Rules, regulations and questions on writing a guest post at the Tolkienist

Bridge of Sighs, Oxford. (c) Marcel Aubron-Bülles

Bridge of Sighs, Oxford. (c) Marcel Aubron-Bülles

The Tolkienist may be a project by one Tolkien enthusiast but it is open to guest posts by anyone who has something interesting to say on the Professor and his invented worlds. However, to be sure that The Tolkienist offers only relevant and on-topic material there are a few rules you should keep in mind. And I will also answer a few questions along the way. If you want to skip over reading all of this: A quick list is at the end of the post.

Rule / Question #1. You have rules on this? Now I’m afraid!

Don’t be. I am a Tolkienist and I have been so for more than twenty-five years. I would like to promote your insight into J.R.R. Tolkien’s life and works and modern fantasy literature and its impact on modern media via my blog. Whatever you have to say feel free to contact me on this anytime. I am happy to have your guest post.

However, as this blog is my very own responsibility and I do have a clear vision on what it should do and not do I have to come up with some general rules and regulations so everyone involved in this project feels comfortable with it and is on the safe side with all legal issues involved.

Rule #2. Appreciation of J.R.R. Tolkien and his works.

Now, this may sound self-evident but as the owner of this blog I would like to expressly state that a major part of my vision for this blog is to remind people how outstanding and relevant an author and an academic Tolkien has been and remains to this day. Now, I am fully aware that both the writer and his stories may be criticised for legitimate reasons and I am most happy to accept such a guest post. However, it will always have to remain respectful and appreciative of the tremendous quality and complexity of the Legendarium and all other writings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Rule #3. Anything goes – as long as there is a Tolkien link. Like, really – there has to be a tangible link to the Professor.

Now, I know that with an author like J.R.R. Tolkien there are a lot of topics you can talk about but don’t go off on a tangent. A Tolkien quote at the beginning of a post on African elephants will not do if there is nothing else on him in the post; a comparison to the mûmakil will. This is a blog about this outstanding Oxford academic and you should always keep this in mind.

Rule/ Question #4. Do I have to be a published author to be posting with you?

No. Quality of writing does not have to do with you being a New York Times bestseller list author. Quality of writing has to do with quality. If your post is good I will be able to see this immediately. In fact I am most happy to support any author writing sensibly, intelligently and/or provocatively on Tolkien and modern fantasy literature in general. The sky is the limit if you know how to write about it.

Rule / Question #5. Will I retain full rights to my article? Are there any legal issues involved?

Of course you will. No author can give up the rights to what he or she has written – you may give up parts or all of your usage rights to something you have written. I am spelling this out clearly so you know what to expect:

  • You allow me to post your article on my blog and grant me the right to keep it up on my blog indefinitely.
  • You allow me to pass on your article, in parts or all of it, to interested parties, particularly the press, for further distribution of your article. If the article is supposed to be commercially used (beyond the scope of the press) it is yours to do and I will pass on any such requests to you.
  • You will grant me the right to have your article exclusively on my blog for one month before publishing it elsewhere. As it is your article you are free to do with it as you please but out of courtesy it will be necessary to grant this measure of exclusivity.
  • You promise your article to be an original article, of your own making, and that you own all rights in order to be able to pass it on to me. Any legal issues arising out of you compromising the law with your article will be your responsibility.
  • Your article may not use any copyrighted/ trademarked material without having the rights to do so.
  • If you pass your article on after that please make sure to include a link to the original blog post, that is to this blog.

Rule/ Question #6. Will I be allowed to use links in my article?

Again, this sounds like a self-evident thing but in fact it is a rather tricky one. As the number of links on any given web page may result in the post being penalized by major search engines like Google you should keep this number as small as possible. A simple rule would be one or two links for you as an author (to your website, blog, twitter account etc.) and five to six links in your article. And yes, if you have a longer blog post then this is open to discussion, of course. Also if your article is supposed to be an overview on an interesting topic links are essential and there is no limit to this. However, don’t forget: an article is supposed to be a written text including an argument, thought or suggestion, not a link list. Again, if you have a particular link list in mind talk to me. (Have a look at this Google video if you don’t believe about posts being penalised for too many links).

Rule/ Question #7. How long should a blog post be?

There is no simple number I can give you on this but it is rather difficult (in my opinion) to come up with an interesting article in 100 words. If you make it 1,000 that is something completely different. If you go beyond the scope of 2,000 words we might have to split the article into a series as the reading behaviour on the web tends towards shorter texts. So the answer: Make it a minimum of 1,000 words and no maximum as long as there is enough material (maybe to make a series out of it).

Rule #8. Guest posts offered may be turned down.

Again, this may sound self-evident but I do want to clearly state that the final say on this matter is always with the owner of this blog (i.e. my humble self :)) and I may reject any guest material offered without giving a reason.

Accepting a guest post is a lot of work: Reading it, editing it, judging it for its merit, putting it into perspective, formatting and putting it up on the blog, checking it again (possibly several times) with the author etc. I am most happy to do all of this work but it is just too much hassle to actually explain to a writer why a post will not be accepted. And do keep in mind: Publishing a guest article makes it my responsibility as well. There is a lot of follow-up work involved: Checking on the comments, participating in the discussion and more. So I am sorry to say that I cannot spend any time on explaining a refusal to publish a post. One hint, though: If you don’t spell check your article before sending it to me it will be turned down.

Tl;dr: A short list of how blog posts work at the Tolkienist

  • All guest posts must be useful to this blog’s audience.
  • All guest posts must be grammatically correct and free of spelling errors.
  • Guest posts may not be self-promotional or include marketing links.
  • All guest posts may include an author bio (of sensible length), which will be published at the end of the guest post. 1-2 links to the author’s website, blog or other branded online destination may be included in the bio.
  • All guest posts have to be original.
  • No guest posts will be published that have already been published elsewhere online.
  • Usage rights of your article are granted to the owner of this blog; a one-month exclusivity rule applies (see above for the legal stuff).
  • Guest post submission is not a guarantee of publication. [Source:]

As of August 30, 2013. Changes and revisions to this list will be documented on this page and announced in advance. These rules apply for all posts published on after August 30, 2013. Exemptions to those rules are possible at the discretion of the blog owner and will be documented on the respective posts.

If you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to contact me

Really. Honestly. Shoot me an email, contact me on Facebook, Twitter etc. Have a look at the press page, there are a few options.