InPrint Writers’ Guidelines

Who We Are and What We’re Looking For 

The Aquarian InPrint is a tabloid-size newsprint publication, published quarterly on the first week of March, June, September, and December, and distributed free in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and beyond. It currently runs 20 pages, with a circulation of about 9,000 copies and a roughly 50:50 editorial to advertising mix.  (See our Online Submissions Guide for website content.)

Holistic health (natural, complementary, alternative) and progressive environmental, social, cultural, political and spiritual issues are The Aquarian’s major focus. However anything that sheds new light on the path to greater meaning, value, purpose, and fulfillment – personal or social – is potentially grist for our mill. All styles and slants – from serious to light, reverent to irreverent – are welcome. We aim to entertain and enlighten.

We welcome submissions from freelance writers. To get an idea of what we like, check out some back issues.

We are mostly looking for original feature articles, topical opinion pieces, interviews, reviews and book excerpts. Our features and interviews usually run 1500-2500 words; op-eds, 500-1500 words; and reviews, 300-800 words. We particularly value contributions by Winnipeg writers with a local slant.  If you have something else to offer that you think we might like, don’t hesitate to query us.

How to Approach Us 

If you have an article idea, please query first before attempting to write it for us. If you already have a completed piece, just email it to us.

If you’re an inexperienced writer, learn the ABCs of journalistic writing (aka “freelance writing”) before you query us. You should at least have a basic idea of how to write a query letter or an outline/proposal, what a lead (aka “lede”) is and why it’s so important, and the need to present familiar subjects from a fresh “angle.”

We also would like to see at least one or two samples of your writing, published or not. If you have published samples, please include an example of your unpublished work too – perhaps a submitted manuscript along with the final published article. (Links to online samples are just fine.) Pick any examples you may have that are as close as possible in style and subject matter to Aquarian material. The samples – and the writing quality of your query/proposal – will help us assess your ability to write for us. If you’re a skilled writer looking for us to assign stories to you, also tell us about the Aquarian-related expertise, interests or experience you have – the kinds of subjects you’d like to write about.

Please email your queries to Kristi Dorian our managing editor. (To submit ideas for online publication please visit our Online Submission Guidelines.) If you already have a finished manuscript to submit, please submit it as a .docx, .odt, .rtf, or text file, or better yet simply paste it right into the body of your email. Please use just one space between sentences, avoid weird fonts and “look at me” formatting because we have to strip all of that out anyway. There’s rarely any need for anything other than bold, italics and bullets if your piece requires them.

We regret that it can take us a month or longer to review your query and get back to you. If you feel the subject is time-sensitive, tell us and we’ll try to respond ASAP or within any deadline you need to give us (so you can resubmit it elsewhere). If we’re dragging our feet, don’t hesitate to remind us. You’re welcome to submit your idea simultaneously to other publications; but do tell us if you are.

Payment and Terms 

We wish we could pay writers at least as much for their labours as most semi-skilled labourers earn. We wish we could pay ourselves those rates. But, like most small, unfunded specialty publications, we can’t do that without becoming The ex-Aquarian.

All submissions are reviewed and evaluated by our expert editor(s). Payment quotes are at the discretion of the editor in collaboration with the publisher/owner of The Aquarian. Generally, the more work, research, talent, and skill you invest in the article; the more original, topical and in sync with our editorial slant and needs your submission is; and the less we have to put into editing, rewriting, fact-checking, and so on, the more we pay. We also pay higher on the scale to writers who are just writers, i.e., they’re not also promoting a personal business or service through their article, as when a therapist writes an article on her specialty. We do this not to punish the second kind of writer, from whom we welcome submissions, but to try and equalise the net return all our contributors receive for their efforts.

If we accept your proposal but have little or no prior experience with your work, we’ll have to ask you to write the article “on spec.” What that means is that we can’t promise to accept your manuscript unless it lives up to expectations. On the other hand, if you do have a track record that inspires our confidence, we’ll assign the article to you and you’ll be guaranteed a “kill fee” in the rare event that we decide not to publish it even if you have delivered the goods. The kill fee is a percent of what we would have paid for the article had we accepted it. We try to pay within a few weeks of publication.

We reserve first serial rights to publish the article within our circulation area (Manitoba) and on our website with a link to your website and/or email address, if you have one, in your bionote (bionote not included with very short items). The scope of those first rights is negotiable; mostly, we don’t want to pay our full rate if our readers may see it elsewhere first. We pay about half our full rate for reviews and about one-third to one-half for reprints or simultaneous first rights (as with a syndicated column).

At times we may only be able to offer an honourarium – for example, for something we like but don’t particularly need.

We also offer contributors the option of receiving ad space credit in lieu of cash payment.

Working with Us 

While we prefer experienced writers who turn in manuscripts that need little rewriting or editing, we sometimes work with nonprofessionals or not terribly skilled writers whose manuscripts require major work before they meet our publication standards. Even the best writer’s manuscript will usually generate multiple queries and suggestions to tweak it a few steps closer to a reasonable ideal.

Often, Aquarian articles are somewhat of a collaboration – in some cases with very little input from us, in other cases a great deal. But we prefer to let you do as much of the work as possible. If there are problems, we’d rather just point them out, perhaps make a suggestion or two, and let you fix them yourself. That said, some contributors have the content, but not the writing ability or the desire to keep trying. In these cases, we either have to take over the wheel and bring it home ourselves or reject it.

We respect your right to see a published article of which you feel proud to be the bylined writer, so we make it a priority to achieve a meeting of minds before each article goes to print. The final edited version of the manuscript is always presented to you for review, correction and approval. After that, only very minor tweaking may occur as the approved manuscript is proofed and converted into the published article. In the odd event that we wish to make a more substantive change, we will try and get your approval before the issue goes to print.

We look forward to receiving your submissions!

A Note on Plagiarism

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Surprisingly, some writers appear to be unacquainted with the concept of plagiarism, or to pretend they are. We have a zero tolerance policy for stealing or paraphrasing other writers’ work without giving credit. We expect your submission to be 95% original, with 5% quoted sources. So before you submit to us, bone up on this very naughty misdemeanour so you don’t do it yourself. Just punch plagiarism into Google, and you’re on your way.

What we like to know from your query/outline 

Feel free to approach us initially with a very brief query – as short as a few sentences, an “elevator spiel,” if you will. If we’re interested, we’ll ask for more details or a full outline, which should include something approximating all or most of the following elements (don’t be overwhelmed; just try and absorb the gist of what we need from you):

In a short paragraph or a sentence or two, give us a kind of mission statement for your proposed “story” (article, opinion piece or column, essay, etc.). What’s your purpose in writing this particular article? E.g.:  In my article I will cite widely accepted evidence to warn women of childbearing age to avoid tuna, swordfish, and other high-mercury foods that can damage their fetuses. Many women are still unaware of this danger. This safe and simple measure could prevent much unnecessary suffering.

How does your story tell readers something they don’t already know, but probably should? What makes your story unique and valuable? Outline the content of your story as you currently envision it. Add detail where it would help us appreciate what you have to offer.

How could your story be presented to make it attract and interest our readers? E.g.:

  • Provide us with a possible headline and subhead (these should attract reader interest without misrepresenting or hyping the contents)
  • Write a sample lead (the first paragraph or two implicitly communicates to readers why they should read on
  • or if the article is not for them). This should also show us the kind of style and tone you’ll use to write the article
  • Are there any visuals (usually photos) you could provide to help illustrate or draw people into the story?

What’s your relationship to the subject(s) of your story? Are you an:

  • Independent writer?
  • Believer/advocate?
  • Practitioner/salesperson?
  • Protagonist/subject?
  • Independent expert?
  • Do you have a potential conflict of interest we should know about? Is the subject of the story a friend, colleague, great-grandmother?
  • Other?

Where will your content come from? Specify your sources:

  • Personal experience?
  • First- or second-hand info or anecdotes from other people?
  • Named sources you’ll be interviewing?
  • Written sources?

Roughly how many words do you think you’ll need to concisely tell your story? Very briefly cite what, if any, background you have as a writer and/or in the subject area of your story.

Send us published or unpublished samples of your writing (or links to them), noting if a sample is edited or unedited and where and when it was published or written.

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