What is Sold Short?
Sold Short is about inequality. Sometimes that will be about class, wealth, and corporate misdoings. Did you know that in the United States, since the beginning of the 1980s, the top one percent’s wealth grew by 275 percent, while the bottom 20 percent saw just an 18 percent increase? No wonder most people are so mad about politics these days.
But inequality isn’t just about money. It’s about how we go about our daily lives and our intersecting identities. Sold Short stories focus on the social safety net, corporate shenanigans, the labor movement (as a broader political entity as well as in relation to workers), gender, racial justice, feminism, Indian Country and tribal sovereignty, sexuality, wealth inequality, white supremacy, immigration and borders, state violence and the criminal legal system, public goods and privatization schemes, billionaire antics, and general hoarding among the top one percent and their fellow travelers.
How do I pitch?
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I generally prefer to receive a short pitch describing your idea, rather than an already completed draft.
What kinds of stories are you looking for?
Ones backed by both strong reporting and a unique angle. At times we’re looking for Sold Short pieces that are in conversation with our current news cycle, stories that challenge our readers to reinterpret the headlines they’ve read in The New York Times or the quick, surface-level discussions they’ve watched on cable news. But more often we’re looking for articles that are proactive, ones that are investigative or break news—ideally paired with a clear, compelling narrative. Our stories explore policies, systems, and ideas, but always through the frame of how people live. So that could be an exposé on corporate wrongdoing, an exploration of a local policy experiment (either good or bad!), or a profile of activists and organizers trying to change the system.
Pitches don’t have to be too long—a couple of paragraphs are normally enough—but they should be clear about what you want to do. A few sentences that could conceivably act as your thesis statement or “nut graf” are strongly encouraged. (Think of it as answering the question: So what is this story actually about?) If there are other pieces on the subject that have run before it (this includes pieces at The New Republic), you should include a couple of sentences distinguishing your pitch from what’s been published already or demonstrating how, through further reporting, you can develop the story in an original way. If you have direct experience with the subject, let me know about that, too. And don’t worry if you don’t have clips; first-time and unpublished writers are encouraged to pitch.
Anything you don’t want?
Anything best described as an op-ed. Dry policy writing and articles that are better suited for academic journals. Stiff argumentative pieces that preach to the choir rather than challenge or inform—“Therefore, it is imperative that we pass Medicare for All today”—and stories that only superficially engage with their subject.
Can you share some freelance pieces you’ve published to make some of this feel more concrete?
Can $500 a Month Change Your Life? This one takes a policy—a no-strings, supplemental universal basic income—and moves it away from wonky abstraction and into the space of real lived experience. (Also, the answer to the headline is yes—kind of.)
A New Home in a Country Shuttered by a Pandemic The pitch on this one was extremely clear about what the writer wanted to do: Talk to recently resettled refugees and refugee service organizations about how the pandemic has changed the already difficult work of finding financial footing and a sense of community in a new home.
Blow Up the Restaurant Industry and Start Over This one hits a few sweet spots for Sold Short. It features solid reporting that captures what’s screwed up, good data on how these burdens are shared unevenly, strong interviews that illustrate the stakes, and interesting ideas about what new models might look like.
Mothers Against Vampire Real Estate This piece is a nice hybrid of person-focused reporting—in this case, Moms 4 Housing and the affordability crisis in the Bay Area—and an ideas piece about the work of defeating the people and systems that create scarcity and mass suffering.
How much do you pay?
The rate will depend on the piece—how long it is, the difficulty of reporting involved, the time it will likely take to pull together. I don’t generally accept short takes on my desk, so most of my fees start at $400. Kill fee minimum is $50.
What’s the general process like?
I aspire to respond to every pitch I get—whether to say yes or no or to follow up with clarifying questions—but my inbox tends to get quite full, and things slip by me. If you want to follow up because you think I’ve missed your pitch, please do. If it’s taking too long and you want to pitch elsewhere, please do.
If a pitch is accepted, we’ll agree on a rate, word count, and deadline to file. I’m available to talk through or troubleshoot the piece during the reporting and writing process, so don’t feel like you have to work it all out in a vacuum.
Once you file, I try to be as transparent as possible about my editing timeline. If I am working on a few other pieces before I can get to yours, I will tell you that and include a window when I expect to have your edits back to you. In general, I think open communication is a good thing and helps us both respect each other’s time. Rinse and repeat until we’re done with the draft, and then I’ll let you know when it’s scheduled to run.
If anything changes, I’ll let you know as soon as I can.
Nope. Please pitch!