Freelancing for the Reader

The Chicago Reader is primarily a staff-written publication, but occasionally we'll run a great feature, insightful criticism, timely blog post, or expertly composed video that comes to us from a freelancer. Here are answers to the questions freelancers most commonly ask:

What are you looking for?

We usually answer this with a list of what we're not looking for: straightforward news (What the Mayor Said About the Schools Yesterday), poetry, travel pieces, stories we've already written (hint: be sure to search our site), stories other publications have already written (unless you have a substantially different angle), and national stories without a local angle.

Should I send a pitch?

Please do. Feel free to e-mail us with a query anytime.

What lengths do you prefer?

It depends. How long does it need to be? Our feature stories generally start at around 1,500 words and can run longer. Music and culture reviews are generally 600-1,200 words. Blog posts can be any length (within reason).

What about contracts?

All freelance contributors are required to sign the Reader's freelance contract prior to publication of their work.

What rights are you buying?

In general, our freelance fee for articles includes first-time serial rights, archival rights, and the right to publish in archival collections and anthologies. Following our first publication of the work, you will have the right to republish the work with our written consent and provided that it does not appear in a publication or Web site that is competitive with the Reader. A full description of the rights we are buying and your rights after first publication are included in the freelance contract.

How soon do you report on acceptance?

If we're interested, usually pretty quickly.

How about artwork and photos?

You're welcome to submit photos, illustrations, and original artwork that we sometimes run on our cover, etc. Photographers and illustrators who want to contribute to the Reader should send a link to samples.

Feel free to e-mail us if you have any further questions. And thanks for your interest in the Reader.