Please welcome to the Editor’s Q&A corner Editor-in-Chief of Femme Feminism, Dena Landon. Dena tells us about the unique feminist take of her new publication, the content she loves to publish, payment and more!
Q: Tell us about Femme Feminism and why you started it.
A: The idea for Femme Feminism came to me in March of 2016, when a girlfriend came over to my place for a glass of wine after my son had gone to sleep.
After sitting down on my couch my friend commented in surprise to see issues of Allure mixed in with The Economist under my coffee table.
And I wondered, why can’t I be interested in both beauty and the economy? Both femme and feminist?
I started Femme Feminism because I was tired of seeing a divide online between websites that talk about feminism and websites that talk about fashion, beauty and make-up. I think that there is an intersection between feminism and personal appearance and how it impacts our lives and I wanted to create a place where those of us who identify as femme, Femme, and feminist could talk about that intersection.
Q: If I am remembering correctly, your site is fairly new. Can you give us a little history lesson on how it has evolved since you started?
A: Yes, we only launched in September of 2016. I’ve been learning the best times of day to publish and promote but haven’t really made any major changes as of yet.
I’m striving to publish at least 50% of my content from women of color and marginalized voices and, thus far, have been able to meet that goal. I also want to add that not all of our contributors feel comfortable identifying themselves for safety or other reasons, particularly some of our trans contributors, and we work with them to either publish anonymously or otherwise guard their identities. We do not force nor require contributors to identify.
Q: Can you describe the type of content you are looking for and give us some examples as well?
A: I’m looking for thoughtful and in-depth personal essays from a variety of experiences and backgrounds. I won’t publish anything that is femme-shaming, fat-shaming or slut-shaming. I’ve occasionally received pitches decrying women who wear their long hair down at work, or wear short skirts, or utterly bizarre ideas that indicate unfamiliarity with the site. All pieces must have a fashion or beauty angle, even if it is very slight, because advertising is how I’m trying to support the site. I can tell when someone hasn’t read anything on the site or our mission.
Some of my favorite essays that we’ve published are:
BGDC: Brown Girl Dress Code – Esmy Jimenez
The Art of Keeping it Together: queer crafting as a revolution – Rachel Nelson
Carefree, Black & Fat: Inside the Mind of a Femme Black Girl – Nyoka Hunter
Q: How can potential contributors submit work? Also, do you prefer a pitch or a completed article?
A: Instructions are on the site under Want to Write for Us? and I keep it updated with the month’s open themes. I always open for submissions to the Binders first Facebook Groups, then wider.
Pitches ONLY, please. I am the only one handling the submission inbox and while I try to reply in 1-2 weeks I can get bogged down, particularly if I receive a lot of full articles.
Q: How long should writers expect to wait to hear back from you?
A: I make an effort to respond in 1-2 weeks, though sometimes if I’m struggling with how to respond or seriously considering a pitch it will take longer. Also, sometimes I receive several similar pitches at once and since I’ve had writers not respond to acceptances, I may move to the next on the list if I don’t hear from the first person with the idea. I’m a single mom whose kid gets sick, so you know…be patient, please.
Q: I was excited to see that you pay writers! Can you tell us more about that?
A: I do! I’m a freelance writer, myself, and I strongly believe that writers should be paid for their work. We use affiliate marketing to support the site, and are trying to sell ads, which is why all essays must have a fashion angle. We also do our best to promote our writers with links to their other work on our FB page and Twitter accounts, and include links in all of our author bios.
Q: Do you ever accept previously published work, or should submissions be previously Unpublished only?
A: I have, from time to time, published reprints, but I only pay $25 for those and they really have to be perfect for the theme.
Q: Where are you headquartered? Do you accept work from international writers?
A: We’re located in the United States but have already published pieces from writers based in Canada, Mexico, and India. We absolutely accept and encourage submissions from international writers.
Q: Are there certain social media channels or promotion methods you like to see contributors use to share their article once it appears on your site?
When I receive four similar pitches from writers and am trying to decide whose to accept, I do factor in the number of their followers on social media and their reach. Publishing doesn’t happen in a vacuum and self-promotion is a component of selling your work, particularly for an online publication.
We are active on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and I will look to see if an author pitching me follows us on our social media accounts. To be frank, I’m more likely to accept a piece from someone who is already interacting with us on social media because it indicates a familiarity with what we’re publishing.
Q: As far as rights go, are contributors able to republish something you have published in the future, and if so, do you have any requests as far as that goes (timing, attribution etc.).
A: Yes, they are. I do not take all rights. Rights revert after one year, though we do ask that they credit us in any republications.
Q: What’s next for Femme Feminism?
A: Next up, after the current month’s theme Femmes, Holidays and Families, is the theme examining the intersection of Femmes, Feminism and Money. I received some amazing essays and have been chomping at the bit to share them!