We are always hunting for fresh, exciting essay ideas, and where better to look than from The Information’s own illustrious readership? If that’s something you’re interested in, here’s how to make it happen.
Step 1: Come up with an idea.
Good ideas come in all shapes and sizes, but in general they are:
- Specific. Less “AI will transform the human experience” and more “AI will transform the way we think about work in these five ways.” See: To Fix Section 230, Target Algorithmic Amplification
- Persuasive. Ultimately, an essay is an argument. Whatever your take is, you have to make a good, evidence-based case. That’s not to say every essay has to be argumentative, but it certainly can’t be wishy-washy. See: Data Is the New Sand
- Provocative. “AI will transform the way we think about work in these five ways” isn’t a good opinion piece if those five ways are all obvious. The goal is not to repeat existing ideas, but rather to introduce new ones into the world. See: The End of Venture Capital as We Know It
- Meaningful. Not every essay has to have world-historical significance, but it should address something a significant part of our audience cares about. See: Venture Capital Isn’t the Problem—It’s Venture Capitalists
- Insightful. This is arguably the most important element. What do you know better than anyone else? What is the thing we should all be talking more about? Draw on your own experience—the best idea for The Information is the one only you could have. See: The Underside of Silicon Valley’s Co-Founder Mantra
Step 2: Write a pitch.
While we occasionally accept unsolicited drafts, most of our opinion pieces start with some kind of pitch. This is better for you because it requires less work upfront and better for us because we can help refine the idea.
Lengthwise, your pitch might be anywhere from a few sentences to a few paragraphs—think of it as a fleshed-out outline or an abstract of what the finished essay will eventually become. Be sure to include your name, your current job title and anything else in your personal or professional background that might be relevant to your idea (see 5 above). Put it all in an email with “Reader Pitch” at the front of the subject line so we know it’s not spam and send it to [email protected].
A few caveats here:
- Please don’t pitch your idea to multiple outlets at the same time as that can create awkward situations. We don’t republish pieces, even if the only place they’ve appeared is on your personal blog. If you want to publish with The Information, we ask that you come here first.
- We promise to read every idea submission, but we can’t promise to respond to each one. Don’t hesitate to follow up as things do occasionally get lost in the inbox, but if you haven’t heard from us within two weeks, that means we’re not able to move forward and you should feel free to send your pitch elsewhere.
- Just because one pitch is a no doesn’t mean the next one won’t be a yes, so please do keep sending ideas.
Step 3: Revise, revise, revise.
If we’re interested in your pitch, we’ll arrange a time to speak by phone or video chat to address any questions and settle on a due date for the first draft. All essays published in The Information go through an editing and fact-checking process, so expect feedback on everything from word choice and sentence structure to the substance of your argument and the evidence you use to support it.
During this editing process, there are two things we must ask you to do:
- Respond to all questions and requested changes directly. You are well within your rights to object if you feel that we’ve gone amiss, but do know that ultimately our editors decide what we publish.
- Do your very best to meet deadlines. We’ll work with you to make sure you have the time you need, but we also have our own calendar to manage, which means we need to know what’s coming in and when.
All of this requires no small amount of effort, and in recognition of that we pay our contributors $500 per piece, which you may choose to negotiate or waive depending on your needs. Not all essays we commission will make it to publication, but if all goes well, eventually we’ll set a date and publish.
Step 4: Rake in the kudos.
All of our opinion pieces get The Information’s full promotional attention, including direct emails to subscribers, push notifications on our app and posts on social media. Please share the piece widely, although note that opinion pieces also live behind The Information’s paywall, meaning nonsubscribers won’t be able to read them. Posting screenshots is totally kosher as long as they’re just a teaser. After two weeks, you can repost the full piece anywhere you wish, as long as you say that the piece appeared first on The Information and link back to the original.