Paper Plane accepts 900-2000 word pitches from student journalists in Canada, including those who write for the student press. We’re interested in feature stories (not hard news!) that are relevant to a national audience. We’re keen on hearing stories from Halifax, for example, but tell us why someone in Calgary should care about it.
Right now, we're paying $0.10/word.
A good pitch to Paper Plane should have a few things:
- Put the word PITCH and a hint as to what your story is about somewhere in the subject line so it doesn’t get lost in our inbox.
- Tell us what your story is right away, don’t wait until the end of the pitch.
- Tell us how much you’ve written already. We will accept stories pitched on spec (that is, pre-written), but we will never ask you to write a story before we buy it. We know many of your pitches will be stories you’ve worked on as part of class assignments, and that’s okay! No need to send what you’ve written already, but please do let us know if you’ve already written all or part of it.
- Tell us who you are! We’d love to hear where you’re based and how you identify. We highly value voices that are under-represented in Canadian media, and are happy to provide as much support as possible so we can bring fresh perspectives to our audience.
- If you have published anything before, link to a few samples of your work. Please don’t let this discourage you, though. If you haven’t published before, that’s okay!
- Give us a very brief (1-2 sentences!) plan on how you might report the story, and how many words you think you need to tell it. We’d like to see that you have some sources in mind and that you have access to them.
Pitches should go directly to the editor, Dexter McMillan (email@example.com). We’re committed to responding to every pitch within a few days. If you haven’t heard from us by then, feel free to poke us a bit. If your pitch is accepted, we’ll send you some contributor guidelines so you know exactly what we expect, and what you can expect from us.
Questions? Leave us a comment or send us an email.
I’ve just recently graduated. Will you accept my pitch?
Yes, but we will prioritize pitches from current students over those who are recently graduated.
What does the perfect pitch to Paper Plane look like?
The perfect pitch for Paper Plane will be no more than 4-5 paragraphs long, written in the body of an email. It will start with 2 sentences introducing yourself and where you've written before. Then, it will lead with the focus statement of your story to pull the editor into your pitch. Then you'll describe more about the story to build the stakes, and finally, tell me how many words you'd like to tell the story.
Ideally, you'll also tell us one or two voices – by name – that you'd like to feature in the story.
I wrote a story for a class assignment. Will you publish it?
We’d love to! Pitch it to us as you would any other story, and let us know if you have written some or all of it. If you plan on writing a story you think we might like for a class assignment, feel free to pitch it in advance of you writing it.
However, note that we may ask for edits that make your story incompatible with your professor’s expectations for the class assignment.
My pitch was rejected. Can I try again?
We’ll try our best to let you know why your pitch wasn’t accepted. Maybe the idea wasn’t developed enough, or maybe it’s just not right for the Paper Plane audience. If you can address those issues, we’d be happy to hear your pitch again.
Can I pitch audio stories?
We currently don’t have plans to publish audio, but we’d be willing to find a way if the project was right. When in doubt, just pitch it!
I’ve never freelanced anywhere before. Is it hard?
No, but it can be a lot of work. We have some expectations that we’ll lay out clearly if your pitch is accepted. First, we’ll agree on a target publication date and a deadline for your first draft, which is usually a week before publication. That week can be a little hectic, and we might go back and forth on edits a few times before it’s ready to go.
We’d like to demystify pitching and writing as a freelancer, and we have several resources for you if you’re feeling lost during this time. We’ll always be available to answer questions if you aren’t clear on how the process works. While other publications might not have time to answer all your questions, we’d like to make sure you feel good about the process.
Why don’t you want me to send you my already written draft when I pitch?
Generally, professional freelancers don’t do any work for free, and will rarely write on spec because it’s too risky. If you pitch a story on spec to another publication, it’s a red flag that you might be pretty new. Editors also like to have some hand in shaping the story before it’s written, and pre-written stories are harder to change.
We certainly won’t look down on you if you do send us your pre-written story, but we want to make sure we’re helping you develop habits that will help you succeed as a freelancer in the future.
Can I DM you a pitch on Twitter?
Pitches need to go through email so they’re all in once place and we don’t lose track of them. But if you have any questions about the process or the kinds of stories we’re interested in, our DMs are always open to answer those questions.
Can I have a copy of my story to put in my portfolio?
Absolutely. We’re a paid subscription newsletter, so it’s not as easy as providing a link to include your story in your portfolio. We can provide you with a PDF version of your story, and we may experiment with removing the paywall for older stories in the future.
I write for my campus newspaper and am considering a career as a journalist, but journalism is not my major. Can I pitch you?
Yes! We're here to support every student who has journalistic aspirations. While many reporters have done a degree in journalism, many great journalists come from other backgrounds. Pitch away.