Breaking into the literary dream that is New York magazine means you’ve got to offer something new, an interesting angle or exclusive access into a little-known subcultural scene in the city (or anywhere else in the world).
“A freelance pitch that provides unusual insight and access into a slightly more hidden world or scene has a better chance of becoming a story here,” said editorial director Jared Hohlt in How To Pitch: New York [sub req'd]. ”Features that trend to get approved are narrative-focused and designed to engage the reader in good old fashioned storytelling.”
David Haskell, the magazine’s feature editor, agrees — but he needs more than just a good anecdote.
“Yes, they have to be interesting and under-covered,” he said after Wednesday night’s “Behind the Longreads” panel. “But what I want to know is why this particular writer? What does he or she have to bring to the story that is so exceptional?” At the discussion hosted jointly by Longreads and New York, the mag’s editor watched on as editor-in-chief Adam Moss delved into a talk on feature writing with three contributing editors, Wesley Yang, Jessica Pressler and Dan P. Lee.
Pointing out in particular the “Travis the Menace” tale, a piece actually pitched by Lee to the glossy, Haskell stressed the importance of the writer’s personal style. ”I’m looking for something that’s driven by a mind or a voice that’s enough to elevate the story (like the story of Travis the chimp) beyond a tabloid account.”
Get more pitching tips in How To Pitch: New York.