On assignment letters

Ok, so you already know how to write a pitch, once your pitch is accepted, the editor will send an assignment letter, likely with a few ideas for additional points to consider, directions to take, and subjects to be covered. To some extent these are suggestions, but the assignment letter also serves to outline the editor’s expectations of what the article will cover, and the format it will take.

At this point, the editor will send you Spiral Nature’s guidelines, links to our writer’s agreement and contributor form, assign a deadline, and outline a few additional administrative things to be taken care of prior to publication. For reference, you can look over our style guide and lexicon. Bonus points for submitting pieces that already conform to these standards.

Most of our articles run 800 to 1,200 words, but realistically, a piece is as long as it needs to be. If it’s shorter, don’t pad to fill out the word count. If it’s longer, don’t fret, but do consider whether it fits the assignment.

When you actually sit down to write the piece, you may find the story takes a different turn from what was assigned. If that happens, keep your editor in the loop. If it suits the direction of the story, then it’s probably fine. But if your story starts to sprawl in too many directions, we may find that your one story idea is actually two stories. Or three. Maybe more. It happens.

Generally, we prefer a tight focus. If there’s sprawl, remember you can always save those ideas. Create a new file, save the good stuff, and turn them into story ideas for additional pieces that can be pitched and published at a later date. Maybe even a series of articles?

When you send in your first draft, ensure that it has already gone through (Canadian) spell check and grammar check. Read it through and confirm that you’ve covered everything in the assignment letter, and the piece has has a logical flow. Consider whether subheads would be helpful to break up information into useful chunks, or whether a list of further reading material would help your reader. Once it’s perfect, send it in.

We look forward to reading your work!