Briarpatch Magazine publishes writing and artwork on a wide range of topics, including current events, grassroots activism, electoral politics, economic justice, ecology, labour, food security, gender equity, Indigenous struggles, international solidarity, and other issues of political importance.
We welcome pitches from unpublished writers, seasoned freelancers, front-line activists, and anyone else with a story to tell and a desire to tell it compellingly. We ask that you research your topic thoroughly, back up your expressed opinions with verifiable facts and persuasive arguments, interview a range of relevant sources as the topic requires, and hold on to relevant documentation for fact-checking purposes. Briarpatch seeks to explore complex issues in everyday language — please write for a progressive, non-specialist audience that may not necessarily share your assumptions or opinions. Include a short (one- or two-sentence) biography at the end of your article.
We’ve compiled a guide to pitching Briarpatch. Please take a look at what we look for before you submit a pitch.
Unsolicited submissions are welcome, but we encourage you to first send us a pitch. Your pitch should outline what ground your contribution will cover and demonstrate your writing style and tone. Please include your contact information, an estimated word count, a list of recent publications (if applicable), and a short writing sample.
Send your pitches/submissions to pitch[at]briarpatchmagazine.com. Pitch early, Pitch often; we’ll try to get back to you within a week or two following the pitch deadline for the issue you wish to write for.
We aim to reply to every pitch – including those we reject. However, because of time constraints, this isn’t always possible. If you don’t hear back from us within three weeks following the pitch deadline that you submitted a pitch for, please assume that we won’t be accepting your pitch. Feel free to pitch us again, however!
If your work is accepted for publication, you can expect to participate in an intensive, collaborative editing process until consensus is reached between yourself and the editor on a final draft. On average, be prepared to take your submission through two or three rewrites over the course of a month.
Our standard rates of pay for articles are as follows:
- $150 – Profiles, short essays, book reviews, online-only articles, and parting shots (generally 1,500 words or less)
- $250 – Feature stories (generally 1,500-2,000 words) and photo essays
- $350 – Research-based articles and investigative reporting with extensive primary research (generally 2,000-2,500 words)
- September/October 2021: The Prison Abolition Issue — Not acceping pitches
- November/December 2021: The Labour Issue — Pitch deadline: closed
- January/February 2022: Unthemed — Pitch deadline: closed
- March/April 2022: Unthemed – Pitch deadline: November 1, 2021
- May/June 2022: Unthemed – Pitch deadline: January 1, 2021
Check our recent announcements for the latest calls for submissions. To recieve calls for submissions via email, click "subscribe" at the top of the page.
Guidelines for specific departments
(Note: Don’t let these categories limit you — if your pitch doesn’t fit into any of these categories, get in touch anyway. We’re always open to new ideas.)
We publish feature articles on any number of topics and in a range of styles, including non-fiction articles, in-depth news stories, investigative journalism, personal essays, interviews, op-eds, and photo essays. Your pitch should clearly identify the direction you want to take with your article, the question you want to answer, or the point you want to argue. A good pitch will always outline the interviews the writer has done or intends to pursue for the story.
In general, features should be less than 2,500 words. We will occasionally accept longer articles when the topic and the skill of the writer warrant it.
Please keep in mind the key elements of successful magazine writing. Great articles:
- Are driven by characters and told through the eyes of those directly affected (good interviews and quotations are absolutely essential).
- Have a strong narrative voice and a point of view (and tell a story).
- Explore and work through the tensions in the subject matter.
- Show, don’t tell. Arguments are supported with compelling evidence, not diatribe.
- Begin with a compelling anecdote, event, or question (an opening hook).
Is your favourite activist or author visiting your town? Know someone with first-hand experience or expertise on an important issue? Send us your pitch, and we’ll do what we can to help you schedule your interviewee for a Briarpatch interview.
Want to weigh in on an important issue from a new or controversial perspective? Our back page is reserved for 700-800 word thoughtful opinion pieces and well-aimed jabs that will challenge readers to see the world in new and interesting ways. Don’t assume that your audience will necessarily agree with you — always back up your assertions with well-researched facts and well-reasoned arguments.
We publish short (300-1,000 word) reviews of recent books, music, films, and other forms of political media. Your review should give readers a clear sense of what to expect from the work and provide a brief critical appraisal of its merits.
We prioritize reviews of recently published material, small or independent publishers, and/or Canadian publications. We welcome unsolicited reviews, but if you pitch us first we’ll do what we can to arrange a complimentary review copy of the book/album/film for you.
Illustrations & photography
Briarpatch is proud to feature in its pages the work of some of Canada’s best independent and up-and-coming artists and photographers. If you can produce quality artwork (illustration, photography, collage, etc.) within a one- or two-week turnaround time, and are willing to do so for modest compensation (or barter), email us (including samples of your work or a link to your website).
Our standard rates of pay for illustrations are as follows:
- Spot illustrations and spot photos: $100
- Feature illustrations and feature photos: $150
- Cover art: $300
When stories are too time-sensitive for Briarpatch's print schedule, we sometimes publish them online-only. These articles, published once or twice a month, are typically under 1,500 words and they respond to timely developments affecting social movements. Send pitches for online-only stories to pitch [at] briarpatchmagazine.com, with [BLOG PITCH] in the subject line. We pay $150 for online-only stories.
Dawn Paley and Justin Ling, Media Co-op Writer’s Guide
Al Giordano, How to Write a News Story, Narco News (School of Authentic Journalism), February 24, 2010
Justin Podur, Left-wing punditry: Doing & presenting political analysis, Killing Train, October 23, 2008
Patricia Elliott, links to Canadian databases for investigative research
How to write a pitch