Experience welcomes pitches for reported stories and first-person essays that examine the power of experience to spark ideas, solve problems, transform industries, and drive personal growth. We use “experience” as a verb, not a noun; our stories aren’t about things that have happened to people, but about things people are choosing to do. We’re open to stories on a broad range of subjects, so long as they’re original, thorough, thought-provoking, and beautifully written.
In general, here’s what works:
Stories that contain a compelling narrative. Stories that contradict conventional wisdom. First-person accounts that are honest and unguarded. Self-deprecating humor. Stories of failure or conflict. Topics or angles we haven’t seen before.
… and here’s what doesn’t work:
Life cycle events. Cultural chin-scratching. Blog-like navel-gazing. Stories about travel adventures, particularly trips around the world. Clichés. Stories about lovely people doing lovely things. Stories about people who already have PR machines. (For celebrities, we have a standard questionnaire.)
Experience publishes stories in four main formats:
Richly-reported, keenly observed, multiple-source stories that examine how experience has driven someone’s trajectory, changed an industry, or shaped a community. Successful stories convey a sense of place and offer a behind-the-scenes look at a field or subculture. Ideas pieces need to be, on some level, surprising.
900-word essays that tell the story of a compelling self-contained experience or connect lived experience to political, social, or cultural trends. We also publish ghostwritten essays on behalf of people with direct connections to political and cultural trends. Successful essays focus more on the experience than the backstory, and convey emotion through detail: showing, not telling.
500- to 600-word Q&As with people who have unusual, dynamic, or compelling jobs. Questions should focus on what it’s like to do the job and, if relevant, how the work or the industry has changed.
I Tried It
600-word, tightly-written first-person essays that describe an experience nearly anyone could have. These must be vivid, full of details and sharp observation, and able to connect the experience itself to broader ideas or trends.
Please submit pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your contact information and links to previously published work. We strongly recommend sending pitches instead of stories written on spec. We do not accept submissions that have been published elsewhere. We read all submissions, and will contact you if we’re interested in publishing your material