A Call for Long COVID Writers for a New Medium Publication
Introducing Long COVID Connection, a new outlet for talented writers that’s part of Medium’s Boost program
I’m in the process of soft-launching a new site on Medium called Long COVID Connection, a publication that will focus exclusively on reporting and storytelling about long COVID. It will report on the research, yes, but it will also tell the stories of people living with long COVID and the ways it has changed their lives — the challenges, the financial stress, the impact on relationships, coping strategies they’ve learned, and more.
As an invited participant in Medium’s recently launched Boost program, Long COVID Connection offers an opportunity for both professional and unprofessional writers, including seasoned bloggers and topical experts from a wide range of backgrounds and experience levels, to share their knowledge with the world and find wider readership.
As the publication’s editor, I bring to the mix a decade and a half of reporting on health with a particular focus on infectious disease and chronic illness, as well as nearly two decades of teaching and editing experience in journalism. I’m now seeking to work with some of the best writers on Medium, as well as recruiting new writers to Medium, to build Long COVID Connection into a trusted hub for information and narratives related to long COVID. I’m also excited to mentor a handful of promising, emerging writers who exhibit raw talent and skill and could use a little guidance in researching, preparing, and crafting their work.
I’m onboarding new writers right now. At the bottom of this article you’ll learn how to get started writing for Long COVID Connection, but it’s vitally important that you familiarize yourself with information that follows first so that you know what I’m looking for and what you should expect if you’d like to write for this new publication.
Why write for Long COVID Connection?
We have audience reach right out of the gate through existing Medium features, and you’ll be writing about a desperately under-covered topic that needs reliable information and sensitive, thoughtful, high-quality storytelling.
- Boost: Long COVID Connection is an invited participant in Medium’s recently launched Boost program, in which a select group of editors act as curators of top-notch writing. When I nominate our best stories to Medium’s internal curation team, they will often get boosted (see Medium’s boosting criteria). A boosted story typically sees at least a few hundred views and sometimes thousands or even tens of thousands. Individual outcomes can’t be predicted, but it’s a great program to be aligned with.
- Portfolio building: If you’re a relatively new writer, you’ll benefit from my extensive experience in editing and mentoring as you develop a collection of high-quality clips on an incredibly important public health issue.
- My personal reach: I will also use my personal reach on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media sites, including Mastodon, Threads, and BlueSky, to promote the best Long COVID Connection articles.
- Over time, we may develop a newsletter and/or other ways of promoting articles on Long COVID Connection, such as Clipboard.
What we want
Our main focus is on three types of articles:
- Original, well-researched and well-attributed articles about all aspects of living with Long COVID, including its effects on physical health, mental health, relationships, finances, career, and social life, as well as coping strategies and tips for managing these effects.
- Powerful personal essays on the experience of living with long COVID or on the experience of caring for someone with it or treating someone with it as a healthcare or services provider, with nuggets of wisdom for others in similar situations as well as the average layperson without a personal connection to the condition.
- Perspectives from researchers and clinicians on the work being done to learn what causes long COVID and what might eventually treat it effectively, including the challenges of finding those answers and learning more about this novel condition.
The articles should be insightful, contextualized and thoughtful, ideally actionable (when relevant) and engaging as a narrative.
Articles can be of any length, though 500 to 1,500 words is a sweet spot for many writers for most topics on Medium. Just make sure each paragraph, sentence and word is necessary and the article is extremely well organized. (Consider checking out Medium editor Rob Britt’s advice on how long a story should be.)
What we don’t want
- Rants, unsupported opinions, unsupported or otherwise sketchy advice, or clickbait
- Any writing clearly meant to insult or inflame
- AI-generated writing
- Product reviews or endorsements
- Generic “content writing” that aims to succeed based on search terms
- Off-topic writing (articles about ME/CFS and other chronic illnesses will be considered as long as they include an angle that’s relevant to long COVID, but general articles about acute COVID aren’t what we need)
- Flimsy/thin listicles, though we will consider list articles that are fresh and offer meaty pieces of information or advice while following other writing guidelines.
There’s no recipe or resume to indicate who would be an ideal writer for Long COVID Connection. Strong writing is obviously essential, but it can be demonstrated a number of ways, and not necessarily in the form of previously published journalistic work. But just as important is either strong expertise in the subject area — either lived experience or more formal accrual of experience and knowledge — or strong skills in conveying the expertise of others through interviews or as-told-to stories.
You might be an established, skilled writer who needs little to no editing. Or perhaps you’ve got talent and/or training but are early in your writing career or otherwise could use some direction and suggestions. If we spot raw talent, we’ll work with emerging writers of all stripes who are willing to put on a thick skin and grow. Ideally, you will have at least one of these qualifications, though exceptions may be made for those with tremendous passion and exceptional promise in research and writing skills:
- Journalism degree or equivalent/similar experience writing for professional publications or in a professional capacity.
- Topical knowledge with professional experience or other qualifications to write about an area of expertise (for example: research scientist, respiratory therapist, yoga instructor, registered dietician, clinical psychologist, MD, etc.).
- Lived experience paired with strong writing skills or strong speaking skills that can be translated into writing with the help of an editor or another writer.
It’s your work, your revenue
To earn any payment from your writing on Long COVID Connection, you will need to sign up for the Medium Partner Program, which pays writers based on reader engagement out of a pool of money created from reader subscriptions. The amount of earnings will come from the algorithm Medium uses to assess engagement with your articles. That algorithm prioritizes time spent reading your article as opposed to people simply clicking on your article. Long COVID Connection isn’t involved in that equation, but appearing in the publication may boost earnings above what they would be for articles appearing only on your Medium page.
Signing up for the Partner Program is not required to write for Long COVID Connection and will have no bearing on consideration of your work for inclusion, but it is the only way to earn money directly for articles appearing in the publication. Long COVID Connection does not have an independent budget to pay commissions on articles. Earnings are exclusively dependent on the Medium Partner Program. If your article is Boosted, it substantially increases the likelihood of more earnings, but there is no guaranteed minimum. (For reference, I’ve earned anywhere from $5 to $1000 on a single article, though the latter is very rare and typically when something has gone viral.)
Wondering why you should write for Medium without a guaranteed minimum payment for what you write? Read this post about what makes it worthwhile to write for Medium regardless of what you do — or don’t — earn. Then check out these nine benefits to writing on the Medium platform.
Long COVID Connection is not a publication specifically designed for professional journalists who typically earn and expect commissions per article that are agreed upon ahead of time. While we enthusiastically welcome professional journalists’ work, we expect that most professional writers who contribute will be doing so because they want to tell an engaging story that doesn’t have a more appropriate home elsewhere — who have a passion for sharing the story they want to tell and are comfortable accepting what earnings come from reader engagement with it.
What’s involved in pitching and writing
All writers for Long COVID Connection need to have a Medium account, which you will use to submit your articles. If you already publish on Medium, you likely know how this works. If not, read how to set up an account here and see how to write your first story on Medium.
We’re looking for your ideas. If you have a body of work and aren’t sure how you might best contribute to Long COVID Connection, we might suggest ideas that would fit your expertise, but we’re especially interested in what you have to say and what you think you can bring to this publication and its readers.
If your Medium article is published on Long COVID Connection, you retain full copyright. We ask that you leave the article on Long COVID Connection for at least 30 days, out of courtesy, and that you hold off publishing the article elsewhere for at least a week, but neither is required. You retain complete control over use of the content.
Once you have been brought on as a Long COVID Connection writer, you will receive additional onboarding documents that describe how to pitch and submit stories, what to expect from the editing process, and other information about the editorial process.
Before you submit
We expect submissions to be accurate, spell-checked and as typo-free as possible. To that end:
- Use a high-quality spell-checker, such as Grammarly, Medium’s built-in spell-checker or even Gmail (but don’t hit send!).
- We highly recommend copying the url of your draft via “Share draft link” and pasting it into a fresh browser page, then using the “listen” function to reveal clunky bits, unnatural-sounding passages, missing words and other mistakes that spell checkers don’t spot.
- If you need help with the mechanics of writing and self-editing, or if you’re curious how I approach my work as an editor, we can set up a meeting on Zoom to answer questions and go through the process. You can also find loads of suggestions in Rob Britt’s series of articles on non-fiction writing basics.
- Be sure you’re following the Long COVID Connection Writer’s Guidelines, which will be provided to you during onboarding. For a brief overview of these, see the PS at the bottom of this post.
How to get started
If you’re ready to write for Long COVID Connection, email me at tarahaelle+LCC (at) gmail (dot) com, and introduce yourself with a brief bio (several lines or bullet points, but don’t go crazy). Include your most relevant education and experience (formal, informal or lived) and some examples of your writing, ideally 2–3 pieces. The writing does not need to be about long COVID or even about health in general, and it does not need to be a journalistic article. (In fact, I prefer links to blogs or attachments of raw writing because it gives me a sense of your writing before an editor goes over it.)
Feel free to include in that introductory email a link to a story you’d like to see on Long COVID Connection or an idea you have for a story, but neither is necessary at the outset. If you already have a completed or partially-completed piece of unpublished writing you think would be a good fit for the publication, by all means, include it!
We’re generally seeking unpublished articles and will typically respond to pitches within 48 hours, often sooner. However, we also like articles already published on Medium in the past day or two, and even in the past month or so if you’re just getting started with us. If it’s older than a month, we might still be interested if it’s something that can be updated to remain fresh and relevant. We will also consider pieces written on personal blogs that haven’t gotten much exposure. We prefer to work with writers who will submit more than one article, though there are no minimum requirements. The hope is to establish a mutually beneficial long-term relationship.
Because I’m explicitly interested in including writers with lived experience in this topic — which includes individuals living with long COVID and/or their caregivers — I won’t have strict deadlines or expectations of fast turnarounds when it comes to submitting work or responding to edits. For those living with long COVID or caring for someone with it, I will be extremely flexible and work on your timetable and in whatever media you are able to work. (If that means you submit an article via a series of voice recordings, I will work with you on that.)
Looking forward to helping you reach a wider audience through Long COVID Connection!
PS: Once You’re Onboard…
If we agree to work together after exchanging emails, I’ll add you as a Long COVID Connection writer. You can then submit a published or unpublished story (here’s how). In the early stages, we may want to exchange some emails or have a Zoom meeting or phone call to get on the same page about topics and approaches, but eventually it’ll be smooth sailing as far as the editorial process is concerned. If I see ways to improve on one of your stories or fix a typo, we’ll communicate via email or the private notes, and you will retain sole decision-making power over any changes.
Long COVID Connection Writer’s Guide
Our style is based mostly on AP Style with a few modifications common to health and science publications. Except yes, we will use the Oxford (serial) comma. We also use fully inclusive language that dignifies and respects the wide diversity of individuals who exist and their experiences. Avoid scientific-paper writing styles (such as footnotes or citation lists) or complex jargon without lay descriptions.
Titles for experts: Include a source’s professional affiliation (institution), their title and/or primary area of study or professional focus (i.e. “psychologist” or “longevity researcher”), and their highest, most relevant degree above a four-year degree without periods (MD, not M.D.). Only include two degrees if they are both tertiary (such as MD and PhD).
Numbers: See AP Style, which calls generally for spelling out one through nine and using numerals for 10 and above, with exceptions in AP Style including ages and measures (9 years old, 7 pounds, 5 feet, 3 mph). Percents always use numbers, as in 2% or 31% (not “percent” spelled out).
Studies: When discussing a specific report or piece of research, especially a peer-reviewed study, ALWAYS link to the study or to its page on PubMed. If it is not available online, provide enough information in the text (date, name of journal, and lead author) so that readers can reasonably find the article on their own. Do not include DOI numbers or formal citation style. Including the name of the journal is ideal for particularly significant studies and well-known journals, but it’s often unnecessary — linking to it suffices.
Titles of publications: Books, scientific journals, other publications and songs are italicized, not in quotes. Example: This is the Long COVID Connection style guide.
Attributions: Some writers love to say a source noted or exclaimed something. We prefer “said” or “says” in almost all attributions, so that the quotes and paraphrasing can do their own work. For deeper understanding on this, check out the mechanics of attributions, quoting and paraphrasing and the preference for “said” from Rob Britt. Never cite others’ writing or research without attribution and links when possible, and obviously don’t plagiarize.
Formatting and other important stuff: These things should be obvious, but let’s leave no wiggle room. Avoid excessive formatting, such as overuse of boldface or italic. Aim for clean, uncluttered articles with cues to guide the reader along. Here’s an example.
- Headlines: Write honest, engaging heds that intrigue people without any clickbait silliness. The story should fulfill the promise of the headline.
- Subheads: Every story needs a Subtitle under the headline, formatted as a subhead (small “T”). In-story subheads are optional but highly preferred on any story ~500 words and up to break up the text. Keep them brief, like mini-headlines for what’s ahead. Each “section” under a subhead should be at least three paragraphs long or else it becomes choppy. Use the small “T” subhead format unless you need two tiers of subheading.
- Drop Cap: I prefer a drop cap in the first graph, especially on longer features. Avoid boldface or all-caps article lead-ins.
- Images: Pick images with care to express the intent of the article, and credit them, but obviously only use images that are from stock sites, in the public domain, that you have taken or created yourself, that you have been given explicit written permission (en email or text is sufficient) or that you have paid for. If you’re not sure where to find good images, you can reference this collection of free stock photo sources. Copyright violations will receive one warning — to account for genuine, honest errors. After that, violations will result in no longer accepting work from that writer.
- Usually one image at the top, placed between the subhead and the first paragraph, is sufficient. Only include additional images if they are part of the story or are necessary to further understanding of the information in the article, such as a diagram. Unless you have a stunning, important vertical image, go for horizontal so as not to force a lot of scrolling.
- Links: Links to source info or more info are strongly encouraged. Link from relevant, brief passages (one to three words is ideal). In a bio at the bottom of a story (italicized and/or separated by three dots) you can link to your previous articles or relevant books and social media accounts, but no affiliate links.
- Tags: Always leverage all 5 tags allowed for each story (see Medium’s list and below), and whenever relevant and applicable, include a tag that feeds one of Long COVID Connection’s Feature pages.
Long COVID Connection Feature Sections
Long COVID Connection has a few primary “sections,” called Feature Pages, which appear in the menu bar and aim to reflect the site’s mission, satisfy curious readers, and improve search traffic. Your articles will be sorted into one of these categories:
- News & Research — news about new long COVID studies or initiatives as well as no-nonsense, lay-language summaries of the latest studies coming out about long COVID and how to get involved
- Community Voices — personal stories sharing the lived experience of long COVID, both from those who are living with it as well as their caregivers and clinicians
- Daily Living & Family — anything and everything about living with long COVID, including its challenges, its impact on family and relationships, and living and dealing with grief and loss
- Money Issues — the financial stresses of long COVID as well as any suggestions for saving money, dealing with insurance companies, paying for healthcare, or finding new sources of income and other resources
- Challenges & Supports — both the difficulties that result from long COVID as well as coping strategies to help with them, both mental and physical
- Youth — anything about long COVID experience or research for children and teens living with it
Additional Suggestions on TAGS (keywords):
Every article should include the tag of “Long COVID,” and the remaining four should be relevant to the topic you’re writing about. The more common the tags are that you use, the more likely it is that it will come up on search engines. Below are some of the most common tags that might fit articles on Long COVID Connection: