Everything you need to know about contributing articles to Broad Street Review
Broad Street Review, launched in December 2005, is conceived as an arts and culture forum where knowledgeable people can engage in intelligent discourse about the arts. We are based in Philadelphia, and we are primarily focused on things happening in Philadelphia, but not all our writers live locally.
Unlike many websites, almost everything we post is unsolicited. We welcome both essays and reviews. Reviews will use the play, concert, opera, or event as a jumping-off point to connect the piece to some broader issue; there should be something more to the piece than a summary and an opinion as to whether the work was good or bad.
Subject matter: Right now we have ten categories for which we accept unsolicited contributions: Art, Books, the Creative Economy, Dance, Design, Film and TV, Museums, Music, and Theater, plus a catchall category called Cross-Cultural. We rarely publish fiction or poetry, but do occasionally post humor and satire. In addition to critical essays, we have a separate section of the site called What's New What's Next (WNWN), where we post news briefs, recommendations on coming events, and reportage and features on the arts community in Philadelphia, fairly broadly defined.
How to submit an article or query. Contact me by e-mail at email@example.com with a descriptive subject line ("Review of X," not just "Review," e.g.) and something, preferably an explanation of what you're sending, in the body of the email. Attach your piece as a separate Word document with a descriptive title (see "Formatting" below). If you submit an essay or review, you should receive an acknowledgment from me within a day or two that I have gotten it; I usually give you a "yes" or "no" on whether I'm going to run it within a week. Associate editor Alaina Mabaso (firstname.lastname@example.org) oversees WNWN, assigning pieces in advance rather than accepting spec submissions; contact her directly about that section.
Length. Internet visitors tend to have short attention spans, so shorter is always better than longer, but we have no hard and fast rules. Reviews should be between 500 and 850 words, but unless you're truly inspired, you should keep to the shorter end of that range. Essays should be 750 words up to 1,000, but again, no need to pad your work. Often, shorter is better.
Formatting. Create a Word document (.doc or .docx) and name the file with your last name, a word or two on the subject, and the date submitted (e.g., Smith King Lear 01_02_14). Also remember to include your name and a suggested title within the body of the document. Preferred font is 12-point Times New Roman. If using words with diacritics, please format them with the diacritics. Single-space the text, but use a double return between paragraphs; do not indent. Please use one space, not two, between sentences.
In addition to your essay. Please provide a proposed headline/title and blurb (a two- or three-sentence summary) to run with the piece. In addition, a "What, When, Where" box accompanies most reviews; please provide the information for that box. This would include the basic information about the name of the work, the performers, the date or dates, and the venue for a performance; author, title, publishing information for a book; and so on. Also provide a URL address and contact phone number where relevant. Look at any posted reviews to get an idea of what material to include and how to format this information. All of this information can be included in the Word document with your submission; it doesn't count toward your word count.
Links. Our setup on the back end allows us to cut-and-paste in formatted text, so if you're providing links to other websites, you can present them as they will appear in the final text, with a hyperlink attached to highlighted text. If you don't know how to create these links, simply provide the URL information for the link in parentheses at the appropriate point in the text.
Images. If you have high-resolution digital images, or a link to them via the venue or a media contact, please provide them, along with information for the credit line in the caption (name of photographer or source). Don't just send something you find in an online search; we may or may not have the right to use that image. In addition to the single image that runs at the head of the pieces, we can include additional images in the body of the text, so if your story would benefit from more art, let us know. Please send images as separate JEPGs rather than inserting them into your document.
Editing process. I post on Tuesdays, plus two or more days between Thursday and Sunday. If I accept your piece, I’ll usually edit and post it within a few days of acceptance, then send you an email advising you to look it over. If you want me to make changes, just email me, and I’ll try to accommodate you. Once we send out our weekly email newsletter on Wednesday mornings, we try not to tamper further with a piece, but of course, we can always make corrections or changes even weeks or months after it’s been posted.
Ethical issues. We have one basic ethical rule for writers: be honest. You can say whatever you like here as long as you let people know who you are and where you’re coming from. That means no pseudonyms — for you or your subjects — and full disclosure: If you’re writing about your son-in-law’s dance company, your husband’s theater troupe, or your friend’s paintings, disclose the relationship. Ditto if you’re employed by a place that you’re writing about, or if you have a financial interest in it, or sit on its board.
It’s bad journalistic form to send a review or commentary to the subject prior to its publication. Such a practice tends, however subconsciously, to inhibit the writer from speaking candidly. Remember: Your first obligation is to BSR and to our readers — not to the artists you’re writing about.
Press tickets. Once you’ve established yourself as a regular contributor to Broad Street Review, most local arts organizations will be happy to grant you complimentary admission if you request it in advance from the appropriate PR person. If you encounter problems or need help on this score, refer the publicist to me, or contact me (email@example.com or 215-735-1455), and I’ll vouch for you.
We also send a more-or-less weekly newsletter to our regular writers that lists coming events for which press tickets are available, with contact information. If you'd like to receive that, contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
When you accept press tickets to any event, make it clear to the hosts that they’re simply exposing you to their production — you make no promise to write a good review, bad review, or any review at all, unless you feel afterward that you have something to say. Presumably the hosts will feel it’s to their benefit to have you in the house; even if you don’t write a review, your presence keeps you abreast of what the company is up to and provides insight that may be useful to our readers (as well as the company) at some point in the future.
Multiple submissions. Please avoid submitting articles simultaneously to us and other publications. This wastes our time and defeats BSR’s purpose, which is to provide an outlet for material that can’t be published elsewhere. We do not publish material that has been posted elsewhere previously, even if it was only on your blog.
Compensation. We usually pay $50 for a review and up to $100 for a full-length essay, for first publication rights plus the non-exclusive right to store the pieces in our archives. But in most cases we pay writers a maximum stipend of $100 per month, no matter how great the output. Some regulars get more. But no one writes for us for the money. They write for the freedom, the sophisticated showcase, and the professional editing that we offer.
We also promote your work through social media (we have active presences on both Facebook and Twitter), as well as by providing links to your biography, résumé, blog, or personal website from your author profile.
You’re free to peddle your piece elsewhere 90 days after we’ve posted it. You’re also free to post your piece immediately to your own blog or to any other nonprofit website, as long as you provide a functioning link back to the story’s original full URL at broadstreetreview.com. You must also post at the top of the page: “This article has been republished with permission from Broad Street Review,” with Broad Street Review hyperlinked to http://www.broadstreetreview.com.
If writing for BSR isn’t fun, you should cut your losses immediately and invest your time and energy elsewhere. But if this vision appeals to you and you’re interested in writing about the arts, either regularly or irregularly, let me hear from you.
Wendy Rosenfield, Editor in Chief