Guidelines for Contributors
Welcome to our guidelines. AramcoWorld relies on freelance text, visual and multimedia journalists, as well as subject specialists, for new ideas and new talent.
Assignments are made by contract with Aramco Services Company.
Fees, generally speaking, are mid-range US editorial.
Do you have an idea for AramcoWorld?
Before going further, search our Subject Index in the Archive.
Here is what we look for in a story proposal.
- Strong storyline that is positive and pegged (timely).
- International appeal to non-heritage readers (non-Muslim, non-Arab, non-company)
- Appeal to both non-specialists and specialists
- Coverage of any aspect of cultural, scientific or historical Arab and Muslim worlds, including arts, archeology, history, geography, biography/profiles, cross-cultural connections, innovations, technology, trends and more. (Surprise us, please.)
- Protagonists and sources who are primarily of Arab-land or Muslim heritage (local voices).
- Your bright, fresh, smart style. (It should read well aloud.)
- Accuracy and fairness to the highest professional journalistic standards.
On the other hand, here is what we do not publish:
- Politics, religion, poetry, personal memoirs, academic papers or articles; fiction, travelogues, foreign-aid stories and unpegged, topic-driven stories.
- Conflict, controversy or negative stories.
- Boosterist or promotional stories.
- Stories that appeal primarily to readers with pre-existing regional or heritage cultural backgrounds.
- Stories that turn on stereotypes or clichés.
Even then, we may turn down a strong idea if it is presented in a style that does not follow these guidelines, or that otherwise does not fit us well for any other reason.
- Words: 300 to 4000 words.
- Visuals: one to six days’ assignments, leading to use of 10-25 still images and 30 seconds to five minutes+ video/multimedia. Longer videos can be chapterized.
Who reads AramcoWorld? Non-Muslims and non-Arabs, worldwide. In our reader community, the magazine broadens and deepens appreciation of positive interconnections among Arab, Muslim and other global cultures, past and present.
What is AramcoWorld’s point of view?
Start with accurate, fair, globally cosmopolitan curiosity. Add dispassion, and temper it with sympathy. Put this under “the golden rule”: Represent others as you yourself would wish to be represented.
What parts of the world are you most interested in?
Everywhere—as long as there is an Arab or Islamic cultural connection.
What background do I need to show?
You need to demonstrate professional reliability, regardless of how much or how little you have published.
I think you’d be interested in my idea. Please tell me how to frame my proposal so you will accept it.
- Know us, both online and in print. We are happy to send print issue samples.
- Introduce yourself. Remember that every editor wonders not only, “Is this a good story idea?” but also, “What will this person be like to work with?” or, more bluntly, “Will she/he deliver?” How are you at planning, follow-through and troubleshooting communications, deadlines, logistics and expenses? What’s your professional assignment track record? References are great.
- Samples are helpful, but editors often wonder how much work other editors put into those samples. How strong are your drafts? Unpublished writing is “raw” and might be more impressive. Are you a creative, nimble revisionist of your own work?
Not much track record? Compensate with intelligence, enthusiasm, flair and willingness to do what it takes.
And please: Be concise.
- Length should be both ideal and essential: What you’d like and what you could live with.
- Visuals: If you are a writer, how would you suggest handling the story visually? What help can you offer toward that? If you are a visual journalist, what are the words, the audio? Where might that come from?
- Schedule: We work best with stories that have at least two to three months lead time. More is better if travel is required and less is stress—but for the right idea, we’ll do what it takes.
What are your fees?
Our rates are midrange, and they vary with a contributor’s background, location and the complexity of the story. When appropriate, we cover limited travel costs and other expenses on a reimbursement basis. We do not give advances. Fees are paid on acceptance, except for photo space rates. (See next.)
For visual journalists:
Day-rate assignments are contracted for all rights (work-for-hire) at midrange editorial day rates suited to those rights. Expenses are reimbursable; no advances. We also assign and license still photography on a space-rate basis for which fees are calculated on print-edition usage size or online-only flat rates.
Space-rate stock is licensed for one-time world English print and one-time all-language online rights, duration two months with life-of-publication archiving.
Space-rate assignments are contracted either for the one-time rights above or, if expenses are reimbursed, for all rights (work-for-hire).
Visual style is documentary and narrative; it is not travel, pictorial or personal. It either complements a text or uses a text as its complement.
Captions frame the understanding of still images; audio frames the understanding of video. Insightful, accurate captions and great audio endear visual journalists to both editor and reader.
When will I hear back from you?
Expect an acknowledgement of receipt by email within a day or two. Historically, we have reviewed proposals on a two-month cycle, but this is decreasingly rigid. As with any publication, favor will shine on the outstanding. If you have not heard from us, it’s fair to ask when you can expect a full response.
What if I have an idea and I want to run it by you to see if it’s worth working up as a full proposal? Can I do that?
We respect the value of time to our contributors; likewise, we expect them to respect the value of time to the editors. Although “proposals for proposals” are easier for repeat contributors than first-timers, we can handle it as pretty much a yes or no question.
Is email the best way to send a proposal?
YES: [email protected] (attachment limit: 10mb)
Can I post it?
Aramco Services Company, MS 546
9009 West Loop South
Houston, Texas 77096 USA
(Although we take normal care to safely return posted materials when requested to do so, we cannot take responsibility for physical materials of any kind.)