An issue of Pipe Wrench is made of one core longform story and a constellation of conversation pieces — contributions in a range of styles and media that interpret, react to, or springboard off the core story.
Core stories come from pitches; conversation pieces are commissioned. We’d love to hear from longform writers with core story ideas, and from anyone who’s interested in doing a conversation piece.
Here are ten quick answers to ten common questions.
1. Where do I send my pitch? firstname.lastname@example.org
2. When do you accept pitches? On a rolling basis. Pitch at will.
3. What should my pitch include? The basics: your contact info; the focus and goal of your story; a proposed word count; details about any research, reporting, or interviewing you’re planning; and your answer to the question “Why am I the person to tell this story?”
4. Is there a submission fee? Nope.
5. Do I need to provide clips of other published work? No. If you have them and want to share, great. But if you have a good story to tell and you’re the right person to tell it, we don’t care if or how much you’ve published before.
6. What are your rates? Longform stories start at $1500. Conversation pieces start at $150. (Help bring these up!)
7. What’s the deal with copyright? It’s yours. We get 90-day exclusivity to publish you. After that, just cite us in any reprint.
8. When will I hear back from you? We’ll let you know if we’re interested within 30 days.
9. Can I pitch the same story to other outlets? We wish you would! We want your work to get published, whether it’s here or elsewhere. Let us know if you’re pitching multiple outlets, and if your pitch is accepted somewhere else.
10. How do I suggest myself for a conversation piece? Here’s a form! Fill it out and tell us who you are, what you do, and what you’d like to create.
What to pitch
We’re looking for:
- Longform nonfiction with a strong narrative and a critical lens. What does that mean? It means stories that are at least 4,000 words, that take us on a journey beyond the Who-What-When-Where, and that dig deep into the Why. Personal essay, researched essay, cultural critique, creative nonfiction, historical inquiry, narrative reporting — we’re open to all of it, as long as it tells a good story and interrogates its topic thoroughly.
- Stories that don’t have a natural home elsewhere. Writers: you know how you go on Twitter and ask “Who’s gonna pay me to write about [thing you can’t stop thinking about at the moment]?” We want to get as excited about your obsession as you are. Bring us those stories.
- Perspective, and point of view, and personality. Have a voice. Have a thesis. Have an angle. Readers should take something away from your story beyond “Now I know more about X.” They should still be thinking about it and grappling with it and questioning themselves days later.
- New writers, writers from perspectives and communities that have been underrepresented in media, writers who are not afraid of speaking truth to power and saying the things that need to be said, writers that are ready to interrogate both their topic and themselves.
Given that, we’re not looking for:
- Reviews and opinion pieces.
- Profiles that don’t explore some larger issue.
- Memoir without a larger arc.
- News-pegged stories, unless they have a strong evergreen backbone.
This is where it gets fun. You’ll get a draft of the core story before it publishes, and time to read, sit with, and digest it. And then you’ll create something, based on whatever piece of it spoke to you (or provoked you!). Maybe your creation will follow the theme of the core story; maybe it won’t. Along with your creative work, you’ll write a paragraph or two explaining the thought process that led from the core story to your piece.
We’ll be reaching out to people to commission these — by definition you can’t pitch them, since you don’t know exactly what you’ll be reacting to or what your response will be. That means we need to know who you are and what you do, so we know when to tap you! We want a wide range of perspectives, crafts, disciplines, and media. A novelist writing short fiction, a musician making a playlist, an essayist telling a personal story. A photo essay. A comic strip. A scene of dialogue. A Tik Tok. An original song. A reading list. A recipe. Activists, film critics, theologians, sociologists, poets, chefs, yogis, students. People we haven’t thought of yet. All ages. All backgrounds. You? You.
Rates, contracts, and publication
Rates for core stories start at $1500 and go up from there depending on the type of story, length, and research/reporting required. We’ll also reimburse basic research and reporting expenses like purchasing books/articles and local travel for interviews/research, but are unable to fund major reporting trips at this time.
If we decide to work together, you’ll get a writer’s agreement outlining your rights that’s been developed in partnership with the Freelance Solidarity Project of the National Writers’ Union, and you’ll receive 50% of your fee upon signing. (Interested in our complete freelancer policies? Here they are.)
For the story itself, you’ll work with a Pipe Wrench editor — heads up, we’re a hands-on bunch! — and your piece will be fact-checked before publication.
Rates for conversation pieces start at $150 and go up from there depending on the specifics — the length, the type of media, the work required. We’ll talk through the scope of what you’ll create to come up with an equitable fee.
If we decide to work together, you’ll get an agreement outlining your rights that’s been developed in partnership with the Freelance Solidarity Project of the National Writers’ Union, and you’ll receive 50% of your fee upon signing. (Interested in our complete freelancer policies? Here they are.)
Depending on what kind of work you do, you’ll either work directly with a Pipe Wrench editor, or with a partner that has specific experience in your medium. Nonfiction writing will be fact-checked before publication where applicable.
How to pitch
Send an email to email@example.com with the following:
- Your name and contact info.
- A link to your website, if you have one.
- A summary of your proposed story that includes its focus and thesis.
- A proposed word count. Core stories start at 4,000 words and get longer from there.
- A brief outline of any research, reporting, or interviewing you’re planning.
- Your answer to “Why am I the person to tell this story?”
- Your answer to “Why is this a story people need to read right now?”
- Anything else you think we should know about you.
If you’re pitching the same story to other publications, let us know. If you’re pitching exclusively to Pipe Wrench before approaching other outlets, let us know that, too.
We’ll be in touch within 30 days to let you know if we’re interested.
Fill out this short form! We’ll add you to our big ol’ spreadsheet of potential contributors, and will be in touch when it makes sense.