Pitch Me

As of 5/2021, I’m looking for history-related pitches for Slate. I want pieces that are argumentative, inspired, and far from dutiful in their approach to talking about history. Think urgency, not vegetables.

Types of pieces I’d like to commission:

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

  • Try pitching one specific historical story from your new book, rather than the whole argument.
  • If you’ve made an archival discovery in the course of your research—the kind of discovery that would immediately connect with Slate readers, and lend itself to description in a headline—try pitching a piece that’s just about that document.
  • If you’re lucky enough to have written about a bit of history that connects directly to a story in the news, please do go ahead and pitch that, but the connection has to be something super obvious and clearly relevant. The Trump and COVID eras have left us pretty sensitive to strained historical analogies!
  • We do run book excerpts sometimes. If you can propose a segment (1000-2000 words) of your book that would work, it’s far more likely that the pitch will land. Send along the book, plus the relevant page numbers.

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 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.
  • 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.