Hello human (or maybe Time Lord) who writes things! If you are here, then that means you are interested in pitching to and possibly writing for Nerdist, a subsidiary of Legendary Digital Networks, LLC (“LDN”). We know that there are many, many websites that cover pop culture, entertainment, gaming, and genre, and we are so honored that you would consider us. The editorial team at Nerdist knows a thing (or seven) about pitching freelance ideas to online publications. And, we certainly know what captures our eyes and makes us want to reply back to you with a resounding “YES.”
So, here’s a nifty and hopefully comprehensive guide to help you understand 1) how to pitch your clever ideas to Nerdist and 2) what happens if you get an acceptance. Ready?! Let’s go.
Please note: You must have a US bank account and a SSN or a business tax ID number to write for Nerdist due to our payment processing parameters.
Before we get into the nitty gritty details, let’s start off with a few things you should and shouldn’t do when pitching Nerdist. This list isn’t exhaustive but you, a person with brains, will get the gist of what is and isn’t cool.
Do make sure your idea is as original as possible. If you Google it, does it show up in a litany of search results? Is there something already existing on our website that skews close to what you have in mind? If so, we will have to pass on the idea.
Do take time to be familiar with our website! Click and browse around to get a feel for our general voice, editorial style, and the types of things we cover so you can make sure your pitch is tailored for us. Of course, we cover the expected properties like Marvel, DC, Star Trek, and Star Wars but there are many other things that fall in our wheelhouse. Please, no Kardashian pitches.
Don’t pitch an editor via social media, whether direct message or in their mentions. (Yes, even if you know them to any degree.) If you are pitching us for the first time, please use this designated form to send your pitch. If you’ve written for us before, feel free to email the entire editorial team with your idea!
Don’t send over product, podcast, or promotional pitches, whether for yourself or on behalf of a company. If you are a PR professional, please email an editor directly with your inquiry. The pitch form is for website feature ideas only.
Don’t send video pitches through our pitch form. As of November 2022, we are currently in the process of developing a streamlined process for video pitches and submissions from freelancers.
Don’t take a rejection response personally. It does not mean you are doomed to be a failed writer. Sometimes, we get a good pitch that is similar to an idea we plan to publish. Sometimes, it simply doesn’t fit on our packed editorial calendar. And sometimes, it could be for a property that just isn’t resonating with our fans. You still rock. Keep going.
Do let us know if your pitch is time sensitive! We try to check and respond to Typeform and email pitches on a daily basis throughout the week but time is tricky. Please note “Timely” in the subject line to make sure that we get to your pitch as soon as possible. For new films and TV shows that drop all at once, please pitch us within a week of its release. For a specific episodic idea, please pitch it within two days of airing. If you do not hear from us about your timely submission form pitch within a couple of days, it is safe to assume that we are passing on the idea. We are unable to respond to every pitch request directly. If you have written for Nerdist before and emailed us an idea, do follow up in a couple of days.
Do assume that if you don’t hear from us within a week for a non-timely/evergreen pitch in our submission form, that we are passing on the idea. Again, we are unable to respond to every submission pitch form directly. For emailed pitches that aren’t timely, we will follow up within a week with a decision.
Do make sure you have the time and resources to be able to write your post. We totally understand that freelancing is a numbers game. And you are probably writing for several publications at the same time. So, keep that along with other life things in mind when agreeing to write for Nerdist. In other words, if you are heading on vacation or have 12 deadlines and want to pitch something that is very timely, you probably shouldn’t do that to yourself.
Do know that while we maintain a general tone for our website that is approachable yet knowledgeable, it is not our aim to change your voice. Nerdist’s editors strive to edit your piece in a way that retains your unique writing style while adhering to our editorial standards for a finished product that is clear, concise, and maintains a consistent viewpoint.
Do read this entire page. Many questions you may have can be answered here. And if you don’t read it, we will know and virtually frown upon you. (Just kidding. But not really. Read this page.)
We love to look back at TV, film, games, and comics that shaped genre in profound ways! Pitches giving a fresh perspective on a scene, character, or story that left a cultural imprint in some way or a reframing of themes and social commentary around it in present day can be quite interesting. It should be an angle that is unusual and highly intriguing. This Coffin Joe trilogy article retrospectively filters those films through a religious lens and is a great example of what piques our interest.
Of course, Nerdist loves to dive into the big genre properties like The Rings of Power, House of the Dragon, and more. So, we are always open to ideas that give insightful and thoughtful commentary on current offerings, whether they are on-screen or print. We want to go past the surface of “this is good/bad” and dig into thematic choices, powerful moments that will shift the narrative, the merits of character arcs, and other topics that dissect a property. For example, this article about how The Boys lampoons white christian nationalism connects the show’s themes and characters to our real world in a new way.
A lot of genre TV and film content comes from print source material. While we are always cognizant that print storytelling is quite different from on-screen approaches, there is still room to craft interesting connections to source material. We like pitches that go beyond “this TV show is way different from the comics.” Instead, what are some of the clever ways that the onscreen version tips its hat towards the original material? Does it expand upon something or subvert it in a way that elevates the story? If so, we want to hear your thoughts! For some guidance, check out this incredible freelancer post connecting a moment from The Sandman to its source material.
Of course, everything we cover doesn’t have to be connected to a major property. We love weird things in entertainment history, from creepy little known sci-fi films to a strange adaptation that may have been short-lived, but gained a strong following. Nerdist embraces the weird and wild as well as ideas that lean into esoteric knowledge of a show, film, game, or comic. If it is something that isn’t being discussed and should be, pitch it to us. Here’s an example of weirdness working for us with a loving ode to video game health bars.
Wait, what does that even mean? Broadly speaking, these are pieces that go deep into questions that need answers, trends in the industry, the history of something strange, and other topics that would thrill our readers. For example, we dove into the history of the Ouija board and its surprisingly pure beginnings. While it is rare to put a reported feature into the hands of a freelancer whom we haven’t worked with previously, it is not impossible. If you can demonstrate your capability to handle this type of post, from the research/sourcing process to writing it, we will consider giving it a shot.
We do not accept a ton of personal essays but that doesn’t mean we aren’t open to them! Personal essays that have a broader theme or message that others can connect with while also tying into something genre-specific is what works best for us. This heartfelt post about how The Legend of Zelda helped a writer process her grief and honor her brother’s memory is a great example. The ideas around grief, healing, and honoring someone’s memory speaks to all of us because those things are universal.
Of course, there are pitches that fall outside of these categories. But hopefully you now have a better idea of the types of posts and pitches that we want to see in our submission form.
Interviews and press event representatives: Generally speaking, our interviews and any press event coverage is handled by staff or freelancers/contractors with whom we have an established relationship.
Weekly coverage of TV shows/columns/etc.: There are few shows that we do weekly coverage for and, if we do, those are covered by staffers with freelancers occasionally helping out. As of right now, we are not seeking any recurring columns or serial posts at Nerdist.
Product reviews: We rarely review products and/or services, so please refrain from pitching those items.
Pitches with broad superlatives: Anything along the lines of “this is why XYZ is the best film of all-time,” “why (insert TV show here) is underrated,” “X person is better than Y person,” or “you should be watching TKTK” probably will not work for us. We want you to get into the nuts and bolts of things. For example, is there an element of XYZ film that continues to stand the test of time or perhaps represents rising trends in pop culture? If so, that is the type of piece we’d love to have at Nerdist!
New to pitching? That is totally okay! While we love to see published clips, you can be a new writer and still have a shot with us. A blog post also suffices as a great example of your writing ability. But, one of the first indicators that you can handle an assignment for us is your pitch. Sometimes, we get a lot of them. And sometimes they are not great. Your pitch is your introduction and ticket towards a green light, so do it well. Here are our four Cs of pitching:
A great pitch needs to be clear. If you have a specific stance or opinion, stand firm in it! You are not asking the questions but rather providing answers. You are not straddling the fence. Your viewpoint on a topic is rock solid. A Nerdist editor should know exactly what idea/angle you are pitching and how you plan to organize your post. We’d love to see a tentative title and at least three discussion bullet points, if applicable.
A Pitch Example:
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’s Dangerous Depiction of Therapy (& The Issue Of Villanizing Trauma)
In The Falcon And The Winter Soldier (TFATWS), fans finally get to see Bucky Barnes ostensibly trying to heal from his traumas. But the narrative seems more eager to hold him accountable for his past pain than to absolve him of it. This is especially true of his therapy, which is presented as many things: a punishment, a mandate, and a joke, but not as a safe place to heal.
The issue of whether Bucky is a villain or a victim has been an oddly contentious one in the MCU, often wrapped up in stereotypes of masculinity. Certain moments and films take the, incontestably correct, side of his victimization at the hands of Hydra, while others seem determined to give him agency in his past actions and thus to punish him for them. In TFATWS, a piece where Bucky is meant to be at center, this kind of victim-blaming is egregious and more damaging than ever.
This one is pretty self-explanatory and goes in hand with clarity. If it takes you several paragraphs to explain your idea, then it likely isn’t as clear as it should be. A great pitch should have a projected headline and get to the crux of your idea with that “hook” that will capture readers attention quickly. The above pitch is also concise, getting to the crux of the point very quickly.
A compelling pitch is one that stands out from the crowd. It’s a wholly unique perspective or take on something that hasn’t been the subject of a thousand think pieces. It resonates across a wide spectrum of readers for a variety of reasons from expanding their understanding to speaking to them on a nuclear level. It is in the vein of a brilliant exploration of a character, a story arc, or a beloved series that makes you say “wow, I wish I wrote that.” An idea that treads new ground and encourages thoughtful response is a win.
A Pitch Example:
Title: The History of the Ouija Board Is Both Pure and Evil
The Ouija board is a divisive game that conjures up curiosity, fear, and (for some excitement). Its depictions in pop culture, specifically horror, span decades and position it as a channel for evil supernatural happenings. However, the Ouija board’s history spans back to times of great war and loss with beginnings that are much purer than what we associate it with today. In an approximately 1500 word researched post, I would like to explore that relatively unknown history, from the rise of “talking boards” to The Exorcist’s impact on Ouija boards to its use in modern times.
Pitching an idea is one thing… executing it is the real challenge. Show us that you are more than capable of bringing your pitch to fruition by noting your authority on a topic/subject, linking to previously published posts within the same vein, or listing your connections and resources to secure screeners or subject matter experts. If you have research or interview experience, we want to see it. Two to three story links are preferable; however, if you are new to the writing game, don’t let that deter you from pitching! If you have blog posts or entries on a personal website, that will suffice.
At Nerdist, we strive for every single post we publish from news stories to researched features to adhere to our standards as entertainment journalists. These values are what guides our editors and staff writers every day and, as a freelancer, we expect for your work to uphold and honor our principles. While there is no “I” in team, there is one in Nerdist and four that outline our editorial standards.
Every story on Nerdist should be fully researched and fact checked. Our readers come to us for our expert-level knowledge, whether it is in-depth knowledge of Game of Thrones lore or a nerdy gift giving guide. Providing proper context and citations in your pose ensures that the reader will come away from it with newfound knowledge or a different perspective.
We aim to create honest, thought-provoking discourse that is critical without being cruel, specific without being pedantic, and most importantly fun. Balancing these lines while maintaining fervent passion for pop culture is a tightrope that we want to achieve with every single post on our website.
We strive to be thoughtful in all of our content; however, we know that there are a ton of funny and goofy things in our favorite universes. It is totally okay to be a bit silly sometimes, as long as it comes from the right place and doesn’t veer into being dismissive or downright offensive.
There are no gates to being a geek, nerd, or whatever our readers call their wonderful selves. At Nerdist, there is room for fans from all backgrounds and experiences. We aim to provide space and shine a light on creatives, characters, and fans from marginalized communities. This is a welcoming place for everyone to discuss, analyze, thoughtfully challenge, and fan out over the things we love.
Now, let’s go through the whole process of what happens after you get the greenlight. First, an editor will reach out to you via email with the entire editorial team copied. Don’t be alarmed to see all of those names! Having all the editors on the email ensures that there are multiple people to answer any questions you have along the way and to keep the process running smoothly. The editor will offer some parameters, including word count, due date, payment, and possibly some initial guidelines for your post. If you choose to accept the terms, then we will send over all necessary paperwork and instructions on how to complete it. Yes, paperwork is no fun but alas we must have documents to be able to pay you.
Now, it is time for you to write that wonderful first draft with our media values in mind. Don’t worry about formatting it to fit our website, that’s what editors do. If you have any video links, photos, a byline and/or social media links, or other assets you want to include, feel free to submit those in with your draft. We’d prefer to get your draft in a Google doc so we can add comments and ask questions within the document as necessary. If you get notes back with a second completion date, it is completely normal and okay. It doesn’t mean you are a terrible writer or that we won’t work with you again. It is simply a part of the editing process to make sure your message comes across as clearly as possible.
Once the draft is done, an editor will go in and edit/format the piece to our style guide standards. Depending on the post’s urgency and our overall workload, this can take a couple of days to a week. When the post is live, we will send you a link with your name attributed as the author. Feel free to share it on your social pages! And, if there are any final amendments you wish to see, please reach out to the editorial team and we will be happy to make adjustments. Finally, an editor will send you a reminder email to submit your timecard. From this point forward, feel free to email the team with any pitches you have directly! The process will work the same way excluding the need for more paperwork.
LDN (and any of its parent companies, affiliates or subsidiaries) do not accept unsolicited submissions. Editorial Submissions are only accepted by LDN, not any of its parent companies, affiliates or subsidiaries, through this portal, for this limited circumstance and for a limited time.
Editorial Submissions remain the intellectual property of the individual user making the submission. Any such Editorial Submissions are deemed non-confidential and Legendary Digital Networks, LLC (“LDN”) nor any of its parent companies, subsidiaries or affiliates are under any obligation to maintain the confidentiality of any information, in whatever form, contained in any Editorial Submission.
You represent and warrant that: (i) all Editorial Submissions submitted by you will be your own work and/or you will have all rights necessary to submit the Editorial Submission, (ii) you have identified all such co-authors and collaborators that are part of your Editorial Submission; (iii) your Editorial Submission and all elements thereof are owned or controlled solely and exclusively by you, or you have prior written permission from the rightful owner of the content included in your Editorial Submissions and, (iv) your Editorial Submission does not violate any law, regulation or right of any kind whatsoever, or otherwise give rise to any actionable claim or liability, including without limitation rights of publicity and privacy, and defamation.
LDN will not use the Editorial Submission without your consent. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary herein, LDN (or any of its parent companies, subsidiaries, or affiliates) will have no obligation to use, distribute or exploit a Editorial Submission and you are in no way entitled to any compensation upon sending a Editorial Submission. Furthermore, you understand and acknowledge that LDN (and its parent, subsidiaries and affiliates) are actively engaged in the entertainment industry and regularly and frequently create content based on pop-culture, current events, news topics, fandom, characters, books, comics etc. and LDN (or its parent companies, subsidiaries, or affiliates) may independently create or produce content that is similar to your Editorial Submission by coincidence. You therefore hereby waive and release LDN (and its parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates and their respective employees, officers, directors, shareholders, agents and subcontractors) from any claim or cause of action related to, or arising out of your Editorial Submission or any element thereof.
We are hoping this pitch guide answers all of your questions. But, if you still need to reach out to us for a specific inquiry, please send an email over to [email protected]. Please DO NOT simply send pitches to this email. If you do, we will delete them and your very existence into the void.