Editorial Guidelines for Writers
Editorial Guidelines for Exceptional Parent Magazine and Eparent.com Contributing Writers
Eparent publishes articles on a broad variety of social, psychological, legal, political, technological, financial, and educational concerns faced by individuals with disabilities and special needs and those who care for them. These articles appear in the monthly digital magazine, on the Eparent website, in other media, and in books and monographs. (For this reason, all materials submitted are with the understanding that Eparent with have full rights to reproduce in any media.)
Readership. Our primary audiences are individuals with disabilities and their caregivers, both personal and professional. While our publication originally focused on children with disabilities, as medical advances and better care have increased the life expectancy of individuals with disabilities, Eparent has broadened its editorial mission to address issues across the lifespan from infants to seniors.
Who writes for Eparent? A majority of the material appearing in our pages or on our website is contributed by authors who are: Individuals with disabilities, Caregivers or family members of individuals with disabilities, physicians, doctors, researchers, healthcare professionals, educators, industry leaders and other providers who have significant issues to address
Our emphasis is on family over clinical experience. However, Eparent is reaching out to the professional audience in an effort to better prepare them to work with individuals with disabilities. For this reason, we are encouraging professional and advocacy organizations to provide material on a regular basis. Personal anecdotes, quotes or sidebars are encouraged because they bring “life” to the articles.
Tone. As an overall objective, we strive to maintain respect and consideration for both the professional and the caregiver who want to work together in understanding and better treating the individual’s disability. Therefore, our tone is “how to work together.” As journalists, we examine ALL sides of controversial issues. Our tone is generally upbeat, but we also recognize that our audience is no stranger to difficulties and realities.
Eparent advises, it does not preach. We try as much as possible to avoid saying “You must” or “You should.” Rather, we suggest, “A good way of doing this is” or “You can.”
The approach our publication takes is:
Parents and/or caregivers are the best experts on their children. Eparent offers practical information and advice that readers can use to make life easier and happier when caring for a child, young adult, or older adult with special needs. Eparent is also a valuable resource for educational and healthcare professionals. Eparent welcomes contributions from doctors, physicians and healthcare practitioners of a more professional nature. These submissions will be reviewed by our Editor-in-Chief and Advisory Board to provide some oversight. Eparent does not present itself as a peer-review publication but one of information dissemination and exchange.
Style. At Eparent we try to use language geared toward the consumer/reader who has a high-school diploma (e.g., McCall’s, Woman’s Day, Newsweek) as opposed to professional, medical, or business journals (e.g., JAMA , Business Week , New England Journal of Medicine). Professional journal style – with reference to studies and imbedded footnotes -is generally unacceptable. Therefore, professional jargon and specialized terminology is discouraged. If there is a term parents will be coming across on a regular basis in an article (such as “intervention,” “aspirate,” “OBRA Trust”), it needs to be “translated” into everyday or ordinary terms at the time of the word’s first use in the article. See our style guide for additional information on Eparent’s particular style.
Sensitivity. Because our readers are professionals as well as parents, we write about “the child” rather than “your specific child.” We try to be as sensitive to our readers as possible. We employ people first language, speaking of “children with disabilities” or “adults with special needs” rather than “disabled children” or “handicapped adults.” The person comes first with the disability but one characteristic of that person.
We avoid discussion of what could have been done to prevent a disability. Our readers are interested in what they can do now.
If you write about an individual with a specific disability, it should be worded in such a way that it reaches out to all families that have a member with disabilities. Think to yourself, “What information can my submission contain that will be of use to other families of any individual with a disability?” Also, please give a brief description of any disabilities that are mentioned.
Submission Process. We require query letters (or “pitches”) prior to article submissions. If you are interested in submitting an article for publication consideration in Exceptional Parent Magazine or on the Eparent website please email a query of no more than 500 words (typed and single-spaced) – briefly outlining the focus of your article – to the: firstname.lastname@example.org ). Include all contact information. Include in the subject line of your email: “Query letter for Exceptional Parent Magazine,” or “Query letter for the Eparent website.” We will contact you with a request for the complete article, should there be an interest. Include all your pertinent contact information in the query. Name, mailing address, email address, phone number, fax number, etc. The review process takes about three to four weeks.
The pitch: When pitching an article idea to the Editor, please first consult our Editorial Calendar, which will help you estimate when a particular piece fits best according to the subject matter and theme of the issue. For instance, if you have an idea for an article about employment opportunities for individuals with special needs, you would pitch your article as a great fit for the October (Employment) issue.
As stated above, please summarize your article in the article pitch (in no more than 500 words). Do not send completed articles. The summary should explain the topic you wish to cover, the word length that the completed piece will be (approximately), and the audience for the piece. Please also include an estimated deadline date by which you can have the completed piece (if accepted) to the Editor.
Writing Suggestions. After an article idea has been accepted by Eparent, the development of that piece should encompass the following:
Eparent would prefer that an article be summarized within the first two paragraphs. In other words, the piece must provide a summation of the information or point of view in the lead sentences. This will enable the reader to quickly decide if the content is pertinent to his or her interests. We have found this also helps focus the writer and brings a tighter edge to the writing.
Unless of unusual merit, no article should be more than 1,400 words – and less is better. Graphs, charts, photos, and other illustrations add to the value of any submission.
Technical Hints. Disorders, diseases, and disabilities are used in lower case, unless they are “named after” someone. Therefore, we capitalized Down syndrome (“syndrome” is always lower-case) because Dr. Down is the person who identified it. We use “multiple sclerosis” in the lower case because it defines a condition.
If a condition is commonly referred with an acronym (e.g., autism spectrum disorders, rendered as ASD) be sure to identify what the acronym stands for with its first use in the article. Henceforth, the acronym is sufficient.
Please be sure to spell-check your article before sending it to us! Fact checking is also very important. Be sure to check all names, dates, and addresses. For example, Kodak is really referred to as Eastman Kodak. Make sure any website links listed in the article are valid, working links. Please be as thorough as possible; the more accurate the information, the more professional the article will be.
Please remember to include author “bio” information (75 words or less per author) and that will be included in total word count. This information consists of the name and pertinent background of the author.
Eparent utilizes the Chicago Manual of Style.
Following acceptance, please email articles as Word documents, using single-spaced, 12 pt, Times New Roman. Please place only one space between sentences and denote new paragraphs with a hard return rather than an indent between paragraphs.
Photos: Pictures and illustrations should be clearly labeled with the name(s) of the person/ people, the activity, or the product shown. This is so the pictures and/or illustrations can be easily captioned and fit into the story. Put names in order of appearance in pictures. For example: Brenda (right) and John (left). People should be identified by name, relationship to a child if shown, home address (city/state), age of child and the activity they are involved in (school, vacation, play, etc.). Make sure there is a release form for each individual in the photo(s). A sample release form for both the story and photos will be provided by the EP editorial staff after the article is accepted for publication. Photos can be sent as hard copies or, preferably, as digital files, which should be jpgs or tiffs at least 300 dpi and at least 1.5 x 2 inches. Please do not write directly on the back of hard copy photographs. Include on the label the name and address of the person who is sending the pictures and the title of the article for which they are intended. Slides and transparencies should be numbered and described on a separate sheet of paper. Please note: ART WILL NOT BE RETURNED. A picture should be accompanied by written permission to publish. An address and phone number should also be supplied. We need the permission of everyone in a photo(s)!
Sources: Include with your article a list of all sources you contacted, their telephone numbers, and copies of any materials you used (e.g., an article from another magazine, a photocopy of a technical or medical definition).
On rare occasions, editorial content must be cut (often at the 11th hour of the production process for any given issue) to maintain this ratio. When this occurs, Eparent endeavors to find placement (in either the digital magazine or on the website) later in the year for any articles that have been cut due to maintaining advertising/editorial ration.
Compensation. Eparent does not pay for articles. Our long-standing reputation for producing a quality publication has put us in the unique and wonderful position of rarely having a shortage of top quality articles from a host of renowned professionals and “in the trenches” families, which are offered to us without expectation of payment.