The LEVEL Pitching Guide
Welcome to Medium’s new publication for Black and Brown men. Tell us your stories.
Update 6/7/22: Level has a new home. You can read this article and other new articles by visiting LEVELMAN.com.
Welcome to LEVEL. We’re new! (For now, at least.) It’s important to know what we’re trying to do here, the kinds of stories we want to run, and how to maximize your chances of writing those stories.
Our mission and our readers
It’s simple: We aim to fundamentally change what you think of when you hear the phrase “men’s publication,” and to do so through and for the worldview of Black and Brown men. To unpack that a bit:
- “Men” is a broad descriptor, and we intend to reflect that breadth. If we run a piece about sex or relationships, the piece will, whenever possible, not presume the sexuality of you or your partner(s). Similarly, the voice and stance of the publication won’t presume that the reader has always identified as male. We’ll cover explicitly LGBTQ+ issues as well, but even when we’re not, we want all our readers to see themselves in as many stories as possible. (The obvious exception is first-person pieces; after all, a personal essay can only reflect the experience of the person writing it.)
- “Black and Brown” is similarly broad, and while it includes folks from Middle Eastern and South Asian cultures, we’ll be focusing primarily (though not exclusively) on the African diaspora and Latinx cultures.
- One more thing, and this is important: Our audience is primarily men in their thirties, forties, and fifties — in other words, mid-millennials and Gen X. In other other words, this is some grown-ass shit. Our readers are intellectually curious, creatively and professionally ambitious, and emotionally mature.
None of those things limits who is writing for the site, it’s just to help you think about who’s reading it. That’s who the story needs to connect with.
What we cover
LEVEL is organized into three primary categories.
Culture: Exactly what you’d think. Everything from TV to books to podcasts to movies to music to [deep breath] comics to internet culture to games. And probably a few other things, too. We don’t care about covering everything out there, but we’re going to highlight the stuff that matters to you — even if you don’t know it yet — with more nuance and context than you get from other men’s publications like [redacted], [redacted], and [redacted].
- What We Don’t Want: Recaps. Lists. Press-junket interviews with artists just because they have a new project. Treating tweets like news. Hot takes. Caping, uncritical stannery, or any other worship at the altar of celebrity.
- What We Do Want: Thoughtful analysis. Asking (and answering) questions that nobody else has thought to ask. Teasing out the hidden connections between things that seem unrelated. Deep conversations with people who make interesting, challenging things—and who have something to say.
Life: Everything that happens — and everywhere you can seek to grow. Career, finance, wellness (physical/mental/emotional), food, travel, sex, love, friendship, fatherhood. Probably a few others too.
- What We Don’t Want: Outdated workout tips. Robb Report-style luxury shopping.
- What We Do Want: Voicey, knowledgeable, well-sourced service journalism that helps you level up your palate and your experiences. Rigorously reported trend coverage. Personal essays that range from honest and vulnerable to hilarious.
Race, Identity, and Politics: Things that are explicitly informed by living as a Black or Latinx man. Casting a critical eye at societal forces both inside and outside those communities.
- What We Don’t Want: Thoughtless contrarianism. Unfocused rants. Jargon-laden academic writing.
- What We Do Want: Incisive critiques. Investigative projects that drag misdeeds into the light of day. Commentary that demonstrates a thorough grasp of policy.
How to pitch
Finally, right? Thanks for bearing with all that. The short answer is: email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. But keep reading!
In these early days while we’re growing, we’re hoping to keep things as simple and standardized as possible. So please give your email with a subject line that includes the word “Pitch,” just so we know what we’re looking at. Inside, please make sure the pitch has these elements:
- A slug or a sample headline that distills the idea into a few words
- One or two paragraphs that unpack the idea and give us a sense of both your grasp of the story and why you’re the person to write it. If it’s an essay, let your voice shine through. If it’s a reported story, who would you talk to? If it’s a profile, do you have access? That little bit of pre-reporting is often the difference maker between a pass and a green light.
- The proposed word count and treatment you imagine. Is this a written-through piece? A Q&A? A profile? A feature? (The majority of our stories will fall in the 1,000 to 1,500 word range; once you get past 2,000 words, that’s feature territory)
- If this is your first time pitching, tell us a bit about yourself and—and this is important—include links to some of your favorite stories you’ve written. (Yes, even if they’re self-published.)
Once the editor and writer agree upon a story idea, prospective headline, word length, and due date, we will send you a contract to sign. You will receive payment within 30 days of the story’s publish date. We pay by the word.
Here’s a useful link explaining the nuts and bolts of writing commissioned work for Medium.
What if you have a story you’ve already written on Medium that you think is right for us? Join our Partner Program, and you’ll have the opportunity to have your work featured on LEVEL. Learn more about the Partner Program here and when you have a Medium story that you want our editors to see, email it to us at email@example.com and put “Amplify” in the subject line.
The waiting game
In a perfect world, every time you pitch you’d get an immediate response — and in a perfect world, that response would be an enthusiastic yes, or at least a detailed explanation of why the idea isn’t right for us. But editors are anything but perfect, and there will definitely be times where you don’t hear back; if it’s been a week, feel free to follow up.
That’s it! Pitch away. And good luck.
The LEVEL Team