Frequently Asked Questions — FAQ

Topics We’d Love To See

If you are wondering what subject matter is appropriate for BitterSweet, here are some examples of topics addressed in existing posts:

  • Contact, Connection & Relationships among linked descendants.
  • Discovery & Impact of finding details of family history, documentation, linked descendants.
  • Healing, Repair & Action taken by individuals or linked descendants.
  • Individual, Family & Linked Descendant Stories from one’s own experience, from research, from interviews.
  • Legacies of Slavery, Racism & Injustice, the harms done in the past and/or continuing in the present, as revealed in linked descendant stories.
  • Historic People & Places, as well as Regional History & Culture significant to linked descendant stories.
  • Research Experiences, what happens to someone while doing research, as well as details re: research methodology, documents, records, and oral history that are rich sources of information.
  • Setting & Place significant to linked descendant stories.

 Choosing Images

In general we would love to see a photo of you with your bio, AND an average of three other images (if you’d like to include more, please send the most pertinent and impactful ones).  Photos and images of documents help bring the story to life and give the reader more context and connection to it all.  We love to have images included!  The images you choose are at your discretion, but here are a few suggestions.

 Please consider including one or more of these types of images, as appropriate (with captions):

  • Images of historical documents;
  • Any images of a slave dwelling;
  • A photograph of an enslaved person or a group of enslaved individuals from that time and place;
  • If you don’t have the exact photo of where someone worked, you could include a generic photo of that type of business;
  • Images of plantations, farms, glimpses into the setting where individuals in your story spent their time;
  • If you only have a photograph of the “big house”, you could include a caption that says something like “this is the main house, Rose worked behind here in the ….”;
  • Images of pertinent objects (eg. the details on a christening dress created by an enslaved seamstress);
  • If your story is about an enslaved individual, please do not include photos of the white slaveholders;
  • If, however, the story is about a relationship between an enslaved individual and the enslaver or other white person, it would make sense to include a photograph of that person.  

Other Writing Prompts For More Impactful Stories

We encourage writers, at any stage of their journey, to continue to examine and reflect on the significance of their stories, further peeling the onion, to get to the power, richness and impact at its heart. For those who have not fully formed their piece yet, are in the process of shaping it, need ideas, or may be newer to this journey, here are some questions to consider:

  • Does the story convey what the experience means to you?
  • Has your relationship to, and perception of your ancestors changed?
  • What dilemmas are you grappling with?  
  • How has your overall worldview changed? What did you believe before that you no longer do? 
  • If applicable, have you considered the importance of place, and the finer details? (eg. the still-standing hearth of a home where babies were nursed; a work shed; a hush harbor).   
  • If choosing what to write about is challenging, consider your and others’ journeys to be a beautiful, complex, and unique string of pearls. Choose one to tell us about for now. We would love to hear about another pearl from your strand in the future. 
  • Please provide as many details as you can about names of enslavers and enslaved, plantations, farms, towns, birthdates, other names, years, etc. Others NEED this information.
  • *If you have shared these details elsewhere for descendants to discover (eg: created a website, posted on Our Black Ancestry, shared in a presentation, etc.) — please let your readers know (in your piece, or as a footnote). 

We are available to answer questions or connect around story direction if you need support:

What are the expectations for guest contributions?

BitterSweet asks that all submissions be:

  • Clearly written, easy to follow;
  • Written in standard forms of language, punctuation, usage, and grammar, unless the post is intentionally written as poetry, in a regional or historic dialect, or in dialogue form;
  • In language suitable for national press (rather than purely personal expression), that does not contain terms of disrespect or offensive words that would be “bleeped” on a news program.

A member of the BitterSweet team will review contributions against these expectations and will contact the writer if they have editing suggestions. NO contribution will be edited and published without the writer’s permission.

How long should my submission be?

No more than  1000 words.

Should I include a title?

Yes please. We may tweak it for SEO, style or impact, but we love our writers to take the lead. 

May I republish my submission on my personal blog?

Absolutely! We also accept submissions previously published on your personal blog, or elsewhere, with the publisher’s permission. 

May I include a call-to-action?  

Yes, you may include a call-to-action/link at the very end of your post directing readers to check out your book or course, download your free guide, subscribe to your newsletter, or follow you on social media. One to two sentences maximum please. You may also include a link to your WordPress Author page, just let us know you’d like to do that.  

Do I need to be a Coming To The Table member?

While it is not required to join Coming to the Table, and the Linked Descendants working group, we strongly encourage you to do so. Both offer ongoing information, seminars, and meetings that you may find helpful on your journey. For more specific focus on genealogy, Our Black Ancestry offers an invaluable way to seek and share information, overcome roadblocks, and connect with linked descendants.

If you aren’t already a member:  

How can I increase my post’s readership? 

Some suggestions for writing and submission practices which help draw readers to your post. We are happy to discuss when it comes time to publish:

  • Provide a unique title relevant to the content of the post.
  • Provide us with a list of tags (the most relevant keywords to your article). This will help your post be discovered during online searches.  Many resources are available to help you choose your tags, or simply describe your article in one sentence, and then choose the top words from that description to use as your tags. Aim for 5-10 or so.   
  • Provide or embed links to sources consulted for the writing, or to sources that will add more to the story.
  • Share your BitterSweet post on all your social media. Forward it to family and friends, and ask them to share as well.    

Does my original material still belong to me?

Absolutely! For all original material posted in BitterSweet:

  • Copyright and ownership remain with the original writer, even if a member of the BitterSweet team sets up and publishes the post, and even though inquiries about the post may go to members of the BitterSweet team (they will be forwarded to you to respond to if you choose);
  • No restrictions on where else posts on this blog may be published, but there is an expectation that writers comply with the requirements of other publications and sites;
  • BitterSweet displays a copyright notice to remind visitors and readers to observe all the conventions and legalities. They may quote lines and short excerpts from a blog post as long as they cite the writer and source. They may not quote without attribution. They also may not excerpt substantial portions or an entire post without the permission of the writer;
  • BitterSweet may not give permission to anyone to copy posts or substantial portions of posts. Permission to copy may only be given by the author (you!);
  • The team will refer anyone requesting permission to copy or publish elsewhere to the original writer, and in so doing, will disclose whatever contact information the original writer provided.

Fair Use, Attribution and Copyright Guidelines for Writers Using Material from Third Parties.

By making content available in a post, you represent and warrant that:

  • The downloading, copying and use of the content will not infringe the proprietary rights, including but not limited to the copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret rights, of any third party;
  • If your employer has rights to intellectual property you create, you have either (i) received permission from your employer to post or make available the content, including but not limited to any software, or (ii) secured from your employer a waiver as to all rights in or to the content;
  • You have attributed quotations, cited resources and otherwise fully complied with any third-party licenses relating to the content, and have done all things necessary to successfully pass through to end users any required terms.