Hi guys, it’s Ryan. I started The Bigger Picture in October of 2014 as a passion project. Inspired by the creative and unique voices on Medium, I wanted to help give writers I love a home for their work. Now — at more than 17,000 followers strong (and hopefully growing) — TBP has become a global community of writers with distinct voices, worldviews, and most importantly, stories.
My motto has been: If you don’t have a new story to tell, at least find a new way to tell it.
Whether you’re just starting out on Medium, recently came across TBP, or want to learn how to format your article, I am flattered you’re interested in publishing here. Hope this info helps.
Quick note: If you feel inclined to help support my continued management of The Bigger Picture, please see how you can help here:
Support The Bigger Picture | Patreon
Help Ryan continue writing, curating, and editing for TBP by becoming a Patron.
Another quick note: You’ll notice I use “we” sometimes. That’s just the royal “we” — I still mean me.
What we like to publish
Deeply personal stories that have overarching lessons to learn. Our tagline is “Oddly specific. Universally applicable.” So, keep that in mind.
When it comes to politics, I will 100% publish both articles I agree with and articles I don’t agree with. In fact, I love reading submissions I don’t necessarily agree with because that’s how I grow.
However, please make sure you’re including in-text links to your sources if you’re making claims or citing stats.
And, of course, I will not even consider submissions that are in any way discriminatory, clickbaity, or offensive just for the sake of being offensive.
Love a good humor piece. If you have something that’s truly funny, I will read it, laugh, and tell you I want to publish it.
If it’s not funny, I will probably find a nice way to pass on your submission. But I most likely won’t tell you I don’t think it’s funny because I don’t like hurting anyone’s feelings.
I don’t accept a lot of fiction at TBP, but if it’s interesting and I feel like I need TBP to be its home, I will make exceptions.
If you’re looking to submit a short story, I am happy to read and consider it, but for longer stories, you may have better luck elsewhere. (Unless it’s really ambitious, funny, tragic, and/or good.)
Though I am inconsistent with posting writing prompts, you are welcome to submit responses to any of the past prompts we’ve done. If you have any good ideas for prompts, let me know and I’m happy to bounce ideas around. Would like to do more prompts in the future.
We also publish stories about:
- national/global issues
- culture/social trends
With any of these categories, you’ll have better luck if your piece also intersects with one of our main categories above. (Life lessons, for example, is an easy one to tie in if your piece is any bit personal.)
What we don’t like to publish
There are plenty of publications on Medium that welcome poetry submissions — The Bigger Picture is just not one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I love poetry. But welcoming unsolicited poetry submissions seems like a nightmare. So, if you submit a piece of poetry, I will most definitely read it, but I probably won’t publish.
Here, I wrote a haiku just so we’re clear:
The Bigger Picture
takes submissions of all kinds
— except poetry.
And actually, it’s not only poetry. I also don’t like to read listicles that don’t have a lot of thought behind them. If it’s not super funny or insightful, think about why you’re making the list to begin with. Maybe it would be better suited in a different format.
Though some of the articles we publish may teeter on the line of self-help, I make it a point to stay away from pieces that are too preachy.
If your life experience makes you such an expert on how to live, tell that story from a personal lens. Because, while whatever you did may have worked for you, it may not work for everyone.
There may be some overlap with these topics and, say, culture or current events. But I try not to publish anything that’s overly jargony. Those articles belong in more tech- or business-focused publications.
I am also adverse to anything that’s written too scholarly. If it reads like a term paper, it’s probably not accessible enough for TBP.
I get a lot of submissions that read more like blog posts. I think that my preference of “deeply personal” stories gets mistaken for “please tell me about your Wednesday” or “write about what you’ve done in quarantine.” I assure you that’s not the case.
If your submission seems like it would fit better on a personal blog, it probably doesn’t belong in TBP.
What to include
In your piece
- *Headline: Absolutely give your piece a title
- Subhead: Optional, but could help readers know what to expect
- *Header image with credit: Every story needs a header image, and please credit the photographer/designer/whomever made it (even if it’s you!)
- *Proper punctuation, spelling, and grammar: I will obviously do some minor editing, but submissions riddled with spelling/grammar errors will not be considered. I get so many great submissions, so I have to keep the standards high.
- *A story or article that makes sense: This — and I cannot stress this enough — is the most important element.
- Author bio: Feel free to include a few short lines about yourself at the bottom. Have something cool to link out to? Include that, too. How else are you going to increase book sales?
- Tags: Also feel free to add meta tags you think are appropriate. I may or may not tweak what you chose before publishing, FYI.
In your email
I know we haven’t gotten to “how to submit” yet, but spoiler alert: It involves sending an email.
- *Subject line: Please include the title of your submission (or a shortened version of it) in the subject. It really helps.
- Brief personal intro: First time submitting? You don’t have to include this, but I like to know a little about you before I dive into your writing. Also, if you have a cool background — say, you worked on one of my favorite childhood TV programs — you can win me over before I even click on your article.
- Compliment(s) for me: Again, not required, but I (Ryan) will be the only one reading your submission and deciding whether to publish it in TBP. Never hurts to say something sweet.
- Brief story intro: Doesn’t necessarily need to be a summary, if you choose to include this. Could just provide some background on why you wrote what you did.
- *Draft link: I will not read attachments, and I really prefer not to read stories in the body of an email. So, kindly include the link to your unpublished Medium draft in your submission email. (Don’t have a Medium account yet? Make one for free here, then create a draft and send my way.)
How to format
One thing you’ll notice about these guidelines is that they’re pretty nicely formatted. Do that with your submission.
- Make your headline a headline, subhead a subhead.
- Include your header image (with caption/source) below the headline (and below subhead, if applicable).
- Body of article goes below header image.
- Though it’s not necessary for every story, some may lend themselves to subheads within the body — to help break up the sections.
Tips for formatting
- Please don’t use any weird (read: stupid) formatting like randomly bolding or italicizing words, or styling random phrases like headlines. Makes it hard to read and, frankly, annoys the hell out of me.
- Really saves me work when you make your headline title case and your subhead(s) sentence case.
- If you feel the need to break up content that seems dense and don’t have another image to add in the middle of the article, try a pull quote like this:
See? Sometimes, a pull quote does the trick better than an unnecessary image.
How to submit
Ah, the main event. The reason you came here. Drumroll, please…
Submitting to TBP
- Make sure you’ve followed all of the guidelines above. Seriously.
- Send an email to biggerpicturemedium [at] gmail.com.
- Include at least all the required info — especially your draft link.
- Be patient.
- If I don’t accept your submission, it’s never anything personal. Please don’t send me a mean email back. I’ve had a handful of people do that and it really just ruins my day.
Publishing with TBP
If I accept your submission, congratulations! There are only a few steps left.
1. Using your Medium handle, I will add you as a TBP writer.
2. You’ll need to submit your story to us directly via Medium. Basically, go to edit your story on Medium. Click the “…” in the top right corner (see screenshot below). Click “Add to publication” and select The Bigger Picture.
3. Sit tight. I’ll take it from there.
5. For any future submissions, you can go directly through Medium since you’re already added as a TBP writer. (So, essentially start at step 2.)
Note: Just because I published one of your submissions is not a guarantee that I will accept all of them.
Do I get paid if TBP publishes my work?
No, and I don’t know where anybody got that idea. I manage this publication for free, so I’m not even paying myself. You may, however, be eligible to earn money through the Medium Partner Program.
How long does it usually take you to respond?
Usually, I’ll get back to you within 2–3 days. If it’s a nice weekend or if I’m away on a trip, it may be longer.
If I don’t respond at all, which is very unlikely, Google may have incorrectly categorized your email as spam.
Either that, or I am missing and it is up to you — yes, YOU — to start a Twitter-wide search and rescue for me by making the hashtag #FindRyan trend.
Can I submit something I’ve already published on my blog?
I guess so, though I’d prefer your story only exist in one place on the interwebs.
Can I remove my story from TBP after it’s published?
Your story is yours and you can do whatever you want with it at any time.
If you also submitted to another publication and you just let me publish your piece because I got back to you first — and THEN you decide to move it over to the other, cooler publication once they respond — I will be very sad.
I may even consider issuing you a lifetime ban from TBP, but will also probably forget about it before the day’s end.
Why didn’t you accept my submission?
Oof. Like I said above, it’s nothing personal. I probably didn’t accept your piece because:
- I’m inundated with submissions and think you should look elsewhere
- I don’t think it’s a good fit for TBP because of topic, genre, or style
- I didn’t understand it/find it accessible
- It didn’t meet our quality standards (writing, spelling, grammar)
- It didn’t follow our guidelines (formatting, etc.)
- It’s about a current event that is no longer timely
- You received a lifetime ban I never told you about, and your latest submission triggered my shoddy memory
- You submitted poetry
Have a question that isn’t covered here? Shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to answer it (and maybe even add it to this list).