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Where Do They Come From?
Our Submissions Process De-mystified
by Chris Youngs

Each month, Dragon’s digital pages are filled with twelve to fifteen articles. They range in length from two pages to ten. They cover as wide a range of topics as we can cram into the space allotted. (While we don’t worry about page count in digital space, we do worry about our budget and word count.)

Where do articles come from? How do we decide what makes an issue? Trevor Kidd, our community manager, has been poking me for months to write an editorial about these topics. “Chris, the people want to know our process!” he’ll say. To which I reply, “Why? It’s kind of boring.”

But he’s insistent and he has posts on the forums to support him, so I’m caving. If you're bored, blame Trevor.

It begins with the submissions inbox, If you have a great idea, if you spot some D&D topic that needs elaboration, or if you just want a new toy for your favorite character, this is where to start. Here are a few more tips:

  • When you send us an email with your pitch, be interesting! We all think our ideas are fascinating—I’m no exception. Go a step further, and ask yourself whether your idea will be interesting to gamerdom at large. If you’re playing a dhampyr shadar-kai hybrid rogue/cleric who specializes in using the khopesh, that’s awesome. If you pitch us new khopesh feats for dhampyr shadar-kai hybrid rogue/clerics, you’ll have a hard time making the case. That article might be super great for your character, but you might be the only one playing that combo. (Scratch that—that sounds cool enough to be my next character. The point still stands.) It's also always a good idea to hone your ideas with friends or the regulars at the local game store.
  • Once you have a solid idea, work up that email. Put the magazine you’re targeting in the subject line (Dragon runs player content, Dungeon runs DM content). Include the name of the article series that your pitch is intended for, if any. For example, if you’re writing a Class Acts: Fighter article for Dragon, the subject line should convey that information. It’s okay to send multiple proposals in a single email; note the number of pitches in the subject line as well. A strong subject line helps us pluck your email from the swarm.
  • Describe your article as concisely and clearly as possible. A pitch is not a full article or even an outline. A few hundred words (300 or fewer) should suffice. If it doesn’t, you’re explaining too much or your idea is too complicated.
  • Have a friend proofread your email before hitting send. You’re sending a resume to a potential employer who's hiring writers; typos and unclear language hurt your chances.

Once your pitch hits our inbox, we’ll read it and decide yes, no . . . or maybe. If we're not interested, you won't hear from us. Like most large publishers, we get too many proposals to send even form rejections. If we're interested, you’ll get an email asking for an outline, along with requests for changes, within sixty days. In the case of a maybe, you might not hear from us for longer than our normal sixty-day waiting period, but then you’ll get an email out of the blue. This is because we flagged your pitch as interesting but not something we can use in the next several months (usually because it's related to an unreleased or even unannounced product).

Once we contact you, we’ll go back and forth over several drafts of the outline, hammering out the minutiae. There will be some paperwork at this stage, including a confidentiality agreement and a contract. The contract will include a deadline, and we expect you to hit it. As with the outline, expect to be asked for several revisions on your article. Once it gets the green light, you’ll get paid and the article will see the light of day, to be thoughtfully and considerately critiqued by your fellow members of the online community. Ahem.

All in all, it’s a simple process. I hope you’re all inspired to send us some fresh pitches. Our content is for you, by you—fan contributions are what make these magazines so fantastic. Stay tuned to the D&D Insider and Dungeons & Dragons community pages, because we’re going to post requests for specific topics there. But if you have a great idea that's all yours, don't be shy about suggesting it. We can't print what we don't receive.

Above all, if we don't reply to your submission, don't get discouraged. Keep sending, keep writing, and keep playing!

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