From the TIE editors (Austin Frakt, Aaron Carroll, Adrianna McIntyre):
As a general rule, we only take pitches for guest posts from people we have either invited or who we know will write good, TIE-style posts without a lot of editing. Often this is from people who have written here before or with whom we have worked with in other contexts. The reason for this is that we don’t have a ton of time to devote to vetting and editing. We prefer to do at most one iteration with an author to get a post ready for publication.
So, how do you break in if we don’t know you? Easy! Send one of us a full draft. You can try to pitch ideas in advance of writing a draft, but we’re less likely to engage in pitches. We will want to see how you write, not just what you want to write about.
We will also want to know about any potential (actual or appearance of) conflicts of interest (COI). For example, if your submission advocates for a policy that would promote a business you or your family members are financially invested in, you should disclose that up front. (That’s just an example, there are lots of types of COI. You should disclose any of them that are relevant.) If we discover a COI that you failed to disclose, that’s going to violate the trust we’d like to build with you.
In some cases, we may send your post to a peer reviewer before we make an accept/reject decision.
We may reject your post because we don’t see a way to get it to something we’d want to publish in one iteration. That means it may be destined for a good post (elsewhere), but would just take more work than we can devote. If that happens, we may not engage you in how you can make it better because we may not have time. We need to reserve scarce editing time for posts we’re going to publish.
We get a lot of questions about word length. Here are some rules of thumb: If a post reaches ~1,400 words, consider splitting in two. If it is between 1000 and 1,400, look for ways to shorten by ~10-20%. Unless it’s clearly larded up with distracting or redundant stuff, don’t worry about length below ~800 words, which is the typical max for a newspaper column.
For online reading, short paragraphs are best. This post provides good examples of that, as do most others on TIE. (In general, read a lot of TIE posts to get the style.)
Send any submission in Word. Supply all images and charts as separate image files (e.g., JPEG, PNG). Support assertions with links to credible sources. Embed those links in your text like this. (The “like this” text in the previous sentence is called the anchor text. It’s best if it’s about 1-4 words long.)
Finally, don’t forget to put a brief bio at the top of your post and supply your Twitter handle, if you have one.
Note that TIE contributors own their posts forever. You can do anything you want with what you contributed, including cross-posting it elsewhere. We only ask that you include a reference and link to the original when you do so. If you contribute a post that has already appeared elsewhere (or with substantial content that appears elsewhere), you should tell us. While we are much less likely to post unoriginal content in its entirety, if at all, there are exceptions. What is certainly bad for our relationship with you is if you don’t tell us, we publish thinking it’s original, and then find out later it is not.