Still looking for writers
Since I first announced Code Quarterly a few months ago, there’s been what seems to me a very healthy expression of interest in the idea. Over 1,400 people have filled in the form at our website indicating they might want to subscribe, buy copies, or write for us.
On many fronts things are proceeding apace: I’ve formed a corporation so I won’t lose my house if something goes south, and we’ve drawn up a standard writer’s contract. I’ve also found a handful of folks to help me out with various aspects of getting this thing going including a former Byte magazine editor who’s been giving me the benefit of his experience and a designer who’s been typesetting some gorgeous sample articles. So I’m very excited that we will be able to produce a high-quality, great-looking print journal and I’ve been thinking about all the other ways we could publish things.
However there’s one big question that remains open: will we be able to find enough good articles of the sort we want to publish? A couple hundred people have expressed interest in writing for Code Quarterly, but I’ve received fewer than a dozen proposals and of those, only a handful have been right for us. So I thought I’d take this chance to talk a little bit more about why you, or someone you know, might consider writing for the Quarterly and to expand a bit on the kind of thing we’re looking for.
What’s in it for you?
While we will share our profits 50/50 with our authors, I have to admit there’s no guarantee that those profits will be large or even greater than zero. So I can’t suggest that you write for us as a way to get rich.
But there are other rewards to writing, chief among them, the joy of creation. And the joy of creation is greatest when you create something really good. If you write for us, we will work with you throughout the writing process to help you write the best piece you possibly can.
If you’ve never had the experience of someone taking apart your writing and helping you put it back together so it says exactly what you mean in a way people will want to read, this may be your chance. Or if you have ideas but aren’t sure the best way to organize them, we can help. Or if you just think you would benefit from having someone pointing out where you need to dig deeper and where you could be more clear, we can do that too.
This kind of editorial guidance is something you probably won’t get writing for your own blog or website. And, at least based on my own experience, and that of several other authors I’ve talked to, you’re not likely to get it from traditional tech book publishers either.
So whether you’re a new writer daunted by the blank screen or an experienced writer who appreciates the value of a good editorial sounding board, you should consider writing for us.
What we want
Still reading? Thinking about writing for us? Good. Now, what kind of thing are we looking for? To start with, let me mention one change of plans. In early versions of our writer’s guidelines, I said we were looking specifically for long pieces—in the 8,000 to 20,000 word range. I now think that was unnecessarily restrictive. Though we are still interested in long pieces, the current plan is to publish pieces of a variety of lengths and I’ve updated the writer’s guidelines accordingly.
I think our tagline, “The Hackademic Journal,” captures quite well what we are about. To me, the essence of hacking is a combination of curiosity and pragmatism. Like academics, hackers like to explore ideas, to learn new things, and to understand concepts fully—there’s a reason that hacker jargon is where Heinlein’s word grok found a home. But hackers also like to build stuff—ideas purely for ideas’ sake are for academics, not hackers. Yet it’s possible to take our pragmatism too far—sometime there’s nothing as practical as a good theory. I want Code Quarterly to fill the niche between academic journals, which can be dry and inaccessible, and a lot of mainstream tech writing, which, sadly, is often superficial, ahistorical, or badly written. And sometimes all three.
We want to publish clearly written explanations of useful bits of theory, critiques of interesting bits of actual code, explorations of the history of our field, interviews with the leaders of our field, and book reviews that say more than just whether the reviewer liked or disliked the book. We care less about original results than academic journals but more about good writing.
In future postings, I’ll talk more about the different kinds of articles we are looking for and what we are looking for in proposals. Until then, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here or to drop me an email.