So you want to write for American Thinker…

Because there's a lot of confusion about writing for American Thinker, here's a quick walk through our guidelines and writing suggestions. 

American Thinker occupies a special niche in the realm of online conservative thinking because it's the only major conservative outlet that routinely looks to people other than its staff for material. While Thomas Lifson, Monica Showalter, and I contribute blog posts most days, all the long-form articles and at least 50% of the blog posts come from voluntary contributors. This gives American Thinker a unique depth of knowledge and insight. The site's submission guidelines are somewhat hidden, though, so this essay seeks to remedy that.

The guidelines are in the top menu bar under "More." Although you might think you'd get to them by clicking on "Rules/FAQS," that's not the case. Instead, they're under "Contact." You must familiarize yourself with them before submitting anything, but here are the top things people should know:

  • Articles run from 800 to 1,200 words.  We publish only five to six of those a day, so it's going to be more of a challenge for your submission to beat the competition.
  • Blog posts run from 400–800 words.  Because we publish 15–16 of those a day, if you can be brief, you will triple your chances of getting published.
  • We accept only original material.  Even if you published it on your small website or as a Facebook post, with only a dozen readers, it's not original.  We understand that you may be trying out different ways to write about the same topic, but what comes to us must be unique and cannot have been published elsewhere.
  • If you quote someone, be accurate.  If it's a short quote, use quotation marks ("").  If it's a long quote, set it off with italics or bold font.  Always provide the URL or other information identifying the original author.
  • Do not make up quotations, even as satire.  Ours is a factual site.
  • If you make important factual statements, please provide a URL or other source information.  The only exceptions are things that are commonly known ("George Washington was our first president") or as to which you have firsthand knowledge.
  • We will not publish open letters. 
  • Humor must be brilliant.  We don't like poems, parodies, updates of historic documents, or rewritten songs.  We especially don't like sarcasm, which almost always falls flat. Pure wit and well done snark, however, are always welcome.
  • We prefer MS Word documents, although you may send the essay as text within your email.  No PDFs!
  • Include the word SUBMISSION in the email title.
  • Email your submission to editor@americanthinker.com

Every submission goes through an editorial review.  We try to preserve each writer's voice, but these are some suggestions for improving your chances in the review process:

  • Unless you're an experienced writer, use an outline to organize your essay.  Your high school teacher was correct that this is the best way to make sure you prove the elements of your argument and that your ideas have a logical flow.
  • Try to purge passive voice from your writing.  "The boy bought some candy" is a much nicer sentence than "The candy was bought by the boy."  Do a word search for "by" and "of" to help you find passive-voice sentences.
  • Don't turn verbs into nouns.  Verbs are exciting, nouns flat.  "She introduced her friend to the teacher" is punchier than "She provided her friend with an introduction to the teacher."  A word search for "ion" often reveals a lot of culprits. 
  • Don't be afraid of possessives.  "The dog's ball" is better than "The ball of the dog."
  • You don't need to be a "fancy" writer to submit things to us.  Part of Thomas Sowell's genius, for example, is that he presents complicated ideas in simple terms, without ever dumbing things down.
  • Be civil. Again, wit and snark can bite and add power and liveliness, but an essay filled with invective and insults gets boring.

This is shaping up to be a crazy year, and while we try hard, we cannot be masters of every bit of political and social information out there.  We are always grateful for knowledgeable, thoughtful, and entertaining essays.  If you've thought about submitting something to American Thinker, this may be your year.

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