Welcome to chapter 2 of your friendly neighbourhood freelancing newsletter. Thank you for the wonderful response to the first one - it feels good to know this newsletter is of some use. There has also been a success story: someone applied for a job mentioned in the newsletter and got hired! If you have pitched stories or had any positive takeaway from this, please share so that I can brag about it here!
This week’s newsletter has a BIG (in terms of publication) interview featuring the editor of an international market. I’ve kept it for the end because it’s fairly detailed. In addition, as promised, there are many calls for pitches and job opportunities.
After a long time, I have managed to read all the articles I bookmarked for the month. I am sharing some of my favourite reads here. The Smithsonian wrote about researchers who translates bat talk (any bets they are trashing the new Joker movie?). Mint covered a story about how watching Netflix leads to emissions of 1.6kg of CO2 equivalent – forget the Netflix then, just chill. As someone who regularly books properties on Airbnb when travelling, this scam was a shock. Finally, there’s this deeply investigative crime story by Bhavya Dore (an excellent journalist) on sexual abuse, of a boy, and a dog.
In personal news: As some of you may know, I have a literary legend in the family, the late Eunice de Souza. If you are in Goa, check out Solomon Souza’s beautiful portrait of her on a house in Saligao. This artwork is part of Vivek Menezes’ curated project, ICON, for the Serendipity Arts Festival 2019. If you’re in Mumbai, the Bombay Quiz Club is organising a Eunice de Souza Memorial Literature Quiz on Nov 24; it is open to all.
NEED A JOB?
HT Mumbai has an open position in the Weekend features team. Experience: 3-4 years. Must be able to ideate for print + web, write and think on their feet. Email email@example.com
PS: I worked in this team for a year and did some good (if I may say so) stories. My biggest takeaway was learning how to structure my stories.
Arré is looking for talented young writers for a non-fiction daily audio show. Experience: 3-5 years; video journalism/scripting background is a bonus. Requirements: sense of humour and curiosity about the world. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Goose Media, a digital content agency based in Mumbai, is looking for a young writer for a full-time six-month gig. Salary: 50k a month. The applicant is expected to join immediately. Email email@example.com.
Writer and graphic designer Sonaksha put out a tweet seeking web developers (especially those familiar with creating accessible websites). Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dysco is hiring Graphic Design, Content and Social Media Interns in Mumbai. It’s a full-time (paid) role for three months, with the possibility of it becoming permanent. Read more about the roles and requirements. [Dysco is a professional networking platform and community platform and they send out newsletter highlighting job opportunities.]
Go Air has a job opening for a junior content lead that can write, edit, and curate content including press releases & pitch notes for the company. Travel, tourism and leisure writers are preferred. Experience: 5 years minimum. Email email@example.com
The Indian Express is looking for copy editors. Experience: 3-5 years. The vacancy is for the print edition and the job is in Noida. Familiarity with Quark is a bonus. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Free Press Journal is still seeking a social media executive. Experience: 2-3 years. Should be adept at handling Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, and must know how to strategize and increase followers. Salary: industry standards. Send you cover letter and CV to email@example.com.
HAVE IDEAS? GO PITCH!
Himal Southasian is a digital magazine seeking articles on topics like economics, politics and social issues, explorations of culture, history, and contemporary life. It has to pertain to or have relevance to South Asia. Read submission guidelines here. Payment scale: $110-$150. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Chakkar is a new Indian website dedicated to arts and culture. They accept submissions – reviews, profiles, essays, fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, photography, and art. Articles, not creative submissions, are paid.
If you have ideas for media criticism, reported media-adjacent stories, especially if you’re trans, queer, a person of color, pitch email@example.com. Pay varies from $100 for quick stories to $500+ for deeply reported things.
WSJ's Future of Everything seeks great reporters to cover all things innovation, from emerging tech to business, culture, work, food, sports, etc - anything that has the power to impact the way we live, work or play. Open to Q&As, listicles, short and long reported features. Bonus points for audio/photo/graphics components. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
HUMUNGUS is looking for random recaps of TV shows, love letters to good/bad movies or bad/good ones, and wistful, and/or feisty, and meditations on modern masculinity. Email email@example.com
Have a travel story? Pitch Culture Trip. Add your portfolio, and the area/country you’re pitching in the subject line: e.g. Istanbul Photographer or London & Istanbul Writer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Gen Mag is a new publication by Medium focused on politics, power, and culture. They want criticism around music/books/art/food/etc. Essays/Stories pay $1/word, and reported pieces pay $2/word. Email email@example.com.
Syfy Wire is dedicated to all things science fiction, fantasy, and supernatural horror (news and original reporting). If you have idea for recaps, interviews, features, and deep dives, email Jordan.Zakarin@nbcuni.com
Paper Mag wants smart reporting on internet culture, music, pop culture, art, beauty, activism, politics, fashion, and beyond. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Penguin Classics Essay Contest seeks English essays (1000-1500 words) on topics like: Diverse American Voices in Classic Literature OR Strong, powerful Women in Classics Literature. Contest closes on Nov 20; winners get announced on 27 December. Apply here.
The next anthology of Modern Love (now on Amazon Prime) could feature your story! The editors of Modern Love want deeply personal essays about contemporary relationships, marriage, dating, and parenthood. The writing should be emotionally honest and the story be freshly and compellingly told. Essay length: 1,500-1,700 words. Email email@example.com.
In continuance of my interviews with editors, this edition features the India head of an international publication. Charu Kasturi is the Bangalore-based Senior Editor in charge of all of OZY’s international (non-US) coverage. Here, he shares a detailed guide on how to pitch stories to Ozy.
PS: OZY is a good byline to have in your portfolio. They are one of my favourite international publications: their editing and fact checking are thorough, the editors are helpful and kind, the stories are widely read online, and they pay well (upwards of $200) and within a month.
What is your advice to newbie writers pitching you for the first time?
Spend time reading stories from the publication before writing in with a story pitch. In the case of OZY, read at least two or three stories from each of our sections. That will help you figure out which section your pitch might best fit. The stories will also give you a good sense of the elements your story would need to work — the original sourcing, evidence, flavor, research and more. Shape your pitch accordingly.
What makes for an ideal pitch for Ozy?
We like stories that are surprising, told flavourfully, are well-reported, have enough in them to appeal to a global audience, and most importantly, and are fresh— with no prior coverage in international publications.
A strong pitch for OZY should include:
- A smart suggested headline that grabs the editor.
- A line or two detailing why the story you’re pitching matters: for instance, does it represent a major social/cultural shift; is some barrier being broken; is it a counter-intuitive take on something that's in the news; are there lessons for other societies?
- A very strong explanation of what's new and unique about this story you're pitching.
- The evidence: This is very important, especially for trends (Fast Forward) and profiles (Rising Stars/Prov.). The pitch needs to lay out the clear evidence for the trend. With Rising Stars/Prov, you need to show proof that they’re beginning to have an impact.
- Characters: It's helpful to mention the kind of characters you would be reaching out to as voices/sources for the story. We don’t need specific names.
- Any prior coverage: If there is any prior coverage, even in obscure/tiny/niche publications of an international [non-India] nature, flag it here.
What is a common mistake writers make when emailing you?
They often confuse an idea for a pitch. An idea is a subject you want to write on. It needs to be chiseled and finessed, with some pre-reporting, to get it to a point where it's a pitch of the kind described above. Editors like fully formed pitches, not vague — even if very interesting — ideas.
What would make you turn down a pitch?
Prior coverage is an immediate killer. If the pitch isn’t surprising, or shows that the writer has no clue about the publication she/he is pitching to, I would turn it down. If it hits all other notes barring a couple, I would try to shape it with the writer.
The traits of freelancers you enjoy working with?
Freelancers who do their homework, are willing to do pre-reporting to increase the chances of their pitches getting approved, and are willing to work with their editor to shape the pitch and story as smartly as possible, are a delight to work with.
NOTE: At the moment, OZY is looking for strong investigative stories from India that will connect with an Indian audience and have an appeal to a global readership. The features should be over 1000 words, extensively researched and reported, with strong characters and fleshed out personalities, hard evidence, and should mention ways in which the problem can be fixed. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
You would have realised that I mention a lot of foreign publications in my newsletters and on Twitter. It’s because they invariably pay better (all hail the falling rupee!), it is good visibility, and the editors are very forthcoming and give detailed briefs. A pro tip: save all these editor’s contacts, submission guides, and details about the publication in a place that’s easily accessible. I use an Excel sheet.
As mentioned earlier, do write in with suggestions, criticism, hate mail, memes, or dog videos. I welcome and entertain them all.