Open Call 2015 – 22 and UNDER


We’ve spent the last year putting together a textbook for writing about music called simply, How To Write About Music. In the book you’ll find examples of music writing, writing prompts and, perhaps most uniquely and practically important, real life advice from working music journalists and editors. Now that the book is out, my co-editor Marc Woodworth and I sometimes worry that we’ve launched our guide into the world with only an extremely positive message and perhaps too few caveats about how hard it is to become a successful music writer: we’ve told you how: now go forth and be a music writer! To balance things out, the forty successful writers we interviewed for the book frequently describe how being a music writer can be a serious hustle. It requires talent, humility and persistence and, as Casey Jarman says in the book, “patience, empathy, a sense of humor, a mean streak and an addictive personality.” Still, it’s one of the most gratifying careers for those who stick with it even if they often need to supplement their work as writers with other means of supporting themselves.

Something else has been nagging us though. The idea that we’ve included a chapter called “How To Write a 33 1/3 Proposal” (Chapter 33 1/3 in the book) might seem somewhat misleading. By printing successful 33 1/3 pitches, the chapter means to demonstrate and inspire by example, but if the potential readership of the book is in large measure made up of younger writers, then shouldn’t these younger writers have a true shot at writing a volume for the 33 1/3 series? So far, most 33 1/3 writers, however well-known or little known, are beyond the beginning of their writing lives.
This nagging thought has suggested a course of action and as editor not only of How To Write About Music but the 33 1/3 series itself I’m extremely excited to announce a very special open call for proposal for the series open ONLY to anyone under the age of 22, and especially (though not exclusively) those enrolled in creative writing programs at the undergraduate level.
Why? Because I want to represent the perspectives of younger writers, especially as I was so blown away by some of the proposals during the 2014 open call coming from undergraduate students. And we have this very useful guide in How To Write About Music which can be put to even better use toward a more likely end. So don’t hesitate  to pick up a copy and learn from the greats as you consider and then write your proposal for your very own contribution to the much-loved 33 1/3 series.
x Ally-Jane
P.S. Older than 22? You are of course encouraged to submit to our annual open call, submissions from ANYONE will be accepted after June 1st of this year here.
P.P.S. This



Announcing the next UNDER 22 open call for proposals for the 33 1/3 Series…

As of today, April 21, 2015, we are now accepting book proposals on one single album of music for the 33 1/3 series from anyone under the age of 22. Proposals that meet the guidelines below will be accepted now through May 1, 2016. Proposals will be evaluated by the 33 1/3 series editor and one submission will be selected to be published by Bloomsbury as a book in the 33 1/3 series.

Please make sure to check the series listing and books in the works to ensure that your chosen album hasn’t already been covered in the series.

You may submit a proposal at any time before May 1, 2016 but please note that no feedback will be given before June 1st, 2016 when the winning proposal is announced. One book contract with Bloomsbury will be issued to the author of the most successful pitch. Contract terms will be similar to existing 33 1/3 terms with a small advance issued upon contract, a 10% royalty rate on net receipts and a negotiable due date.

Age requirement: This open call is aimed at undergraduate students. Entrants MUST be 22 years of age or younger and ideally enrolled in an undergraduate writing program though this is not a requirement. You must be 22 years old at the time of submission on May 1 2016, i.e. if your 23rd birthday is BEFORE then you are ineligible.*

You must follow the proposal requirements exactly as they appear below. All aspects of your proposal will be carefully considered, however the table of contents and introduction are where you get to show off your writing skills and explain your brilliant idea.

Please refer to the comments section of our 2014 open call for frequently asked questions.

If you would like to submit a proposal for a 33 ⅓ volume, please submit ALL of the following to before 9:00am EST on May 1, 2016. No exceptions. The word/page counts below are not exact and should point you in the right direction. The subject line of your submission email should have the album you have chosen to write about and your name. Please submit all materials as one single document as either .doc, .docx or .pdf. No .rtf files will be accepted.

Proposal Requirements

Please submit ALL of the following as a single email attachment to in this order:

1. A statement of intent: tell us which album you have chosen to write about and why (500 words).
2. A biography of yourself (200-1000 words).
3. A draft annotated table of contents for the book. This should include chapter titles and a brief 50-500 word summary of each chapter. If you don’t plan on using chapters, please explain why.
4. A draft introduction/opening chapter for the book (2,000 words).
5. Your analysis of the audience for the book. What is the scene like? How many fans are there? Is there an active online community? Reunion shows? Are there other books written about the artist? (500 words).
6. Explain which pieces of music writing you enjoyed or hated reading in How To Write About Music and why (or other music writing) (500 words).
7. Name 3 people who will want to buy your book and why.

Please leave questions in the comments below and we will try and answer them! (No email queries please). The comments section of our 2014 open call is helpful!

*You’ll need to prove it if your proposal is selected.


23 thoughts on “Open Call 2015 – 22 and UNDER”

  1. “Name 3 people who will want to buy your book and why” – well, i’m guessing that my mother don’t count. So what kind of people? Should i try to analyze a segment of people (example: “the typical Starbucks girl”), name a person of fame, or people that i know?

  2. Also: can we include additional notes of importance (such as in re: band involvement, plans for promotion) not represented in the questions here? Or would that be more annoying than helpful?

  3. So much negativity in these comments. I think that this is an amazing idea and I’m so thankful for this opportunity for young people

  4. When you specify that you want writers to be enrolled in creative writing programs, does that indicate that you expect proposals to be more creatively structured like the Music from Big Pink or Master of Reality books or are the expectations similar to those for an ordinary open call?

    1. Hi Logan. We are looking for all sorts of proposals, not necessarily creative writing. The mention of enrollment in a creative writing program is to indicate that a student might take advantage of the resources available and ask instructors or classmates for feedback on his or her proposal.

  5. Can I submit one proposal through the regular process later this year and then another one through the open call next May?

  6. “shouldn’t these younger writers have a true shot at writing a volume for the 33 1/3 series?”

    Don’t they have a shot in the regular open call for proposals?
    If their proposals are good enough and deserve to be published, then they would be ones that stand out in the regular open call.

    You’re basically saying these younger ones aren’t good enough normally to make the cut and so you’re willing to let lower quality books come out just to give younger writers a chance. Why not choose the very best proposals regardless of age?

    1. Contract terms will be similar to existing 33 1/3 terms with a small advance issued upon contract, a 10% royalty rate on net receipts and a negotiable due date.

  7. Wow, it is bad enough that most publications don’t want anyone older than 45 to write for them, now you are asking that someone under 22 to actually have the skills to break down an LP, and put it into historical perspective – screw you guys…

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