Tips from the Editors: Profiles
You’ve written it, but now it needs a home. How does a submission make the cut? In this series, the editors at Literary Mama offer their thoughts on the process. This month, Profiles editors Christina Consolino and Kelsey Madges share with readers some insights into the pieces they love and the submissions they seek.
The Profiles Department seeks profiles of writers who are mothers, or writers who write about motherhood (who may or may not be mothers themselves), or writers who have something to say to mothers. We accept the interview (Q&A) or profile format. To help you along in our submission process and make your profiles stand out, we’ve answered a few of the most common questions that potential writers might have.
What are we looking for from the pitch?
First and foremost, a possible writer should have knowledge of the profile subject. Give us a reason for why you’d like to write about this person and why you’re personally interested in this subject. Secondly, we’d like to know the types of questions you plan to ask. We don’t need all the questions, just an idea of what topics will be addressed.
Do you already have a connection to the subject? Do you have a timeline in mind? If so, please let us know. If you’re an author pitching to be profiled, think about a time frame. If you know when your book will be published, we’d like to try to time a profile around the publishing date.
What are we looking for in a subject?
We are seeking profiles of writers, editors, or others with a publishing background. We look for those who write for mothers or for those who identify as mothers. We are interested in subjects whose writing is about motherhood, family, balance, or identity as a writer/mother. We seek diverse or unique perspectives on motherhood and writing. We broaden this definition to include fathers/fatherhood in our June issue.
Since 2003 Literary Mama has published over 150 profile pieces. As our submissions page suggests, “Cast your net widely. We’re interested in profiles of well-known, living mama writers, of course, but also of off-beat, lesser-known, not-so-obvious mama writers. Has anyone profiled Harriet Beecher Stowe as a mama writer, for example? Surprise and delight us.”
We’ve been particularly surprised and delighted by what we’ve learned from these pieces about Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Ama Ata Aidoo, and these conversations with Leslie Lawrence and Megan Mayhew Bergman.
If you don’t have a subject in mind, but you’d like to write for us, our department usually has a wish list of profile candidates. Feel free to contact us and ask about that wish list.
What are we looking for in a profile writer?
We are more than happy to work with writers of every stage, from first-time to more established writers. Crafting thoughtful questions for an interview or bringing a unique perspective to a profile is most important. The writer needs previous knowledge of the author, or needs to be willing to get to know the author’s work and background.
How does the process work?
We usually receive a pitch for a profile and not a completed piece. As profile editors, we vet ideas and pass them along to senior editors. Once we have senior editor approval, we give the writer the go-ahead to follow through with the interview or narrative profile. Profile writers conduct interviews via email, phone, video, or in-person. When the interview is completed, the profile is written and submitted to the profiles editors, who edit the piece. We submit the edited piece for senior editor approval before publication. Every effort is made to see a piece through to publication, but publication is not guaranteed.
What else should our profile writers know?
Profiles should be 750-2500 words. For more information, please see our submission guidelines.