So You'd Like to Write for Paste Food

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First of all, you don’t have to use a typewriter to write for us. We just liked that picture.

We’re always looking for new contributors with bright ideas, and we didn’t want the process of pitching us to be shrouded in mystery. Read on to learn what kind of stories resonate with us, and how to make your pitch stand out from the pack.

Paste Food does not run recipes.
We love recipes, but there are already about a million websites out there that offer recipes—and do a fantastic job of it. We focus instead on the intersection of food and pop culture. That’s because…

Paste is a pop culture website.
So think of your pitch in terms of how the ways we obtain and consume food fit into the pop culture landscape, or vice versa. Crossover with music, movies, technology, geek culture, travel, television, design, or comedy is terrific.

Please don’t pitch us stories about coffee, beer, or cocktails.
Paste has its own drink section, Paste Drink. If your idea is 51 percent about food and 49 percent about beverages, then yes, pitch it to Paste Food. Otherwise, your pitch is better suited for Paste Drink.

This story is clearly a Paste Drink story.
17 IPAs To Enjoy While Celebrating IPA Day

This one is about pairing tea with cheese, and it felt right for Paste Food.
5 Unexpected Tea & Cheese Pairings

And here’s a list of the Paste staff, so you can direct your pitch to the appropriate section editor. Before you pitch, ask yourself: is this story primarily about food? If the answer is no, then it’s not for Paste Food.

Please don’t use derivatives of “nom”
In fact, think long and hard about using the words or phrases on this list. True, we’ve let a few noms slip into scattered Paste Food stories, but no more! (What can I say, we’re constantly refining our voice.) We aim to be 100 percent nom-free from now on.

If you work for a public relations company, this part is for you.
Thank you for reading this. You are welcome to send us press releases, but remember that we don’t run recipes. If we see a phrase like “Easy Nom-Tastic Recipes” in your subject line, we’re just going to delete that email. Same goes for emails about cocktails or cocktail recipes.

Paste Food does not run recipes.
Just a reminder.

But “Cooking The Simpsons” includes a recipe!
That column is the only exception, because duh. The whole “don’t pitch us recipes” thing still stands.

Please send us actual pitches.
Sometimes we get these very sweetly written email introductions, things like “Hi! I love your website, and I love writing about food, and I’d really like to write for Paste. Can I pitch you?”

The answer is yes—yes, you can pitch us. We are here to be pitched. In fact, save everyone a step by skipping the email introduction and head straight for emailing us a pitch.

Here’s a good thing to know about editors: their problem is that they are constantly in need of smart, engaging, and authoritative content that’s true to the tone of their publication. Your pitch is the solution to that. (I really wish someone had told me that when I was starting out.)

Refrain from sending what I call a donut pitch. This is a pitch that has some interesting substance, but is empty in the middle. It’s a neat idea with no story. (This is something else I wish I’d known years ago.)

If you don’t have published clips, that’s fine. Most likely you have a blog, so just include links to a few posts that prove you are the best person to write the article you’re pitching.

If you like, you can send us completed essays.
Paste Food runs personal essays, and you are welcome to submit completed essays for consideration. However, for our Life-Changing Cookbooks column, you should inquire first, so we can confirm there’s not already an essay in the works about the cookbook you propose to write about.

Speaking of Life-Changing Cookbooks…
That and Farmers’ Market Fetish are the only two columns open for pitching.

Get visual
The best stories also have excellent visual components, and sometimes that means whipping out your own camera. If you’re writing about an experience that you’re particularly passionate about, it’s helpful to take photos. High-quality iPhone photos can work in many applications, especially if you’ve got an eye for photography. If you do use photos from other sources, for the love of macaroni and cheese, get their permission first.

It might take a while to hear back from us.
Yeah, that stinks, I know. Sometimes we reply really quickly, though. There’s no magic formula to this, except to say that we try to consider pitches carefully, and wait until we have a good sense of the story before replying, and sometimes deserving pitches get lost in the shuffle. Don’t take it personally.

Unless it’s a time-sensitive pitch, please wait about two weeks before following up.
And following up is great! Reminders can be very helpful.

We always need lists and galleries.
These kinds of stories are a good way to start writing for us. Here are a few examples of the types of lists that we like to see.

The 10 Best Food Jokes of Jim Gaffigan

How to Not Drive Your Farmer Crazy at the Farmers’ Market

Debunking 5 Common Myths About Food Banks

We generally run three types of galleries: ones that recap a food event, ones that present a funny concept in a way that reveals something insightful about our relationship with food, and ones that gather together notable food items or products that have a seasonal tie-in.

And some galleries we run simply because they look neat.

Hey, thanks for reading this.
The whole business of freelance writing is pretty crazy, and we don’t take that lightly.

You can pitch us at food (at) pastemagazine (dot) com.

Sara Bir is Paste’s food editor.

Photo by Andy Smith CC BY-SA

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