Writer's Guidelines for U.S. Catholic
U.S. Catholic is happy to accept unsolicited submissions. At the same time, nearly all of our content is commissioned by the editors, and we accept very few unsolicited manuscripts. In addition, due to the high volume of submissions, it may take at least six to eight weeks for a manuscript to receive a response. Authors may submit a complete article or a fleshed-out idea; links to published clips are helpful. To familiarize yourself with the kinds of articles we run in U.S. Catholic, please spend some time browsing our issue archive.
Types of articles published in U.S. Catholic:
FEATURE ARTICLES cover current trends on issues such as prayer and spirituality, sacraments, liturgy, parish life, family life, social issues, public life, theology, and other aspects of an everyday Catholic's life. Articles range from 2,500 to 3,200 words and should include general background on the topic and extensive interviews with a variety of people in the pew and experts. All articles should have an explicit religious dimension, enabling readers to see the interaction between their faith and the issue at hand. Please note: U.S. Catholic does not publish feature articles about individual people, organizations, or programs/ministries. Minimum payment is $500. A sample can be found here
Stand-alone ESSAYS generally range from 700 to 1,600 words and present thoughtful reflections or opinions on concerns Catholics face or suggest new ways of dealing with an old subject of interest to lay Catholics. Minimum payment is $200. A sample can be found here.
SOUNDING BOARD is a monthly feature in which a writer makes an argument on a specific issue which can have multiple viewpoints. The article is posted online along with a reader survey prior to publication and the results of the survey and a sampling of readers' comments are then published along with the article in the magazine. The Sounding Board article is a strongly worded opinion piece on an issue of importance to U.S. Catholic readers in which the author argues one side of a many-sided subject and outlines a plan of action. The more strongly argued, the better. Articles range from 1,200 to 1,400 words and payment is $300. A sample can be found here.
In the PRACTICING CATHOLIC column, the author focuses on a particular Catholic tradition, devotion, ritual, doctrine, or the like to reclaim the value of the topic for Catholics today. In other words, the goal of this column is to help readers understand a piece of Catholic heritage and tap into its present value. The author should include a personal account of why the practice is important in his or her life and how he or she practices it, and then briefly examine the history of the practice and why it was valued in the past, explain its meaning, and, most importantly, express how it transmits meaning for contemporary Catholics. The piece should not be primarily a history of the subject or an exhortation to everyone to reclaim it. Length is 900 words, with a 200-word sidebar on some aspect of the practice. This column appears four times per year. Payment is $200. A sample can be found here.
IN PERSON personality profiles tell readers how particular Catholics are living their faith in today's world. The subjects of our profiles are people who are doing creative, innovative things in their life's work and reflect the diversity of Catholics in the United States. Although sometimes the subjects are recognizable, or even famous, more often they are ordinary people, but always with extraordinary stories and lives. An In Person profile is not a biography of the subject but rather a brief capsule that illustrates, through personal details and events in the subject's life, the personality, importance, and faith of the subject. These profiles are approximately 800 words and include a pull-out box with a four to six "quick-take" questions. This department appears four times per year. Payment is $200. A sample can be found here.
In a WISE GUIDE essay, the author introduces a spiritually significant individual from the Catholic tradition and gives a personal account of why his or her spirituality is meaningful today. The significant individual can be a saint from long ago, a well-known historical figure, or a modern Catholic who is no longer with us, from all walks of life. The author should provide readers with pertinent biographical information on the subject while explaining how the subject has been a guide for author and can be a guide to all Catholics today. The author should have a personal connection with the subject and be able to highlight a unique aspect of his or her spirituality with which readers can also resonate. Length is 750 words plus a quote from the subject and list of four additional resources. Wise Guides appears four times per year. Payment is $200. A sample can be found here.
GLAD YOU ASKED is a brief monthly article that presents an informed and enlightened response to a basic question of Catholic doctrine, history, identity, and/or pastoral practice. Responding to the need of Catholics today for solid information about their tradition, GYA does not assume prior knowledge or preconceived notions on the part of readers but only the desire of people to connect their deep human yearnings with the church and its tradition. The article begins with a straightforward question such as "Why does Lent have 40 days?" Length is 450 words. Minimum payment is $100. A sample can be found here.
REVIEWS summarize and critique a book (fiction or non-fiction), movie, or musical work. The content of the work does not have to be specifically religious. Reviews should provide a brief summary of content with a greater emphasis on critique. Length is 350 words. Minimum payment is $75. Samples can be found here.
SHORT STORIES. Unsolicited short stories are welcome, although U.S. Catholic does not frequently publish fictional works. Topics vary, but unpublished fiction should be no longer than 1,500 words and should include strong characters and cause readers to stop for a moment and consider their relationships with others, the world, and/or God. Specifically religious themes are not required; subject matter is not restricted. Email email@example.com. Usually respond in 8-10 weeks. Minimum payment is $300. A sample can be found here.
POETRY. Submit 3 to 5 original, unpublished poems. We are not necessarily looking for religious themes. Subject matter and form are not restricted, but we generally prefer no more than 50 lines per poem. We are looking for high quality poetry; no light verse. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the high volume of poetry we receive, it often takes 10 to 12 weeks to receive a response. Payment is $75 per poem. A sample can be found here.
U.S. Catholic does not accept submissions to the following departments and columns: Editors' Note, The Examined Life, Signs of the Times, Catholic Tastes, Expert Witness, Testaments, Culture in Context (except reviews), Margin Notes, At Home With Our Faith, Eye of the Beholder.
If you are interested in writing any of these articles, please email the editors of U.S. Catholic with a suggested angle or outline. Include some writing samples if possible.
Our address: U.S. Catholic, 205 W. Monroe St., Chicago, IL 60606