Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Sierra Magazine Pays $1 Per Word!


Sierra is the storytelling arm of the Sierra Club, the United States’ oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental group. We are a national print and digital magazine publishing award-winning journalism and cutting-edge photography, art, and video dedicated to protecting the natural world. Combining features on green living and outdoor adventure with reporting about threats to the environment, Sierra brings together leading journalists, photographers, and filmmakers to convey the ideals at the heart of the Sierra Club’s mission.

We welcome ideas from professionals with a demonstrated ability to write smart, fun, incisive, and well-researched stories for a diverse and politically informed national readership. Successful pitches will reflect an understanding of the Sierra Club’s motto— “Explore, enjoy, and protect the planet”—as well as knowledge of recent issues and topics.

Prospective Sierra writers should familiarize themselves with recent issues of the magazine. For a sample copy, send a self-addressed envelope and a check for $5 payable to "Sierra"; back issues are included on the magazine's Web site, sierraclub.org/sierra.

Please be patient: Though the editors meet weekly to discuss recently received queries, a response time of four to six weeks is not unusual.


Submit well-researched, tightly focused queries to Submissions.Sierra@sierraclub.org 

Phone calls are strongly discouraged.

Please do not send slides, prints, or other artwork. If photos or illustrations are required for your submission, we will request them when your work is accepted for publication.


Sierra feature articles are carefully researched works of narrative nonfiction that relate significant environmental and conservation issues, adventure travel, natural sciences, self-propelled sports, and trends in green living through classic storytelling devices. Writers should elucidate well-established issues in ways that clarify their many nuances. We do not want descriptive wildlife articles unless larger conservation issues figure strongly in the narrative. We look for stories of national or international significance; local issues, while sometimes useful as examples of broader trends, are seldom of interest in themselves. Our dramatic investigative stories have the potential to reach a broad audience.

We welcome adventure-travel pieces that weave personal experiences, scientific discoveries, and ecological insights into the narrative. We are more interested in showcasing environmental solutions than adding to the list of environmental problems. We are not interested in general essays about environmentalism or highly technical writing. We do not publish unsolicited cartoons, poetry, or fiction.

Sierra features can, but are not limited to, aspects of the Sierra Club's work; few subjects are taboo. For more information about the Club's current campaigns, visit sierraclub.org.

Examples of feature articles that display the special qualities we look for include:
Diana Saverin’s “Sweet Waters” (May/June 2016); Peter Frick-Wright’s “The Grand Canyon As It Should Be” (November/December 2015); Jake Abrahamson's "Second Sight" (January/February 2014); Steve Hawk's interview with photographer Nick Brandt ("Artist or Activist?" March/April 2014); Bruce Selcraig's "The Mayor of Wind" (July/August 2014); Aaron Teasdale's "Lost in Time," (May/June 2014); and "India's Barefoot College," by Natalya Savka (September/October 2012).

Feature lengths range from 2,000 words to (rarely) 4,000 words or more with payment starting at $1/word and rising to $1.50 word for more well-known writers with crackerjack credentials. Expenses may be paid in some cases.


Much of the material in Sierra's departments is written by staff editors and contributing writers. The following sections of the magazine are open to freelancers. Articles are 250 to 1,000 words in length; payment is $250 to $1,000 unless otherwise noted.


At turns practical and whimsical, this lavishly illustrated section informs readers about the latest (and best) trends, products, and tips in environmentally sustainable food, fashion, housing, outdoor recreation, transportation, and other areas of their everyday lives. Writers are encouraged to submit queries on light, positive, inspiring topics that will help readers add more value to their lives, not more work—or more guilt. We especially welcome ideas that incorporate lists, factoids, photos, how-tos, recipes, quotes, statistics, tips, and other quick-hit presentations. Items should generally be 250  words in length; payment will vary depending on length and complexity.


Evocatively—and succinctly—describes a superlative place, including fascinating natural and cultural facts, in about 450 words.


A cartoon highlighting a real-life backcountry accident involving injury or a near-death episode, and offers survival tips from an outdoor recreation professional.


Focuses on environmental issues of national or international concern. Regional issues are considered when they have national implications.

“Faces of Clean Energy”

This two-page spread is a Studs Terkel-like, 550-word “as-told-to” edited interview featuring an innovator in the clean energy sector.


A short profile (300-word) of ordinary folks doing extraordinary things. We seek to go beyond the usual suspects of environmental activism to highlight individuals who are engaged in some small but meaningful endeavor to promote environmental sustainability.

“Mixed Media”

Our culture department offers readers reviews of feature films, documentaries, television shows, pop music, and books with some sort of environmental bent. Profiles of celebrities engaged in environmental activism also appear in this section. We typically run two short (250-word) book reviews per print issue.

Payment for all articles is on acceptance, which is contingent on a favorable review of the manuscript by our editorial staff, and by knowledgeable outside reviewers, where appropriate. Kill fees are negotiated when a story is assigned.

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