Monthly visitors: 500,000
Background: Narratively’s dedication to in-depth journalism is arguably the perfect antithesis to a world full of memes, clickbait, and listicles. It launched in 2012 and prides itself on looking beyond the news headlines and focusing instead on ordinary people with extraordinary stories. “We like to focus on stories that might have slipped through the cracks…stories from anywhere in the world…that really show what it means to be human,” says Brendan Spiegel, editorial director and co-founder. “We want the story to be an experience for the reader to dive into.”
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Narratively has a diverse readership, but the largest segment of its visitors is ages 25-35. When the site launched, those readers were treated to articles that mostly hovered around the 5,000-word point. But editors are now focusing more on stories in the 2,000-word range and occasionally running long-form features.
What to pitch: Narratively is very freelance driven, and once per month, editors send out a call for pitches that focus on a particular theme or topic. You can sign up here to get on that email list. But if freelancers have an idea that will fit into any of Narratively’s current sections they should feel free to pitch at any time.
Pitches for the Secret Lives section should lift the veil on surprising and secretive jobs, pursuits and lives. Renegades articles focus on rebels who are doing things their own way—and changing the world while they’re at it. Super Subcultures introduces readers to people who build their lives around weird and wonderful obsessions. Hidden History stories reveal the forgotten and untold stories that shape who and where we are today. And Memoir articles are crafted personal stories that rise above the flood of confessional “it happened to me” first-person writing—this is the place to pitch truly unique stories that only you can tell.
Spiegel reveals that readers should be intrigued by the subject of the article (e.g. Secret Life of an Autistic Stripper, They Meet Up in Motels Across America…to Trade Old Beer Cans) but the reporting and writing should showcase how special the person or group really is. Word count for all sections is about 2,000.
What not to pitch: Every section is open to freelancers.
What publicists should pitch—and when: Narratively does run excerpts from non-fiction book writers. Publicists who feel that they have their hands on a story that hasn’t been told should feel free to reach out. No product pitches, please. Lead time is 2-3 months.
Recent freelance stories pitched and published: A freelancer pitched Inspired by Black Lives Matter, This Masked Man Patrols Under the Cover of Darkness. Editors knew it was a winner because the story goes behind the scenes with an ordinary person who is doing something truly extraordinary—showing the reader not just what his colorful pursuit is like, but why he does it and what drives him, says Spiegel. A freelancer also pitched Meet the Super-Serious Sasquatch Chasers of America’s Premier Bigfoot Conference. The article hooked editors because the story focuses on real people and why they find this pastime so fulfilling.
Etiquette: All submissions should be sent via Narratively’s Submittable page. In your pitch be sure to mention who your main characters are in the story and describe the exciting scenes that readers will be taken to.
Percentage of freelance content published: 90 percent
Percentage of freelance pitches accepted: 10 percent
Lead time: 2-3 months
Pay rate: $300 first-person; $400 reported pieces
Payment schedule: 45 days after publication
Kill fee: 25 percent
Rights purchased: Sixty-day exclusive, then rights are shared with the writer
Direct all pitches:
EDITOR’S NOTE: Though we’ve updated this article recently, the speed at which things move in media means things may have already changed since then. Please email us if you notice any outdated info.
Topics:How to Pitch