Submissions FAQ

How much do you pay?

Online Rates

Standard – $0.11/word up to $300
Reported – $0.22/word up to $600

Print Rates

Standard – $0.13/word up to $650
Reported – $0.26/word up to $1300

Fixed Rates


Online – $150
Print – $300


Online – 1 short poem, $75; multiple poems or 1 long poem ( >50 lines), $150
Print – $300 poetry budget per issue, to be divided proportionally between any poets published (usually goes to one poet for multiple poems)

What’s your kill fee policy?

Strange Matters reserves the right to reject writing completed on our behalf if it fails to meet our standards of quality. However, we believe any situation like this would have been partly our own failure as editors, and that it should be an industry standard to compensate writers fairly for any labor contributed to a magazine. If you have submitted us a draft of a piece after we’ve committed in writing to taking something from you, we guarantee you 50% of what we would have paid you (at the appropriate rate for the piece) as a kill fee. We will not pay kill fees for drafts submitted initially to us instead of pitches, only for any pieces which (1.) we have formally accepted in writing and (2.) have undergone at least one round of editing/review from us, subsequently resulting in (3.) a writer having submitted at least one draft in response to our edits. (Drafts which we have encouraged people to submit for our consideration and judgment, for example, have not yet been accepted and would not incur a kill fee if rejected.)

How do you calculate word count?

Because we pay by the word up to the pay cap for each rate, word count is extremely important to keep consistent. For our accounting purposes, word count means the base text of an article’s published words, not counting titles, headers, footnotes, or block quotes. Importantly, in a magazine that prides itself on digressive footnotes, this means that any footnotes are unpaid. This is a practical consideration to avoid having to get into controversies over which footnotes are “really” writing and which are “merely” citations. Some of our writers don’t use footnotes at all; others use them to preserve at least some information that would otherwise be cut for word count or stylistic reasons; and yet others treat them as an indulgent treat after completing the main writing.

Why the pay caps?

For practical budgetary reasons, before instituting pay caps we had to be very strict about word caps, aggressively trimming down the length of pieces by freelance contributors in order to accommodate our high rates. While writers appreciate the high pay rate, they’ve told us they often also appreciate the ability to “go long.” To resolve these competing demands, after much trial and error, we’ve developed a system for capping pay at a maximum level corresponding to a word count that very few writers for each section (online or print) reach anyway, such that we can inform those who want to “go long” what the maximum pay would be for this before they’ve had to write anything. This helps us avoid unpleasantly surprising our writers, publish longer pieces, and stay within budget so we can pay all our writers decently.

Why publish your rates?

Two reasons. First, we want to bid up the price of good writing. Second, we want to show how our economic model gives us true editorial independence. To elaborate on each of these:

Writers in the world of little magazines — including, unfortunately, the world of independent left-wing little magazines — are not paid nearly enough, and we want to raise the price of high-quality long-form writing.

Furthermore, we think it constitutes an important economic argument about costs of production. Anyone can tell you there are some places that’ll have higher rates than us: much larger venues with economies of scale, or equally sized venues that don’t have to be profitable because they have foundation or oligarch patronage and can be run at a loss. But we are a worker cooperative that successfully pays its bills entirely out of our own subscription revenues and (very sporadically) small-scale donations, and we want to publicly show the kind of pay rates which are actually possible given the actual cost-structure of a truly financially and editorially independent alternative media outlet. Plenty of places in our tier can do better. Our public price schedule exists to prove that.

Practically speaking, we hope this will:

(a.) cajole subscription-funded independent media outlets of a similar size and cost structure to at least match our rates;
(b.) show prospective writers that our rates are superior to those of many similar magazines and even surprisingly competitive with those of larger publications or oligarch-funded media; and
(c.) give would-be editors who dream of starting their own alternative media the confidence that they can in fact both be financially/editorially independent and pay their writers fair rates — because we’ve proven it can be done.

Our overall goal, therefore, is to encourage the creation of more independent left-wing media cooperatives such as ourselves. As our own cooperative grows in scale and revenue, we hope to continually revise these rates to reflect improving conditions: always upwards, never downwards.

What is ‘reporting’?

This is a great philosophical question — though for our magazine’s accounting purposes, we’ve boiled it down to as simple an answer as we can, since ticking this box doubles your pay rate.

For us, reporting consists of the specialized skill of going somewhere out of your usual way to talk to people, record their responses systematically, and use their verbatim responses as the main set of information sources for your essay. Reporting must be as accurate and precise as possible in its statements of fact, including (especially) the precise words used by sources in their interviews. This is to be distinguished from analysis or commentary, which is using existing books and articles as sources to discuss current affairs; as well as from memoir or personal essays, which reflect on your own past experiences from memory and have looser requirements when quoting people (even admitting of such techniques as fictionalization, composite characters, etc).

Analysis, commentary, memoir, personal essays, and indeed most writing we publish will be at the standard rate; only pieces that fit the bill described above will be paid at the reporting rate. We will always let a writer know ahead of time whether we count their proposed piece as reporting or not, and are willing to kill a piece or bump it down to the standard rate if it doesn’t meet those standards (though we’ve never yet had to do so).

Who can submit to the magazine?

Anyone. We have published amateurs, hobbyists, working-class people, people from marginalized identities, young people, students, and first-time writers. We’ve also published professional journalists, academics, public intellectuals, cultural critics, social movement activists, and technical specialists. If we see potential in what you propose, we will work with you to publish it – though we may have to work with you to get it up to snuff, and we often encourage writers with less experience to cut their teeth on shorter formats like those in our Futon section before taking on larger projects for us. Regardless of experience, we are committed to paying all writers at the above rates. ~

Strange Matters is a cooperative magazine of new and unconventional thinking in economics, politics, and culture.