Interested in writing a profile for Literary Mama?
I asked Christina Consolino, Literary Mama’s profiles editor, to share a few comments about what she’s looking for.
KC: How many submissions do you receive and how many profiles do you publish on a monthly basis?
CC: We don’t receive many submissions on a monthly basis, perhaps three to four at the most. Most of our profiles come from a list of subjects that staff would love to see profiled (our wish list). These profiles are written by some of our regular contributors, who we personally contact. We’d love to see more submissions in our inbox and welcome writers (emerging and established), authors themselves, and publicists to inquire and suggest a subject. On average, we publish one profile a month, but our goal is to consistently publish two profiles each month.
KC: The LM guidelines encourage profile submissions of well-known, living mama writers, but also of off-beat, lesser-known, not-so-obvious mama writers. Can you share a little more about who and what you’re looking for?
CC: Who and what we’re looking for can vary according to each editor, but what I like to see is a good balance between the well-known and the lesser-known, and my hope to is profile one well-known name and one lesser-known name each month. I like to field inquiries by authors themselves who have a unique perspective on mothering or who have written a complex, nuanced narrative on family dynamics. I’m specifically drawn toward mama writers who come from diverse countries and cultures or who have a background different from myself. It’s also important that the profile subject’s work be well-written and easily accessible to a writer who is going to take on the task of profiling her.
KC: What kinds of questions should writers ask when they’re conducting an interview?
CC: I believe a thoughtful and compelling question is a good place to start. It’s important for the writer to immerse herself in the world of the profile subject. Read a book or two that the subject has written, pick apart interviews that she’s provided, check out her blog and social media pages. Find what makes the subject or her writing unique and try to fashion a question or two around those characteristics. Also, ask the question that no one has asked before. Some favorite questions relate to the eternal quest for balance that most mama writers seek, as well as what she might have in the works. And it’s always interesting to find out what inspires the subject to write.
KC: I imagine that you get plenty of requests for profiles directly from a writer or her publicist. How do you weigh these types of requests? What do you look for in terms of the writer’s accomplishments or personal story?
CC: First and foremost, we want to profile mama writers or those writers who write quite a bit about mothering or motherhood and what it entails. So when we get a request from a publicist about a recent book published by John Doe, we don’t usually say yes unless we think the book is right for our Father’s Day issue in June. In addition, we don’t usually publish profiles of children’s book authors, but we have made exceptions (for example, this profile of Kelly Light). But if a request comes in from the publicist of a mama writer, we consider it as carefully as one that comes in from an author herself. It’s important to remember that everyone needs to start somewhere, which is why we also weigh a first-time writer as heavily as an internationally-renowned author. It doesn’t matter how many accomplishments the writer has listed on her resume. We’re more concerned with the quality of her writing, how her personal story stands out from the rest, and what she can lend to our readers that might be different from our other profile subjects.
KC: How do you respond to writers who may be interested in writing a profile for Literary Mama but don’t have a subject to propose. Can they “apply” to be one of your writers?
The best way to “apply” is to send us a query at LMprofiles (at) literarymama (dot) com. We’d love for you to tell us who you’d like to profile and why, and why you might be the best writer to profile that author. If you don’t have a subject to propose but are willing to write a profile from our wish list, please let us know. And for either case, attaching a writing sample or directing us to a previously published work is always helpful. However, we’re also open to new writers and are willing to work with you even if you’ve never been published before.