Why your contribution matters
Philippa Willitts // 18 February 2013
We’re all volunteers here at The F-Word and, try as we might, we just can’t cover every topic that we would like to. We also aim to be as representative as possible of feminists in the UK, and are fully aware that the group of us who run the blog and the section editors are not as representative as we might be. For this reason, and because we aim to give a platform to UK feminists, we really love getting guest blog posts, features or reviews from you. Yes, you.
The thing is, we know that a lot of people don’t think they could do it. Often, once somebody has done a one-off guest post for us they will approach us again, but doing it for the first time takes some guts, we do appreciate that. Maybe you think your grammar isn’t good enough, or that you will struggle to format something correctly, or that you don’t have a PhD in Gender Studies so you can’t possibly offer up your writing, but we want you to. Yes, you!
We particularly like to hear from people who feel they are under-represented on The F-Word, such as lesbian and bisexual woman, trans women, parents (though we are getting more and more of these all the time amongst our existing collective!), women of colour, older women and disabled women. We do ask that our contributors are either based in the UK or have some connection to the country.
** NB to find out more about the details involved with offering your contribution to the site, please visit our Write For Us page **
Laura is our Guest Bloggers’ Co-ordinator, so I asked her about what information she wants to hear from potential writers. She said,
“What the post is about – be quite specific e.g. not “a post about abortion rights” but “a post about abortion law in the UK and why I think it needs to be improved, focusing on the two doctor rule””.
She also gave more advice about how to pitch to us,
“People are welcome to submit a completed post straight off, but they should be aware that it won’t necessarily get published, so it might be better to outline their idea first and see if it’s something we might be interested in. Though equally we can’t 100% guarantee we will publish what they send us even if we like the initial idea, although we will always try to work with them to edit or amend the piece if we have concerns about it rather than reject it outright”.
Guest blog posts have a limit of 800 words, and Laura found that one of the most common mistakes she sees is
“Ignoring the word limit. Please remember that all the collective members are volunteers with limited time to dedicate to the site, and while we are happy to support people with their submissions, it’s up to contributors to cut their posts down where necessary”.
And finally, and most importantly, she wanted to reinforce how much we do genuinely want to hear from people who have not written for us, or even for anywhere, before:
“You don’t need to be a brilliant writer! We are more interested in people’s views and experiences than your grasp of English grammar, and we can offer support with proofreading and the linguistic side of things. We are particularly keen to give a platform to new voices, so you’re actually more likely to get published if you haven’t written for us before, and we’d love to hear from you”.
Jolene is on the blogging collective, and she is also the Fiction Editor for the site. She offered similar advice to Laura, about what information to include in your first contact with the site:
“For guest blog posts, a summary explanation of the topic and perhaps a few of the main points, as well as an indication of whether it’s related to something topical going on (and therefore time-specific). For fiction reviews, I’d like to have a brief description of the book and why it might be of interest to the F Word (e.g. subject matter of interest to feminists, won or shortlisted for some award, feminist writer, etc.)”
Jolene also advised potential writers to search the site to see if we had written something else on the subject before – this would not mean we wouldn’t cover it again, of course, but it is good practice to link to what we have previously written.
Common mistakes that she has seen in submissions are,
“Using disablist and essentialising language, sadly. This is normally relatively easy to edit, but I’d like to alter submissions less rather than more, so would love to get more material that doesn’t require it!”
And to encourage contributors to take the leap, Jolene said,
“Just about everything that I’ve seen submitted has had new and interesting points to make, because everyone brings a different perspective to things”.
We’re not (that) scary, you can even see some of our faces here (except mine, I’m not a yellow balloon). It is difficult, because there is a lot to do behind the scenes, and sometimes it can take us a while to reply to people who contact us. We all fit F-Word stuff in between whatever else we do in our lives, but we share a love for the site and a commitment to helping as many feminists as we can to have a voice.
And that’s why, when you have a brilliant idea, or when you wonder why on earth we haven’t covered x, y or z subject that everybody is talking about, or when your local feminist group did a brilliant action that hasn’t been covered nationally, you might want to consider writing for us. Yes, you.
[The first image is of a woman sitting on a bench by the sea. She is leaning a pad of paper on her knee and writing. It was taken by Pedro Ribeiro Simões. The second image is of a woman who is sitting at a desk and writing. It was taken by Filip and is also used under a Creative Commons Licence]