Submission Guidelines

So, you want to write for Asparagus. Great! We want that too.

Before we go any further, you should read the Asparagus Manifesto, if you haven’t already.

Now that you’ve read the Manifesto, you should have a sense of what Asparagus is about. But you may still be wondering: “what kinds of stories do you publish?” It might be easier to start with what we’re not looking for:

  • Breaking news
  • Hot takes
  • Greenwashing

There are plenty of publications out there publishing all of those things, and Asparagus is not trying to compete with any of them. Let a hundred hot takes sizzle, on someone else’s site. Our goal is to publish content that tends toward the evergreen. (Evergreen, get it? Sorry not sorry, we will never not love a pun.)

What we’re looking for

So what are we interested in? Lots of things!

  • Traditionally reported feature journalism, creative non-fiction, and personal essays/opinion pieces on environmental and social justice topics (including, but not limited to: food, and feminism; art, culture, and agriculture; anti-racist and anti-pipeline activism; trans issues and transit; wildlife refuges and refugees; social change and climate change… you get the idea.)
  • Science. We love it. Hit us with your science, baby.
  • Lifestyle tips rooted in science. Do you have a green-living strategy or product you’re dying to write about? Asparagus could be the right place to do that, as long as your lifehack is backed by solid research.
  • Stories about individuals, businesses, and organizations working to make our world better (Caveat: if the biz/folk you want to write about are doing something unique or innovative, we’re interested, no matter where in the world they are. If it’s more a case of a local company following an established model of sustainable business — say, a farm-to-table restaurant — for now it needs to be on the West Coast of North America to be published in Asparagus.)
  • Stories about individuals, local businesses, and groups on the West Coast taking initiative on sustainability
  • Writing about the natural world and the threats it faces
  • Humo(u)r — that’s right, Canadian and American spelling are both welcome here.
  • Your awesome ideas that aren’t listed above

For online articles, we’re most interested in pieces in the 800–1,500-word range. There will be exceptions, but they will be few. Each print issue includes a handful of features that run into 2,000-3,000-word territory. (Hint to folks just getting their start: we love nurturing new talent, but if you’re new to Gus and to freelancing, we’ll likely want to work with you on a shorter piece before considering feature pitches.)

If you’re a writer from a group that’s underrepresented in the media, your voice is not only welcome at Asparagus, it is top priority.

We’re committed to featuring not only a wide diversity of stories, but as wide a range of writing voices as possible. The movement to build a just society on a healthy planet is not made up only of wealthy, white cis-het people (by any stretch!), and we’re not interested in creating a publication that makes it seem like it is. If you’re a writer (aspiring or established) from a group that’s underrepresented in the media, your voice is not only welcome at Asparagus, it is top priority. Please get in touch.

What we pay

Important! Asparagus pays ALL writers. Equally important: it’s a startup. So the pay is not as high as we hope it will be some day. We negotiate rates with individual writers based on the amount and nature of reporting going into a specific piece. To date we average about C$0.25/word, but rates do vary. Please reach out even if you’re used to earning more, and we’ll figure out what’s possible. If you’re concerned about the low end, we’ve never paid less than C$0.15/word.)

Our goal is to increase fees whenever that proves financially possible. In the meantime, we guarantee a supportive, collaborative, and rigorous editing process to ensure your published piece—and your writing experience—are the best they can be. We also pay promptly.

How to pitch

  • Email your pitch to asparagusmagazine [at] gmail [dot] com, and include the word “pitch” in the subject line.
  • Make your pitch 2–4 paragraphs long and as specific as you can. Please include the following:
    • A thesis or topic sentence/nut graf
    • Intended sources (both research sources and potential interview subjects)
    • The news hook, if any
    • The kind of piece you’re proposing — essay, reportage, Q&A, etc.
    • Estimated word length
    • Whether you’re a Canadian citizen or permanent resident (Our audience is not limited to Canada, and we’re absolutely interested in stories from other places. However, we also get funding from the Canadian government that requires us to prioritize Canadian creators. So, do send us your pitches, but understand that we can only publish so much from non-Canadians.)
  • If you’ve never written for Asparagus, please include three links to previously published work. If you’ve never been published, that’s ok, but please do send along at least one writing sample. If your writing isn’t available online, you can send it as an attachment, but please don’t send zip files or Dropbox links, we won’t open them.
  • You can also submit full-length, previously unpublished articles, but please still include information in the body of the email like what is requested above for new commissions, so we can get a sense of the piece without reading the whole thing.
  • Start your pitch by telling us the tastiest thing you’ve eaten recently. That way we know you’ve actually read through all the guidelines. Wish we didn’t have to ask this, but it’s amazing how many people don’t take the time. Thank you for making the effort!

More info about pitching

  • We aim to respond to pitches within two weeks. We do our best to respond to everyone, so if you don’t hear back from us, odds are that either your pitch was filtered into a spam folder, or that it was so far off from what we request in these guidelines that it seemed like spam. Either way, feel free to re-send (and follow these guidelines if you didn’t the first time).
  • At this time, the Asparagus audience is primarily on the West Coast, in both Canada and the US. This will inform our decision-making, so is worth keeping in mind when you pitch.
  • For now, we’re not looking to re-publish previously published works (this includes pieces that are self-published on a blog or Medium). If that changes, we’ll let you know.

Thank you so much for your interest. We on the Asparagus team look forward to hearing from you soon!