Pitching the Heavy Table (Writers)
The Heavy Table is always happy to consider pitches from outside its existing stable of writers. New voices keep the site lively and inject new perspective into our coverage of food and drink in the Upper Midwest.
When pitching ideas to the Heavy Table (email firstname.lastname@example.org) keep in mind that we look for stories that are focused, timely, and original. Our standard fee ($40 for a longish story) isn’t much, so if you require a certain amount of money, let us know up front so that we can look at our budget. If you’re able to provide professional quality images, that’s great – if not, no worries, if the story is worth running, it’ll be worth us commissioning photography. We don’t have any length requirements – anything from a couple of paragraphs up to 5,000 words might be perfect for the subject that you’re tackling.
The Heavy Table is all about the food. Nearly all of our stories have, at their heart, a food experience – smell, texture, taste, context. If you lead with the food, you’ll rarely go astray. Before you pitch us, read through 10 or 20 of our existing stories to get a sense of what we cover and how we write about food and a sense of place.
Here four common reasons we reject submissions and submission ideas:
1. Too Big
While it’s always admirable to aim high, if we’re going to commission a multi-part series or a new column concept, we’re probably going to hand it to one of our longstanding contributors. This isn’t a strict ban on big ideas, but when offering one up think: How will this add readers to the site? Why am I uniquely positioned to write it? How does it enhance or otherwise amplify the Heavy Table’s mission? Why is it worth of a multi-part or extremely detailed approach?
2. Too “Me”
It’s very tempting, as a writer, to assume that whatever you’re interested in is interesting to the world. Unfortunately this is rarely the case. If you’ve got any first-person aspect to what you’re pitching, think carefully about it. “My Three Favorite Korean Restaurants in the Twin Cities” isn’t very compelling unless you’re a Korean chef, or have done extensive dining in South Korea, for example. By contrast, “My Experience Eating Hennepin County Jail Food” would make for a pretty good read, as the subject is something not all of our readers have had the chance to experience.
Likewise when writing: Strive to eliminate “me,” “I,” and other first-person references whenever humanly possible.
3. Off Season
An apple orchard story should probably come in late August or early September; a North Shore travel piece would be best in late Spring. Hearty stews would be a good topic in November through January. The best stories have a compelling, timely aspect and come at or before the beginning of whatever event or season they’re pegged to.
Before pitching, look around to see who else locally has covered your topic – how thoroughly, and how recently. The Heavy Table can and will cover things other organizations have tackled, but we try to find a different angle or take a deeper approach so that we’re not merely duplicating others’ work. This is doubly true for topics that the Heavy Table has already tackled.
Thanks for thinking of us, and good luck!
The Heavy Table