted:
- a complex craft or innovation that has not already been widely written about, or that presents a significant new angle to an old subject;
- an intriguing main character;
- a strong, focused, and meaningful argument suitable to some in-depth reporting (rather than a general feature about something interesting but with no clear point); and
- the building blocks for a layered narrative, with an arc that yields surprises, hopefully some drama, and by the end, a sense of discovery.
- links to strong examples of the contributor’s published writing, ideally of a scope and style that is similar to the proposed article.
As part of the package, feature writers are expected to assist with writing photo captions and collecting social media handles (for sources, subjects, and other interested parties) to help us promote the story. Depending on the assignment, photography may be negotiated separately (see below).
LENGTH: Features generally run from 2,000 to 4,000 words. Occasionally, we will assign a longer feature when the story is complex enough to warrant deeper reporting.
Good, professional images are a critical part of all our stories, especially for our long features, which usually include 15 to 25 photos apiece. We have a modest photography budget with which to pay professional photographers, negotiated separately. Often, good images can be obtained from other sources. We encourage feature writers to include their plans for sourcing images in their pitch. (And if you plan to take your own photos, please provide a link to your photography portfolio.)
HOW TO PITCH US
First, if you haven’t done so already, please take a close look at our website for examples of our previous stories and style. We also encourage you to do a thorough keyword search to make sure your idea hasn’t already been covered in our extensive archives (or elsewhere). Then, please send a well-developed, 3 to 5 paragraph pitch and a few links to your work to: publisher[at]craftsmanship.net. Please include the words “Field Notes Pitch” or “Feature Pitch” in your email subject line to ensure your message is routed correctly.
- Please DON’T send us the link to your entire portfolio or website as an example of your work; send relevant links only, or attach PDFs.
- Please DO be patient. We have a very small, hardworking team, and we do our best to get back to everyone within a few weeks, but the demands of publishing the current issue often take precedence. And sometimes email messages fall through the cracks. If you haven’t heard anything from us within 3 to 4 weeks’ time, feel free to send a brief, polite follow-up note.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read these guidelines and follow them closely. We look forward to hearing from you!