You have stories to tell. We want to hear them. We are always searching for new voices to add to the conversation at Unwinnable and we firmly believe that personal experience is the foundation of a great Unwinnable story. More and more, we are drawn to this intersection between the culture we love and the lives we live – and  how that intersection informs our actions and influences our decisions. That means everyone has a story. Even you.

Please read this guide carefully. Our editorial staff is largely volunteer and part time and we have limited space and budget for stories. By following this guide, you’ll help us field pitches faster and give yourself the best chances of selling a story.

General Guidelines

  • Be concise: tell us what you want to write about in 100 words or less.
  • Include a working title.
  • If we don’t already work together, please include two to three clips.
  • Type your pitch directly in the body of the email – not attachments, please.
  • Don’t send completed stories – we discard unsolicited material unread.
  • No multiple submissions – send us your single best idea. If we reject your pitch, feel free to retool and submit again, or pitch us something different.
  • We read submissions twice a month – after the release of Exploits (on or about the first) and after the release of Unwinnable Monthly (on or about the 15th).
  • We respond to every pitch. If you haven’t heard from us within 15 days, feel free to query – things can get lost in the shuffle during busy periods.
  • Don’t let the name Unwinnable fool you into thinking we’re just a videogame site. We love to read stories about comics, movies, TV shows, tabletop games, music and just about anything, really.
  • The timeliness of your subject is not a primary concern. We tend to avoid picking up stories about newly released media and welcome stories on subjects outside the current news cycle.

Some topics are well-covered and we are less inclined to accept pitches dedicated to them. These include: Dark Souls games, Sonic the Hedgehog, KoTOR, Pokemon, the Final Fantasy series, Zelda (particularly Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess), Fortnite, BioShock, Wolfenstein and the Fallout series. Not saying we won’t accept an amazing pitch about those games, but know that the bar is extremely high here. Before you pitch a story about them, see what we and others have already published on the subject. A unique approach is essential.

Finally, please remember we are a small and independent publisher staffed by one full time editor and a handful of part-time volunteers, so we respond slower than larger, fully staffed organizations. Ignoring these guidelines makes us sad, and less inclined to accept your pitch.

Columns (Web and Monthly)
Columns are invitation only. We are not currently accepting pitches for new columns.

Unwinnable Monthly Features
We are looking for stories that inform, illuminate and entertain. We want our stories to help our readers find things that are underground, indie, cult and lesser known. We want our writers to champion those things to wider notice. The world out there is big and strange. Guide us to new discoveries.

Stories for the magazine should aim for about 1,500 words and include supporting quotes from relevant sources. Novices and veterans alike are welcome, but our standard of quality is high, so please come to the editing process with an open mind. We’re eclectic, too, so the best way to get a feel for the sorts of stories we are looking for, both in content and tone, is to read the magazine.

As an example of both a good pitch and the sort of stories we’re looking for, please take a look at this pitch by Sophie Turner. The finished story was published in our February 2017 issue.

We pay $.05 a word for stories accepted to Unwinnable Monthly, up to $150, plus a contributor copy.

Send magazine pitches to magazinesubmissions@unwinnable.com

Exploits
We’re accepting pitches for short essays for Exploits.

Meta essays should run ~500 words and should focus on the ways we interact with culture, the ways we receive and hold and carry culture, the way things fit together across media. Short contextual histories are good, too.

Section essays run ~375 words and focus on a single work (music, TV, games, movies and books) and its importance (good or bad).

We pay $25 for a meta essay and $10 for a section essay, plus a contributor copy. You can check out Exploits #13 to get a feel for the magazine.

Send pitches to exploits@unwinnable.com. Please include “Exploits Pitch” followed by the section (Music, Books, Movies, TV or Games) in the subject line of your email. Keep pitches concise – a sentence or two should do it.

Unwinnable.com
We are looking for short (~1000 words) and punchy stories for the site. If the features in the magazine are expeditions into strange new territories, the stories on the site are signal flares: a quiet burst drawing attention to and shining light on a subject.

We view the work on our site as free form and we encourage it to be experimental. As such, we have no other advice but to surprise us.

We pay $5-10 for stories accepted to Unwinnable.com.

Send pitches to websubmissions@unwinnable.com

Once Your Story is Accepted

  • Your editor will assign a due date and word count.
  • You will also receive a link to new contributor packet, including a blank invoice, a story template and a brief style guide.
  • We only accept stories stories in Google Docs. Instructions are provided in the story template.
  • Once we receive the story, we’ll provide a timeline for editing and publication.
  • Upon publication, submit your invoice. Payment for website and Exploits stories will be made upon receipt. We ask for 30 days for payment for Unwinnable Monthly features.
  • After publication, the rights to your story revert to you after 60 days. At that time, you are free to re-sell or re-publish your story as you wish, though we request notation that first publication occurred with Unwinnable, along with a link if possible. We retain the right to reprint your story, though you will be consulted in that case. Contracts to this effect are available upon request.

Updated May 18, 2018