The Forge Pitching Guide

Photo: Koson Rattanaphan/EyeEm/Getty Images

Editor’s Note, February 2021: We are currently not taking unsolicited pitches! If you’ve written a piece you think would be great for Forge, we invite you to write it on your own Medium profile and then send us a link at forge@medium.com — if we love it, we’ll contact you about featuring it in Forge. Thanks for your interest, and happy writing!

Hi! We’re so glad you’re here, and we are excited to have you pitch your awesome idea for a Forge story. But first…

Forge is Mediums personal development publication. We love stories about productivity, self-improvement, optimization, personal progress, mindfulness, and creativity. We also love stories that comment on the world of personal development in a thought-provoking way. Our stories are backed by journalistic rigor and offer a toolbox of research- and expert-backed strategies to work, live, and be more productive, inspired, and whole.

Formatting your pitch

We’re looking for: longer features that really dig into a topic or trend in depth; daily stories that are about 1000 words in length; and quick hits that are more like 500–750 words and just include a tip or two. When you pitch us, please first take a look at what’s on the site today and make sure your piece feels like a Forge piece!

In your actual pitch, please format your email with the subject line like so: “Pitch: [headline of the piece]” so we know what we’re looking at. In the body of your email, include a suggested headline and a brief paragraph that outlines:

-Your thesis, which should be specific and fresh. Think of this less like a topic (for example, conversation skills or time management) and more like an actual statement or stance (for example, “People think gossip is bad but it’s actually good because it can create social cohesion and remind us of how to act in a society,” or “You don’t have to say yes to everything people ask of you and having this system of these seven yes/no questions will help you not to overcommit”).

-Your backup, by which we mean the names of any experts you plan to interview, links to research you plan to cite, or specific examples of the thing you want to highlight.

-The takeaways for the reader. While we have a lot of respect for a writing process that’s about discovering as you go… this is not the time for that. You know? You know. Start knowing where you’re going to finish.

Basically, including lots of specific details early in the pitching process helps us to know whether or not this piece is going to work for Forge! It’s more efficient this way — we promise.

It also helps if you can include two or three clips of your writing from different publications, so we can get a feel for your voice.

Topics that work for Forge

Forge’s topic areas include (in no particular order): creativity, leadership, productivity, work, digital life, family, health, lifestyle, philosophy, mental health, relationships, self, sexuality, mindfulness, money, parenting, psychology, spirituality, neuroscience, addiction, career, friendship, aging, habits, masculinity, love and dating, digital overload, personal finance, body image, immortality and life extension, time and chronemics, the wellness industry, trauma and recovery, motivation, personality, learning and teaching, caregiving, death, grieving, hobbies, sleep, the brain… and the list goes on.

We look at all these topics through the lens of personal development. If a story touches on some aspect of making life better — on the individual level, the wider cultural level, or even in how we think about what “better” means — it might be a fit for us.

Forge’s voice and approach

The stories we commission are generally grounded in expert knowledge, reporting, or research.

Many of our stories will be “evergreen,” but it always helps to have a strong peg, making it clear why now is the perfect time to explore the topic: a new report or study, a trend, news, a current conversation, or the zeitgeist.

Most of our stories are voicey, and reflect the perspectives, experiences, and cultures of a wide and diverse range of writers. Having said that, our stories are all thoughtful, reflective, and smart. We are often funny, but never snarky. We are not clinical, detached, or disembodied.

We don’t commission many pure personal essays, though many of our pieces are written in the first person. We don’t use vague inspiration-speak or glibly suggest quick fixes to major personal problems. We don’t write about fads for fads’ sake, or celebrities for celebrities’ sake. We are not interested in takedowns or screeds. We respect our readers’ time.

Some examples of good Forge stories

“7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Committing to Anything”: This is clear, actionable, helpful, and feels fresh. There’s voice and personality, and a very specific takeaway. The writer has expertise because she invented this system and knows it works for her. And while it’s a topic that’s familiar and relatable, the actual strategy she’s offering is unique — it’s not the same advice we’ve heard a million times before.

“Gossip is Good”: An unexpected take that sounds counterintuitive at first, but then is backed up by solid research and some reporting on the writer’s part. The authority comes from the experts she interviews and cites. The writer has a voice too, and the right amount of liveliness.

“5 Ways to Train for Creative Work Like an Athlete”: Helpful and concrete advice that also offers some good scaffolding for long-term thinking. The writer has the authority that comes with having succeeded at both of the things she’s writing about.

“Emma Watson Didn’t Invent ‘Self-Partnership’”: A good way for us to address a newsy, trending topic — lots of background information and solid evidence combine to provide some context and to offer the reader a strategy for life. In the end it’s an evergreen piece, which is ideal.

The practicalities of writing for us

Once the editor and writer agree upon a story idea, prospective headline, word length, and due date, we will send the writer 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.

A last note

If you have sent us a pitch and you don’t hear back within a few days, please feel free to follow up. Just please keep in mind that we get a lot of email and can’t respond to every pitch.

Amy Shearn, Senior Editor
ashearn@medium.com

Cari Nazeer, Deputy Editor
cari@medium.com

If you have pieces that are already live on Medium that you would like to be considered for Forge, please email forge@medium.com.

See you in our inboxes!

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