Who We Are
For almost five years, The Bitter Southerner has covered the American South from a modern perspective. Our goal is to bring to light stories, places, organizations, and people that do not fit the national media's standard narratives and stereotypes about the South. We aggressively try to bring multicultural voices and points of view into The Bitter Southerner, so that it can reflect the many cultures that together create our region's culture today.
What We Publish
Currently, The Bitter Southerner publishes three written stories per week, one in each of the following categories. Please use the appropriate form beneath the guidelines to submit.
Our Tuesday features typically range from 2,500 to 5,000 words. Base rate: $500. We also hire a photographer or illustrator for many Tuesday features. Base rate: $500.
Every Wednesday, we publish a personal essay/story from a Bitter Southerner reader, typically ranging from 500 to 1,500 words. We sometimes publish photographs, audio recordings, and — effective January 1, 2019 — videos of no more than five minutes. No compensation, but much love.
From the Southern Perspective
Every Thursday, we publish a short feature story, cultural perspective piece, interview, or opinion piece. These stories range from 1,000 to 3,000 words. Base rate: $150.
Occasionally, The Bitter Southerner publishes standalone films on Fridays. Base rate: $100.
A Note to Public Relations Professionals: Please do not use this system to pitch story ideas to the editors of The Bitter Southerner. If you believe your client's story is worthy of our Tuesday feature slot, your chances will increase if you first convince one of our regular contributors to pitch that story to us — instead of pitching directly to the editors. If, however, you believe your client's story should be brought to the attention of BS staff, you should contact our managing editor or social media editor, as appropriate.
One Exception: If your client is a band or solo musician, and you would like us to consider debuting a music video, we occasionally do that on Fridays in our Moving Stories section. Please use the specific form for video debuts.
- Every story we publish should reflect its author's perspective on the American South — even if that perspective is from afar. But the writer should always have a felt connection with this region, regardless of time lived here.
- Make every effort to write a subject line for your submission that, by itself, communicates why we might be interested in your story.
- The guideline above proceeds from the fact that the volume of our submissions exceeds our staff's capacity to evaluate all of them quickly. We do our best to respond to submissions within three months, but we frequently fall short.
- Few stories of any kind in The Bitter Southerner are "timely" in the way newspaper stories are. But sometimes, we must publish pieces in response to events in the news. If you believe your story is time-sensitive — either as a response to a very recent event, or if it is linked to an upcoming event or milestone — please ensure your subject line reflects that. A note to writers who would like to propose stories for our "From the Southern Perspective" section in response to a recent event: Please forgo this system and contact our managing editor directly.
- We allow profanity, but please ensure it serves the story's effectiveness.
- If your work has been published twice or more as a Tuesday feature or in "From the Southern Perspective," you should also forgo this system and contact the managing editor or editor-in-chief directly. If you've worked for us twice, you already know how to do that.
We prefer written pitches in the neighborhood of 350 words. Please ensure your pitch tells the editors:
- What your story is about and why The Bitter Southerner's audience would read it.
- Something about the main characters in your story and The Bitter Southerner's should know about them.
- How you propose to gather material. For instance, we'd like to know how much access you will have to your subjects, or your plan to gain that access; how much reporting time you will need before beginning writing; how much or whether you will need to travel; etc.
- When you could deliver a first draft.
A note: Please don't read the above and conclude you should answer the four questions in strict order. We love pitches that integrate the needed information into a coherent whole. We hope your pitch displays a bit of the style and tone you plan to bring to your story.
A second note: If it is reasonable to assume the BS's editors have never read your writing, please also give us writing samples as indicated.
This form is reserved for photographers and illustrators whose work we have never published in a Tuesday feature or photo essay. If you believe your photography meets the standards you see in The Bitter Southerner's Tuesday feature stories, we'd like to see your portfolio.
You will not receive an acceptance or a rejection notice after submitting here. Our creative director will be in touch if we have an assignment that's right for you.
If you are, however, proposing a photo essay of your work for our Tuesday feature story, this form allows you to upload up to 10 images and to give us your written pitch for why the series merits the Tuesday feature treatment. If your proposal for a photo essay is accepted, our editors and creative director will work with you to determine what sort of writing would be required to accompany your photos.
For this section, we accept personal essays, photographs, sound recordings, or — effective January 1, 2019 — videos of five minutes or shorter. You do not have to be a "pro" for your work to be accepted into The Bitter Southerner.
We regret that The Bitter Southerner does not yet have sufficient budget to pay contributors to our Folklore Project. But if your submission is accepted, it will be treated with respect and broadcast to a growing audience.
Every Thursday, we publish a short feature story, cultural perspective piece, interview, or opinion piece. These stories range from 1,000 to 3,000 words.
We prefer writers for this section to pitch us an idea in this form. However, we also review completed pieces.
This form is reserved for filmmakers who would like to publish their finished work in The Bitter Southerner's Moving Stories section.
This form is reserved for music publicists or artists requesting a debut in The Bitter Southerner's Moving Stories section.