Editor Q&A with Kelton Wright of Headspace

In Editor Interviews by Susan Maccarelli | |

Editor Q&A with Kelton Wright of Headspace


Please welcome to the Editor’s Q&A corner Headspace‘s Managing Editor, Kelton Wright. Kelton shares the topics she is looking for (and not looking for), what to include in your pitch, payment details, response time and more!

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Q: Tell us about Headspace and the accompanying blog, Orange Dot.

Heasdspace Managing Editor, Kelton Wright

A: Headspace is, first and foremost, a meditation app. It’s a great tool for starting and maintaining a meditation practice, whether your goal is to sleep better, ease stress, or just to be more focused—and the first ten sessions are free forever. The stories on the Orange Dot (the blog) are free forever, too. Our hope on the Orange Dot is that for every story you read, you leave the blog feeling empowered, educated, or even just a little less alone.

Q: What is your role and the best thing about your job with Headspace?

A: I’m the Managing Editor at Headspace, so I run the Editorial team within our broader Brand team. The best part of my job is honestly just interacting with my team. We’re all at Headspace because we believe meditation can change people’s lives for the better, and that passion fuels our work every day.

Q: What can you tell us about your readers?

A: Our readers are hopeful, willing, curious. They’re the ones asking, “but why?” when told, “that’s the way it is.” They, like the people running the blog and writing these stories, want to better understand the human condition. Our readers come from everywhere, but they all come from a place of wanting to be happy.

Q: What can you tell us about your writers? 

A: Our pitch pile is ever-growing, and that’s the way we like it. Occasionally we’ll feature an expert, but we prefer reported pieces from journalists who are just as curious (if not more) than our readers. And of course, we love when those journalists consult the experts. As for personal stories, we’ll always make space for the truly compelling.

Q: There are a lot of topics and sub-topics covered on the Headspace blog, Orange Dot. Give us a quick overview, and if you can, tell us which topics you may be in particular need of content for (or what you get inundated with).

A: We’re always commissioning reported pieces on mind science, mental health, and meditation studies, as well as stories on interesting ways meditation has improved people’s lives. I’d rather not see another pitch about floating meditation, and I encourage our contributors to stay away from anything too preachy or mystical. No shavasana, asana, crystals, mantras, yoga, or the like, as we’re trying to move away from the stereotype of meditation being just for Zen yogis. Meditation is for everyone, and our articles should make our readers feel that way.

Q: What 2-3 articles should potential writers read first to get familiar with what your readers love?

The 3 most common mistakes we make when dealing with anxiety

How to get motivated to exercise … for the rest of your life

9 simple ways to make meditation a daily habit

Q: Your guidelines indicate that you like to receive pitches. What if a writer has a completed piece to send – should they still pitch first, or should they send the full article?

A: If a writer has a completed piece to send, they should send it with an abstract summarizing the piece in the email. I’d love to read every submission, but I have to prioritize other work to keep things running smoothly.

Q: What information does your ideal pitch include/not include?

A: A first time pitch email should come with a potential headline, a 25-50 word abstract with an obvious through-line, and links to writing samples. I’m happy to see as many as 3-4 pitches in one email, but preferably not more than that.

A pitch should not be strikingly similar to something we’ve just published—as obvious as this sounds, it has proven to not be. One-sentence pitches do not give me a clear idea of the story a writer is picturing. And ten one-sentence pitches show me that the writer doesn’t have a clear idea of the story either.

You can send pitches to submissions@headspace.com

Q: Where is Headspace headquartered and do you publish writing from international authors?

A: We are headquartered in Santa Monica, California. We’re happy to publish writing from international writers. We’re also happy to negotiate rates based on bank/transfer fees so the writer is receiving fair pay.

Q: Headspace pays for published work. Can you give us any details about that?

A: We typically offer ~$300 for fully reported pieces, ~$200 for reported pieces with a personal arc, and $150 for personal essays.

Write for Headspace (paid opportunities)! Click To Tweet

Q: Once someone submits, how quickly are they like to hear a yes or no back?

A: It takes us about two weeks. We reply to everyone, and if you don’t receive a reply, we don’t mind follow-ups. If a writer is pitching multiple places and is in need of a quick reply, we like to see that reflected in the subject line. Following up on a time sensitive piece is OK, too. That said, we do not publish stories reacting to timely events.

Q: You’ve written a book! Tell us about Anonymous Asked: Life Lessons from the Internet’s Big Sister

My former and secret life! I did not expect this question. Long before I discovered meditation (and my husband), I wrote a dating blog called Date By Numbers. On a phone call with my mother, I complained that I never met anyone, to which she said, “you meet plenty of people. You just don’t like any of them.” Being a defiant young woman, I sought out to prove her wrong by numbering the people who made a legitimate pass at me. It turned out my mother was correct. I recorded all my dating experiences on that blog, and women seemed to connect with the way I handled myself, to the point where people began to ask anonymously for advice. Speaking from my personal experience, that advice column was turned into a book. Like most authors know, it’s made me about enough money to cover one month’s rent, but writing it shaped me into the person I am today.

Q: What’s next for Headspace?

A: I’m most excited about our “A Day With Mental Health Series” that launched May 10 and will be running through next year. I’ve personally suffered with Panic Disorder and PTSD, and people close to me have dealt with depression, seasonal affective disorder, schizoaffective disorder, generalized anxiety, and those are just the friends who have an open dialogue about what’s happening. We’re so comfortable speaking about going to the gym, changing our diets, getting some R&R, and I’d love for people to be able to speak that freely and openly about their mental health. I’m proud to be in a position where I can be a leader in that conversation, and I couldn’t be happier to be at a company who supports me in that mission. We are only publishing one essay for each diagnosis, but there are still some areas we’re looking to fill. If someone wants to be a part of the series, they should email the diagnosis they’d like to write about to submissions@headspace.com with “ADW” in the subject line.

About the Author

Susan Maccarelli

Susan Maccarelli is the creator of Beyond Your Blog, a site helping bloggers successfully submit their writing for publishing opportunities beyond their personal blogs. She also offers online training and consulting to new bloggers looking for direction on submitting their writing for publication. Susan has interviewed dozens of editors from publications like The New York Times, Huffington Post, Brain, Child, Chicken Soup For The Soul, The Washington Post, and speaks at many respected writing and blogging conferences.