How to Pitch the Order of the Good Death


So, you want to write for us? Great! Here’s a handy guide, to help you know more about what we’re looking for (and also what we aren’t looking for).


There are two kinds of people in this world, folks that want to write for The Order, and ones that…don’t. If you fall into the latter category, no need to read further! Instead, go watch a fun makeup tutorial, or listen to our podcast!

For the rest of you, please read on.


Most of our advocacy centers on the ways we think about, remember, and interact with our dead, so the pieces we publish will reflect this. We do not feature pieces that have been published elsewhere.

How to Pitch

Email

Email pitches to our editor and director, Sarah Chavez at deathsubmissions@gmail.com

Be sure to include “pitch” in your subject line. If your pitch is about a current event or timely subject, you can also include “time sensitive” in your subject line and we’ll do our best to look it over ASAP.

Summary

In 2-3 paragraphs let us know why your piece is a perfect fit for The Order, and give us some details. Don’t forget to tell us why you are the best person to write it, or what particular insight you’ll be able to lend to the subject.

References

Include links to previously published works, preferably things that are similar to your pitch, (for example, don’t send us something from an academic journal if you’re pitching a personal essay, if possible). Please DO NOT send attachments.

We Like Ideas

Some things to keep in mind:

Topics are fine, but what we’re really into are ideas. Say you want to write about Native burial spaces in the U.S., or maybe natural burial? That’s great, but we really love it when writers push the envelope further (see the linked examples). We want stories that challenge our basic ideas about a subject, and reveal something about our society, beliefs, ourselves and our relationship with death.

Be original! Obvious, right? If Swedish Death Cleaning is a hot topic, and everyone is covering the subject, chances are we won’t be interested unless you have a completely unique take. Research what is already out there on a subject and give us a completely different angle.

What We’re Looking For

Don’t get us wrong, we love a great concept for a piece, but these are the things we want to feature:

1.

Pieces on the many ways death intersects with race, disability, gender, immigration, class, politics, capitalism, and sex are what we want to see most.

2.

How death denial and terror management theory manifest themselves in our beliefs, behavior, and impact us.

Some examples:

3.

We are looking for more stories that showcase individuals who are taking death positive action in their communities, like in this  piece on repatriating the remains of Julia Pastrana, this piece on caring for a deteriorating cemetery,  or this collective of Black midwives working to stem the mortality rates of Black mothers and infants.

Going forward, we want to go a step further with these subjects and go behind the scenes to show how the sausage is made – how they did it , and what advice they can give others who are also looking to start death positive work in their community.

Profiles on established or noteworthy artists, innovators, and activists/organizations that are addressing issues around death, dying, and grief, (especially ones that are working to address social disparities) that will not only resonate with our audience, but inspire and challenge them, too.

Did you use that new death awareness app for a month? Volunteer for a water drop? Visit the Sandra Bland exhibit in Houston? We want to live (die?) vicariously through you – tell us about it! These pieces shouldn’t be reviews per se (although there can be elements of that included), but experience based pieces our readers can relate to – How did the event change your perception or habits, or reflect current events, our culture, or the world around us?

4.

We probably don’t have to mention it, but we will – we love obscure, strange, unknown history and folklore, (death-centric, of course), especially if you can put a personal spin on it! For example, maybe your grandfather owned a pair of Necropants (What?! Please email us IMMEDIATELY), or this piece from Order member Kelly Christian that weaves together history, a personal story, and current events.

What we don’t want

Pitches from businesses or people that sell a deathy related product, looking to write a piece about what product, book, or services they offer. We do not accept paid or sponsored content.

Listicles. Lists are fun and super useful if you need to go shopping for your cat’s quinceañera, but not really what we’re looking for. (We are looking for invites to your cat’s quinceañera, though).

Things we’ve already published articles about or have covered on the Ask A Mortician channel.

Completed drafts. We just don’t have the time to read through an entire piece, so please adhere to the 2–3 paragraphs mentioned above.


Additional tips and guidelines

Personal Essays

Not only do we already have someone on staff that regularly covers this, but there are already so many great places that feature personal essays on death and grief, that we are only looking for experiences that aren’t often included, or given a platform.

Some ideas:

  • Dealing with death, grief, and mourning of incarcerated persons.
  • Death and grief in families separated by immigration, displacement and/or deportation.
  • Mourning and memorialization of missing persons, or victims of violent death.  Support for families and communities in mourning.
  • Preparing your children for the death of their parent, sibling or other loved ones.
  • How death intersects with healthcare, chronic illness and disability.
  • Disability and working in death care.

Reviews or Pop Culture Pieces

We already run a pop culture/review series so we aren’t looking for pieces along these lines, unless you can deliver pieces like this or this.

Word Count

We don’t have a firm word count, but the sweet spot for our audience is 800 – 1,000. We’re flexible, let’s talk.

Most of the pieces we publish at The Order have been commissioned by us, and we frequently invite or approach writers we love to address a specific topic. If you think someone would be a perfect fit for us, drop us a line!

Payment

Yes, we do pay! We are a small organization, so it is not nearly as much as we’d like, but we value you and your labor and can offer something to our contributors.

Hearing Back From Us

We will try to follow up with you within two weeks if we are interested. We’re a very small operation, so unfortunately we just don’t have the bandwidth to respond to, or provide feedback to everyone, but are so grateful for your time and that you thought to share your work with us.