Editing

Here are some types of pitches for our History, Life, and Culture sections that I’d love to receive for Slate

I’m looking to commission pieces that make connections across history, politics, and culture, and that feel urgent, necessary, and sometimes fun. Here are some examples of pieces I’ve edited that fit this bill. 

If you have a book coming out and are trying to figure out how to pitch parts of it to me, the following is for you.

And…here are some things I can do without:

  • Pieces built around the argument that it’s important to learn and study history. Slate readers are generally already on board; you can assume this is a given.
  • Pieces that reflect on a bit of history that seems similar to something in the news, but doesn’t have a direct connection to it. If you have expertise about a bit of history that relates to a story in the news, please do go ahead and pitch that, but the connection has to be something clearly relevant. The Trump and COVID eras have left us pretty sensitive to strained historical analogies! I always try to think about roots, rather than echoes
  • Pieces that rest on the revelation of a “hidden history” or “discovered history” that’s not actually new. If an archivist had seen and cataloged a document, it wasn’t “unearthed”….if a non-white group is very familiar with a story, it wasn’t “unknown.”
  • Anniversary-pegged pitches, with some exceptions. Readers don’t really seem to care, unless the anniversary is huge and getting some discussion beyond your pitch.

Nuts and bolts:

  • It’s rebecca dot onion at slate dot com.
  • Send only a pitch, not the full piece, so that I can have a sense of what your argument is, and help you shape the piece as you write it.
  • Slate has a good Pitch Guide with more details about the format (plus a list of other editors and their areas of interest).
  • If something is time-sensitive (i.e., pegged to news that you imagine will drop out of the cycle quickly), do put that in the subject line of your email.
  • We usually run pieces between 1000-2000 words.
  • We can pay $200, or sometimes more, depending on the piece’s level of difficulty.
  • If you don’t hear back from me in 10 days’ time, please assume I’ve passed on the pitch.

(This page was last updated in April 2022.)