hen I took my first writing class in 2008, I had no interest in becoming a published writer. As a woman who spent her college years studying sciences, I simply wanted to try something new. I listened on the last day of class as fellow students asked about publishing, but I didn’t concern myself with any of it. I was just writing my childhood stories—memories I didn’t want to slip away. All this publishing information would never pertain to me. So then how is it that I, a woman with no aspirations to be a published writer, ended up blogging for BustedHalo.com?
1. I had a good pitch, though I hardly knew what a pitch was at the time.
In March 2012, I was preparing to walk the Camino de Santiago, a four-hundred-eighty-mile pilgrimage trail across northern Spain. My journey was, in part, to seek some guidance as to my spiritual path in life.
As part of the research for my trip, I’d found posts on Busted Halo by two different men who had walked the last sixty miles of the trail with a group of fellow pilgrims. A friend (who had written for Busted Halo in the past) suggested I could write for the site about my journey. I said, “But they’ve already had people that have written about the Camino.”
“But your trip is different,” she said. “You’re doing the whole thing. You’re a woman. And you’re doing it alone. You should say all of that in your pitch.”
My pitch? I’d heard the term, but had never used it in a sentence—let alone crafted one of my own.
2. I had a friend with a connection—although—
My friend offered to send an e-mail on my behalf, introducing me to the editor-in-chief, Barbara Wheeler. She instructed me to follow up with an e-mail of my own.
Barbara responded to my pitch and asked for a writing sample. The only problem? I was in Italy when I received her request. Everything I’d ever written was on my computer back in the United States, backed up on a flash drive that was also there. But I had something I could send to her:
3. I had a blog. Though at the time I started it, I had no idea it could help me become a published writer.
In the aforementioned writing class, a classmate showed us how to start a blog. In October 2009, I heeded my friend’s requests to write about my nonconformist lifestyle. They wanted a book. I said a blog would have to do. By the time I sent the link to Barbara Wheeler, I had a few hundred subscribers and over two hundred posts.
Less than ten days before I left for the Camino, Barbara and I agreed that I would be a short-term blogger for Busted Halo. I wrote two posts a week during the six weeks of my trip. The most amazing part to me? I was not only going to be a published writer, but I was actually going to get paid for my work.
Here’s the good news for WOW readers: You don’t have to embark on a four-hundred-eighty-mile walk across Spain in order to pique editor-in-chief Barbara Wheeler’s interest. I asked Barbara to tell us a little about herself, the site, and what she’s seeking from writers.
WOW: You’re fairly new to Busted Halo. Can you tell us how you came to be here?
Barbara: I’ve been working for the past six years in communications/editorial positions at nonprofit organizations—almost exclusively faith-based groups—which has been a great combination of my passion for writing and spirituality. Busted Halo offered the opportunity to connect another interest of mine—outreach to people in their twenties and thirties about issues related to their faith and spiritual lives. I was part of a young adult, faith-based, volunteer service program that had a huge impact on my own spiritual journey; and I feel it’s important to help other twenty-and-thirty-somethings connect to their deeper, spiritual selves and the meaning that God has in their lives.
WOW: When I tell people I write for Busted Halo, they resonate with the name. Tell us a little about the name of the site and how that relates to its mission.
Barbara: The name expresses the sentiment that we are all aspiring to be better people, reaching for the selflessness and devotion of a saint. According to Catholic Christian belief, we are all “saints in the making.” But that isn’t an easy journey. We have personal struggles and imperfections. We all make mistakes. That’s part of life. And God loves us anyway and calls us to polish those halos and make them shine!
WOW: People might be surprised to know that not all of your writers are Catholic. You, yourself, are Methodist. How does this fit in with the mission of the site? Was there a specific effort made to find writers of other faiths/beliefs?
Barbara: Catholic, United Methodist, Jewish, Muslim—we are all on our own personal spiritual journeys—journeys that we hope will bring us closer to God and whom God wants us to be. I think the diversity of Busted Halo voices reflects the diversity of our audience of twenty-and-thirty-somethings. We have readers from different faiths, and they come to Busted Halo for the unique perspective of the “spiritual seeker.” We try to look at everything from that perspective. So, we answer questions of faith, we make church teaching accessible, and we talk about faith in terms of everyday life. People of different faiths can help each other through their sharing and reflections. Parts of one faith tradition might speak to someone of another tradition and help them deepen their own faith. These shared seeker experiences help us all grow in new directions.
“We have readers from different faiths, and they come to Busted Halo for the unique perspective of the ‘spiritual seeker.’”
WOW: Tell us about your readers. What brings them to the site? How old are they? Are they from all backgrounds or mostly Catholic?
Barbara: Most people find Busted Halo because they are looking for a faith perspective that will meet them where they are on their spiritual journey and also will speak to the questions they have about faith. Our readers vary in age—about 50 percent are under forty, which is our target audience. A majority of our readers come to the site via social media (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest). Many of our readers identify themselves as Catholic or Protestant, and about one-fourth identify as spiritual seeker when we ask.
WOW: Busted Halo also hosts a three-hour show on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel. Is there a connection between what’s written on the site and what gets talked about on the show?
Barbara: Yes, as on the website, the radio show answers callers’ questions of faith. So there’s some overlap in content there. The show is a place to dig a little deeper into topics that were talked about online, specifically related to the Catholic faith. During the seasons of Advent and Lent, we promote our online Lenten and Advent calendars to listeners. We also feature a BustedHalo.com writer on the radio show from time to time.
WOW: How do you find contributors? What type of articles are you looking for? How would you like potential contributors to query you?
Barbara: Contributors come to Busted Halo in a number of ways. We solicit specific articles based on expertise or recommendations. I’m also open to receiving queries. Our articles cover everything from church teaching about communion to the Olympics. I’m specifically looking for articles from a young adult perspective (twenties and thirties) that talk about the intersection of faith and culture and also pieces that reflect on transitions or a part of someone’s own personal spiritual journey and what others might learn from it. Talking about things like movies, television, relationships, life transitions, or politics from a faith/Catholic perspective is appealing to young adults because it shows them how faith is present in all parts of their lives.
“I’m specifically looking for articles from a young adult perspective (twenties and thirties) that talk about the intersection of faith and culture . . .”
WOW: You have some regular bloggers to your site as well. Are you looking for more bloggers at this time? If so, is the query process any different for them?
Barbara: I’m always open to an interesting pitch for a blog. Same query process via e-mail.
WOW: How much of the content on the site is written by freelancers?
Barbara: Ninety percent. We have a small staff and contribute articles and videos from time to time, but almost all of our feature articles come from freelance writers.
WOW: How is writing for a website different from writing for a printed publication?
Barbara: A website can respond much faster to current events and things that are happening right now. We also write shorter articles (generally) than a lot of printed magazines. And we try to take advantage of links and direct people to more information about subjects with the hope that they can find some of the answers they are looking for in articles that already exist.
WOW: What are some of the most popular topics/articles on the site? Some of the most controversial?
Barbara: Most popular: everyday spirituality, personal faith journeys, making church teaching accessible. Most controversial: almost anything “political,” responses to moral dilemmas, church teaching on topics related to human sexuality.
WOW: Thank you, Barbara, for taking the time to chat with us today.
Readers, are you in your twenties or thirties? Do you have an interest in writing about your faith as it relates to your everyday life? If so, Busted Halo may want you. Use the tips in the interview and writer’s guidelines below to query Barbara soon.
Address: Busted Halo, 405 West 59th St, New York NY 10019
Phone: 212-265-3209 x206
Circulation: 20,000 unique visitors monthly
What to Pitch
Busted Halo is an online magazine for spiritual seekers and Catholics in their twenties and thirties. Our readers are looking for answers to questions of faith and relevant conversation about faith in their lives. We are looking for smart and insightful writing that will entertain, inform, and enlighten this readership.
Busted Halo is looking for young adults (twenties and thirties) to write about the intersection of faith and culture—topics including relationships, politics, sex, movies, music, everyday spirituality, life transitions, current events, and more. We also publish content that helps twenty-and-thirty-somethings understand the Catholic faith, but avoids Church jargon and is appealing to a young adult audience. Writers should have an understanding of the Catholic faith, but don’t necessarily need to be Catholic.
What Not to Pitch
We are trying to reach twenty-and-thirty-somethings and almost exclusively looking for writers who are themselves in their twenties and thirties. We want to share unique young adult experiences and find that young adults relate better to their peers’ faith stories than to those of older generations. We also try to be a thoughtful voice of reason in a sometimes polemic and argumentative religious and political environment. We welcome readers to ask thoughtful questions, but don’t push a specific political ideological agenda.
Percentage Freelance-Written 90%
How to Pitch
Tightly-focused queries, along with a resume and relevant writing samples, should be submitted to email@example.com. Phone calls are strongly discouraged.
Prospective Busted Halo writers should familiarize themselves with the website and its content before sending a query to make sure we’re a good fit. Please be patient: We are a small staff, and sometimes immediate editorial needs take priority over queries.
Where to Direct Pitches
Barbara Wheeler, editor-in-chief, firstname.lastname@example.org
Payment Schedule: On publication.
Rebecca Gallo just finished walking the Camino de Santiago. Her blogs from the Camino can be found at http://bustedhalo.com/category/a-pilgrims-progress. She blogs about this and other adventures at renaissancerebecca.wordpress.com.
More from Rebecca on WOW!:
Dreams of Long-Term Travel—Closer Than You Think