Writer FAQs

Why should anthropologists write for SAPIENS?
What is the usual process for pieces, from pitch to publication?
Who is SAPIENS really trying to reach?
How do I pitch SAPIENS (or other popular magazines and newspapers)?
What makes for a great essay?
What makes for a great op-ed?
How long will it take for my piece to be published?
Why aren’t all the development editors anthropologists?
Who has editorial authority over my article?
How does SAPIENS choose which images accompany its articles?
Does good storytelling matter more than the facts?
Does SAPIENS publish articles in non-English languages?
Where do I find SAPIENS’ style guide?
Where do I find SAPIENS’ Terms of Use?

Why should anthropologists write for SAPIENS?

There are lots of great reasons: to make your voice heard, to help shape the world, to develop the craft of writing. We make our arguments, fittingly, in the SAPIENS article, “Why Write for SAPIENS.”

What is the usual process for pieces, from pitch to publication?

Below is an outline of our usual process. Please note that there may be exceptions.

Who is SAPIENS really trying to reach?

While we know anthropologists read SAPIENS, our primary audience is the general, adult public—picture your neighbor, your dentist, your family friend. Assume your audience is intelligent but knows nothing about the subject at hand. So, you must explain/define all terms and provide a lot of context, without insulting anyone’s intelligence. Most of our readers are looking for stories that capture their imagination during their moments of leisure. We also publish translations of articles for non-English speaking audiences.

sapiens readership 2020

How do I pitch SAPIENS (or other popular magazines and newspapers)?

Most public-oriented magazines and newspapers require potential writers to “pitch” their idea. We offer a summary of the process in this article, “How to Pitch SAPIENS.”

What makes for a great essay?

No magic formula is known (to us, at least). But read our overview: How to Write an Essay: A Guide for Anthropologists.

What makes for a great op-ed?

Most op-eds have a fairly standard structure: a catchy opening that includes a statement about your credentials and viewpoint; a central section that offers evidence or arguments for your viewpoint and acknowledges at least one counter-argument; and then a closing that offers your take away. For more advice, check out these tips and tricks.

How long will it take for my piece to be published?

On very rare occasions, we run pieces that are tied to news or current events within three weeks after a pitch is submitted. Our production process more typically lasts about three months. We work to move through pieces as quickly as possible, but we are a small staff and publish only two or three pieces per week. The timing of your piece will vary depending on the amount of editing required, the number of pieces we’re working on at any given moment, the relevance of your piece to what’s going on in the news, and other factors. If you ever wonder about the status of your piece, or have a specific publication date in mind, please let us know!

Why aren’t all the development editors anthropologists?

While some of our development editors are anthropologists, all of them are experts in journalistic writing, offering their skills and insights to help bring pieces to life. In addition, in a real sense, our editors are like our readers: smart people craving to understand their world in new ways but who have limited or no background in anthropology. In other words, the editors are a kind of first test of whether we anthropologists are explaining ourselves clearly and convincingly to non-anthropologists.

Who has editorial authority over my article?

We take our team approach seriously and always strive for consensus. We otherwise operate on the magazine model, in which the editorial staff can make final decisions regarding wording, adherence to our house style, the title and teaser (the hed and dek), and promotion strategies. But know that we are fundamentally dedicated to accuracy and want you to be as proud of the piece as we are.

How does SAPIENS choose which images accompany its articles?

The editorial team selects the images with input from the authors. We give it a lot of thought, as you can read in this article, “The Power of Images.”

Does good storytelling matter more than the facts?

Use the tools of storytelling. But style should never come at the expense of accuracy, facts, and the truth. SAPIENS publishes nonfiction. Fabrication and plagiarism are never acceptable. Every article is fact-checked as part of the overall copy-editing process. Authors help by submitting an annotated version of their articles. Here is the SAPIENS Writer Guide for Annotated Drafts.

Does SAPIENS publish articles in non-English languages?

Yes! See our Writer Guide for Translations.

Where do I find SAPIENS’ style guide?

Right here.

Where do I find SAPIENS’ Terms of Use?

Right here.