Want to Write for Scarleteen?
2.28.23: We are currently temporarily closed to submissions from anyone whose pitches have not already been accepted. Please check back here in a few months!
Diversity of voices and perspectives is important to our organization and our users. So is having some of the best content for young people about sex, sexuality, relationships and identities there is. That's where you could come in!
We want more great, original and radical writers, sex, bodies and relationships educators and thinkers on our freelance team. We welcome and are open to all kinds of voices, though we are especially seeking content from queer and LGBA writers, BIPOC writers, women, trans and nonbinary writers, people with disabilities, young writers and other marginalized and underrepresented groups.
Style and form
Content for Scarleteen needs to be written well and very inclusively, considering factors like diversity of economic class, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, ability and agency. Scarleteen is often ahead of the curve with inclusion in this field, so feel free to look at current pieces as a guide.
We ask that writers demonstrate and convey a true respect for young people, presenting themselves as a helper, not a parent, leader or director. Young people trust Scarleteen as a place that has and always conveys a real value of them as whole people with agency. If you're familiar with our content, you know already that it is primarily user-driven; based in what users have expressed to us meets their needs. It is friendly and accessible in style, plain and direct in tone, while treating sensitive topics with the sensitivity and sometimes mutual vulnerability they truly demand. We need writers who can give our users depth and expansiveness, and the feeling of someone really taking the time to talk with them in a warm and thoughtful way. Surfacey or glib sex talk just doesn't cut it here: our readers both deserve and expect realness from us.
Currently, our site serves around 3 million unique readers a year. Many likeminded organizations and media services also link to our content, so your work will be seen widely. Scarleteen is and remains the most widely used site specifically for young people seeking out sex and relationships information, so it's a great place to get targeted readers for that content.
Our users -- and thus, your readers -- are primarily between the ages of 15 and 25, and live all over the world. About 50% of our users are in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, and the other half are in the rest of world. Our readership is highly diverse.
There is no set word count for pieces for us. Pieces here can and often do vary a great deal in length: if the piece is engaging, how long or short a piece is is mostly influenced by the topic at hand. Human sexuality and relationships are complex topics, so very short pieces are not often right for us: clear, engaging longform, or a longer series made of short pieces, tends to be more of what our readers want and respond to. We expect writers to say as much or as little about something as needs be said for a reader to benefit and clearly understand, and to do so in an engaging way. Literacy tends to be high for many of our users, but we still ask that writers do their best to use plain language and explain any terms or acronyms. Demystification of all the things is the name of the game around here.
Our base pay rate starting in 2023 for most first pieces is $150, paid to you as an independent contractor. We do not support work-for-hire: we share copyright, so you retain the rights to your work. You may reprint or republish as you like, we simply ask that for the first month a piece is published, it is exclusive to Scarleteen.
If and when a writer turns out to do a great job for us, and is a good fit for our readers, we love keeping writers on as part of our freelance team. Writers who have written two or more pieces with us who continue to work with us are advanced to a minimum base pay of $175 per piece starting with their third piece. Writers who have written nine or more pieces start at $200 per piece with their tenth piece. Whatever your pay rate, it is always okay to try and negotiate a different rate with us, we just won't always have the fiscal flexibility to pay at higher rates than these.
We do our best to make writing for us a positive, relaxed and supportive experience. Our writers typically report having a very good experience working with us, and feeling like both they and their work were treated with care and respect. We are always very happy to work with young or emerging writers. Scarleteen is a great place to get started as a writer.
Here's the way a piece usually goes from start to finish with us.
1. You look around the site, including our publicly posted direct services (that's the message boards and advice columns), and see if the tone, style and subject matter here feel like a good place for you as a writer. Please familiarize yourself with our content and style before pitching: some of the most popular current styles of internet content -- super snappy, snarky and short, or where much of the content is image-based -- are not a good fit for us. We also have been publishing for getting close to 25 years now, so do use our search function first to see what our coverage has already been of a topic you have in mind.
2. You look at the current needs listed below for ideas, throw us a couple examples of your writing, let us know where you have been published before if you have, and a pitch in email based on that list. It should be emailed to: editorialATscarleteenDOTcom. We neither accept nor respond to auto-generated or mass pitches or to unsolicited submissions of whole content. Do not send any of these to us.
3. We look at what you send, email you back if we're interested, have a chat, set a deadline for a first draft, then send you off to get cracking. We care a great deal about fair conditions and value for labor: we believe the agreements we suggest and ask for respect the rights and value of our content creators and collaborators, but if you have any special needs or concerns with it, you can always let us know and we're happy to consider adjustments or changes. We ask that you please work in -- or at least turn your files in using -- Microsoft Word or Apple Pages.
4. You come back with a first draft. If it looks like something we just can't work with, or will have to do a lot of work on ourselves, we'll have to decline taking it any further. If it looks pretty solid, we will review, leave notes and edits using track changes, and then you'll ideally make another draft based on those notes and edits. Your editor will usually be founder Heather Corinna, but may sometimes be another member of our staff or volunteer team, especially for early drafts.
Please do NOT remove anything added by us in track changes, nor accept or delete any changes. Instead, you'll just leave what's fine with you per edits without touching it or make changes asked for. For any edits you don't like or otherwise want to reject, you can do so by adding comments/notes to or within the track changes. We also may have some back and forth in comments, or in email.
5. Then we'll review and edit that draft. Ideally, we get to a finish within two rounds of edits, but sometimes it takes three. If it's looking to ask for more than that, we may or may not continue work on the piece, but do always pay kill fees if we decide not to run or finish a piece after the second draft. If a piece looks good to go, we'll polish it up any more as needed, finalize all the track changes, and publish and promote the piece. We'll email you to let you know when it goes live, and you can then invoice us. We'll get you in our payment system and will pay you within 30 days, though typically payment now clears in around a week or two. If it's going to be a long time from finish to publish, we will generally invite writers to invoice us then so they don't have to wait for pay.
This whole process can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months, depending on the length of the piece, how quickly or slowly you and we are working, and where it fits with our editorial schedule.
Current Topic Needs (last updated 12/28/22):
- Content by and for intersex readers, or by intersex writers for parents/guardians of other intersex people
- Content expressly by and for queer people
- Content by and for neuroatypical readers
- Content by and for fat readers
- Disability content for and ideally also by those with cognitive disability, and disabilities that limit mobility
- Pieces on trans and queer joy
- Pieces by and for trans women, especially BIPOC trans women
- Content expressly for cishet people that is socially progressive and modern, not based in comphet
- Content by Black writers
- Pieces on sex and sexuality with mental illness
- Pleasure-focused content (it need not be expressly sexual: we want content about diverse avenues in and experiences of pleasure)
- Pregnancy and young parenting content, including: going through a pregnancy, healthcare and choices, childcare, managing intimate relationships while pregnant/parenting, body changes and issues, self-care
- Youth rights guides
- Healing from sexual assault or abuse
- Living with HIV or other sexually transmitted (or assumed to be sexually transmitted) illness
- How to survive while living in abuse a reader can't currently leave or get away from (eg, a legal minor in an abusive home)
- Learning to create and nurture healthy relationships for those who have grown up with normalized abuse or dysfunction
- Processing and managing familial conflicts with sexuality or intimate relationships
- Learning to feel more comfortable with sexuality, sexual identity and sexual interactions