How to Get Work Published as a Marginalized Writer

Despite having had over 100 bylines, including Huffington Post, Canadaland, etc, I face unique challenges as a fat disabled BIPOC LGBTQIAP+ immigrant woman writer. The reality is that it was the killing of Mr. George Floyd which forced more publications to reckon with the inherent privilege of their lens. Despite this progress, it can still be difficult to get paid writing commissioned when my work challenges white supremacy, cisnormativity, ableism, capitalism, fatphobia, etc.

It can be intimidating for marginalized writers to manage pitching, negotiating rates, reporting, working with editors, etc. Since these tensions are similar to those I navigated as a social worker committed to anti-oppressive practice in a field that is often complicit with the problematic status quo, I was well-equipped with the skills to excel in this process. Especially for those of us who do not have the financial safety nets that are often a direct result of generational wealth from stolen Indigenous land and Black labour, getting published can feel impossible, particularly when those offering recommendations for getting published do not hold our experiences of marginalization.

Pitching as a Marginalized Writer

With that in mind, I have broken down the pitch that is often expected to land paid writing work into a simple 3-sentence formula:

  1. general related statement, followed by
  2. the insights you can add, and culminating in
  3. an outline of how you will write the piece.

For example, when I pitched Auto Trader, here was my 3-sentence pitch:

  1. The social distancing restrictions of the pandemic put many events on hold, including classic car shows.
  2. Despite COVID-19 variants on many minds, hobbies such as restoring classic cars may still help to maintain mental health alongside safety precautions.
  3. For this story, I would interview experts in the field as well as folx who enjoy classic car restoration about how they navigated this year of the pandemic.

For a general related statement, it helps me to think of a sentence I could begin with “Often,” followed by one that I could start with “Personally,” to describe the insights I can add, after which, I end with something like, “For this piece, I would,” to outline what will be written. My first example applies to pitching a reported story, but the same works for essays or roundups. 

When I pitched MedTruth, here was my 3-sentence pitch:

  1. Podcasts can offer unique insight into the lived experience of marginalization.
  2. Personally, I have learned a great deal regarding the challenges of folx who are trans, Indigenous, disabled, etc, and podcasts are largely accessible online.
  3. I am interested in delving into this for MedTruth with my top podcast recommendations for Minority Mental Health Month in an article of 1000 words.

Here was my 3-part pitch for the Disabled Writers blog, but I must admit that the last portion necessitated two sentences:

  1. All too often, health can be viewed as an achievable goal and moral obligation for all folx.
  2. Unfortunately, I know the reality of how my chronic health concerns of migraines, back pain, and sleep issues make that impossible.
  3. Especially when I navigate the medical-industrial complex in a fat brown body, this is further complicated by xenophobia, white supremacy, misogyny, fatphobia, etc. As a freelance writer, I often must plan for not feeling well enough on a daily basis to be productive, which impacts my ability to freelance, so I am in a unique position to write this personal essay for the Disabled Writers Blog. 

Where to find calls for pitches

In the beginning, I found calls for pitches from Writers of Color, Disabled Writers, and Journo Resources, but have since subscribed to Sonia Weiser’s Opportunities of the Week newsletter, which offers free subscriptions if you cannot afford to pay the $3USD per month she charges. There are also some private Facebook groups for writers who are seeking opportunities. Additionally, cold pitching can work if you are able to understand the publication’s process, as many websites offer instructions like this for writers to pitch them, as in the case of Prism. 

As you navigate this process, if you do so alongside a BIPOC background, please remember how rigged against you these systems may be. Unfortunately, that means you may do everything recommended and still not land your pitch with editors who often lack lived experience of racial oppression, as the Canadian Association of Journalists reported that half of this country’s newsrooms were entirely white, based on data analysis from 209 newsrooms. For that reason, it can help a great deal to have a community that understands, which was a large part of why I have facilitated Sustainable Resistance for BIPOC Folx writing workshops since 2020, thanks to the generous support of my local arts organization, Scarborough Arts. 

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    About the Author: Krystal Kavita Jagoo

    Krystal Kavita Jagoo graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology in 2008 and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Windsor in 2010. As a fat queer disabled Indo-Trinidadian woman and settler on Turtle Island, she remains intent on anti-oppressive practice given social work's ongoing complicity with the problematic status quo. She taught “Justice and the Poor: Issues of Race, Class, and Gender” at Nipissing University in 2012 and worked as a Wellness Counselor and Coordinator for the University of Toronto in 2018 before transitioning into the role of Accessibility Advisor, which she held until December 2021, when she resigned following a medical leave prompted by white supremacist workplace harassment, but she continues to pursue equity work through Intersectional Equity Insights. Her essay, “Inclusive Reproductive Justice” was published in Volume 2 of the Reproductive Justice Briefing Book: A Primer on Reproductive Justice and Social Change. Jagoo’s commitment to equity can be seen from her writing and arts programming work, which includes “Sustainable Resistance for BIPOC Folx,” as she has facilitated for Scarborough Arts and the Talking Back Feminist Media Conference, and “Writing for Social Change” as facilitated for the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild. With over 100 publications in 2021, her writing includes both reported work and essays, and mostly covers equity issues. Her articles have been featured in Asparagus Magazine, Auto Trader, Best Health, Canadaland, Chatelaine, Daylight News, Everyday Health, Giddy, Healthline, MedTruth, Minority Business Entrepreneur, o.School, Prism, Verywell Mind, Verywell Family, Yahoo Health, etc. Her essays have been published in BlogHer, Community Centric Fundraising, Disabled Writers Blog, Healthline, Huffington Post Personal, the Independent, Just Preachy, the New Citizens Press, Verywell Mind, Shameless Magazine, etc. Her visual art, "University Ableism Bingo" was featured in Pandemic: A Feminist Response, the zine, CRIP COLLAB, and as part of Inclusion Canada's This is Ableism campaign. Jagoo's essay, “The Willful Ignorance of Most White Administrators” was selected for Scarborough Arts' 35th Annual Juried Exhibition: Beloved Community. Her memoir essay, “A Slow Death in Academia” was published in Radical: An Unapologetic Anthology by Women & Gender Nonconforming Storytellers of Color in 2020, and presented at tapashta, SpringWorks’ Digital ShortWorks Showcase in 2022. Her memoir essay, “Goodbye to Grims” was published in the Bronx Memoir Project: Volume 5 in 2021. Her history of creating art work had mostly included creative nonfiction writing until 2020, but the pandemic offered opportunities to participate in literary readings of her work at online showcase events. Having done Bollywood dancing in Trinidad, returning to the performing arts sector felt like coming home, so she then pursued the Crossing Gibraltar program with Cahoots Theatre and was one of 12 artists in their 2021 cohort with Yolanda Bonnell and Shaista Latif, which further developed her theatre creation skills. Jagoo is currently completing the Ontario Presents Gathering Knowledge, Sharing Voices: Touring in the New Normal program for BIPOC creators with Aria Evans and Nova Bhattacharya. Thanks to Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council grants, she is working on her essay collection, "They Colonized Even My Tongue."

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