So You Want to Write for Random Nerds? Here’s How…
Because Random Nerds’ current administrative assistant is a geriatric pug named Olive#, there are times when getting back to inquisitive potential contributors who’ve hit up our general ‘Contact Us’ inbox with anything more than a boilerplate reply and a few lines explaining our submission system has proven rather difficult.
So, to smooth out that stifling wrinkle, the editorial team and I have created an email address specifically for writers to use when submitting their work to Random Nerds:
Though before you go c+p’ing us on some email you’ve blasted off to every outlet you can Google, allow me to highlight a few “guidelines” that’ll make everybody’s life a lot easier in the end…
Drafts and Deeply-Contemplated Outlines Only
The RN editorial team currently maintains a Google Doc with over 300 ideas for pieces#. They range from the keenly practical (“A Chronological History of the Failed Attempts to Mobilize the Youth Vote“), to the implausibly inane (“A Beginners Guide to Cerebus the Aardvark“), and one day we may get around to taking them all on. For now though, those 300+ entries remain simply haunting, well-organized reminders of how useless great ideas are until they’re acted upon.
Consequently, as much as we’d love to hear your thought-provoking concept for a piece, we’d much rather read what actually came out of it. Rough drafts are fine, even deeply-considered outlines; just don’t go shooting off an email letting us know you have a paradigm-shifting idea for an article about how tech is changing the world of political video games then ask if we’d like you to write it. Write the thing, then send it to us. We promise not to steal it, or sell it, or make it a fake account on Ashley Madison.
Know Your Target Audience (and Their Level of Assumed Knowledge)
One thing I like to remind first-time Random Nerds writers is that our one-of-a-kind, Patronizing revenue model relies entirely on readers being so moved/inspired/amused by our writers’ work they feel insuppressibly compelled to pull out their digital wallet and “Patronize” those writers the same amount of money they might carelessly throw at even the most lackluster barista — which means, stategerly speaking, it doesn’t do our writers any good to write in broad, vague terms for a broad, general audience.
Instead, I suggest they picture that one reader/subreddit/forum thread they know will lose their flipping mind(s) over whatever the given topic is, and write exclusively for them. It doesn’t matter if a few apathetic stragglers get lost along the way (even I can’t make it through some of the nerdier Zelda stuff Joe’s written about), because fuck ‘em, this isn’t for them.
To peel back the curtain a bit in the name of context, my 2015 piece “Bernie Sanders for the well-intentioned, semi-informed layperson” is probably my most-read piece on Random Nerds. And from a financial perspective, it’s definitely helped pay a utility bill or two.
However, any scratch that 5,000-word, thoroughly-researched article brought in was nothing compared to the cabbage harvested by my off-the-cuff, pseudo-Buddhist paean on the mobile version of a video game that’s basically Mortal Kombat with DC Comics superheroes, “Injustice: Gods Among Us, the free to play superhero Pokemon (and digital zen garden).” Because despite there being only ~4,000 “supergods” in r/InjusticeMobile, I’m fairly certain a sizable cadre of those real-life superheroes threw some gold kryptonite my way.
There’s No “I” In Media
By now, you’ve probably noticed that the Random Nerds website is very media friendly. So, when writing, keep in mind how — and where — you want to employ it.
A well-placed YouTube embed# or custom-made GIF can be a great way to
distract your readers make a point…
Or break up two less-than-sequitur paragraphs.
I’ve been whetting this baby down for a while now, and I couldn’t recommend it more as a writing/self-editing tool.
When submitting a piece to Random Nerds, please attach this completed questionnaire along with it:
What is this piece (and what’s it about)?
It might sound counterintuitive, but before you get to discussing the subject of your piece, let us know whether it’s meant to be more expository or persuasive, more analytical or argumentative, more cerebral or celebratory. Articulating your intention from the onset will help your editor see your work through that lens and ensure you two are on the same page from the get-go.
What is the “thesis statement” of this piece?
Obviously not every piece will have a “thesis statement” per se, but whatever you’ve written should at least have some kind of raison d’être. Give it power, by saying its name.
What is your favorite phrase/sentence of this piece?
Because “it takes a heap of sense to write good nonsense.”
What is your least favorite phrase/sentence of this piece?
But don’t get cocky…
Who is your ideal audience (/who is most likely to Patronize this piece)?
See section above.
Would your piece be better if you took your conclusion, made it your thesis statement, and started over from there?
Over my half-decade as an editor, I’ve discovered that an alarming number of writers (myself very much included) have the nasty habit of only figuring out what they really want to say by the conclusion of their piece. As a result, my most frequent editorial suggestion when looking at a first draft is “take your conclusion, make it your thesis statement, and start over.” Thus, this question.
What You Can Expect Out Of Us
Since Random Nerds doesn’t rely on any cost-per-click revenue streams, our sole objective is to help you the writer craft the kind of piece that moves/inspires/amuses your reader to the extent they feel that insuppressible compulsion to Patronize you — which means you will get an actual, human being editor working with you one-on-one to make your piece the pieciest it can be.
I’m not talking about a half-assed copy edit for spelling and grammar, either; I’m talking about a genuine back-and-forth on how to make your ray of creative light shine its brightest. Sometimes this’ll be a fun and easy process, sometimes it might make you and your editor want to strangle one another like Chokebot from Archer. Regardless, it will all be worth it in the end.
Then, once your beautiful word-thoughts have been unleashed on the world, you can trust that the Random Nerds team will be using all the devious marketing tricks in our arsenal to make sure your work gets seen by as many of the people who might enjoy it as possible.
That being said…
Of course we want you to focus on writing something beautiful and honest and world-changing, but this is 2018 and there’s no such thing as being ‘just a writer’ anymore. If you’re ever going to get (the right) people looking at that piece you spent hours of your finite existence on, you’re going to need to be a bit of a hustler, too; one witty tweet to your 1-5k followers and a post on your Facebook wall isn’t going to cut it. Every single member of r/InjusticeMobile may have read and/or Patronized that brilliant, moving piece of mine I mentioned earlier, yet they would’ve never even known it existed had I the writer not personally found the moderator of that subreddit and politely asked if he would share it (should he deem it so worthy).
As a famous fictional football coach once said, “The inches we need are everywhere around us”#, and at Random Nerds we expect you to fight for that inch.
Do you know someone with a sizable Twitter following who would be really interested in sharing this? Are you the member of a group on Facebook that would love knowing more about whatever informative thing you wrote about? Does Lady Gaga owe you a favor?
Help us help you help us, and together we can save the world from clickbait, one deep dive on the canon of David Wain at a time.
Submitted To Letter from the Editor
Like what you read? Share it.
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Love what you read? Patronize Bryce Rudow.
That helps us and the writer.
What is Patronizing? Learn more here.