Illumination over argument, human perspective over rhetorical analysis, and uncomfortable questions over easy answers: These are the qualities we seek in stories for Limbo, a lifestyle magazine we describe as a guide for those who wander.
Our startup editorial team seeks fresh, challenging or previously unpublished authors to bring a contemporary voice and narrative journalism to an urban, globally aware and culturally savvy audience of wanderers, creators, backpackers, tastemakers, builders and dreamers. Since launching online in late 2015, we are emerging as a thoughtful platform for substantive storytelling, and we aim to fill a gap in lifestyle media between listicle-dominated (i.e., click baity) digital publishers and hipster-ific (i.e., #liveauthentic @socalitybarbie) fashion rags. We seek contributors that these kinds of publishers steer clear of — because these authors pose difficult questions, challenge conventional definitions of beauty and make us think about where we fit in this complex world.
Each one of our stories explores issues of belongingness and contemporary culture in four key sections: journey (both psychological and physical), style (individual expression rather than industry trends), craft (the stories behind the things we consume — and those who make them), and taste (palate-expanding experiences with food and drink). We plan editorial themes on a quarterly basis, but our editors will consider any story on its own merits.
We are also very interested in photo essays, illustrated or graphic stories, film and other visual mediums. Please submit your stories to the email address below.
What You Should Pitch:
- Untold stories that examine issues of belongingness and contemporary culture from a personal perspective. The author should pinpoint a core conflict that hints at larger themes of human experience. Zoom in. Focus. Enlighten.
- Unpublished essays written with a unique and identifiable voice.
- Travel memoirs that focus on character, scene and action rather than flowery and poetic descriptions of place.
- Contributors that bring underrepresented experiences to the forefront of the conversation. White straight dudes can tell great stories. And we want to hear theirs, too. But we are particularly interested in emerging minority voices. We want to counter the danger of a single story.
- A new perspective: Yes, something has been written about almost anything, but we’re interested in a different take (one that makes us think) on what the media has already said about someplace, someone and something.
- Long-form narratives that explore a contemporary sociopolitical topic through the personal journey of a compelling individual. For example, we would not be interested in a generic story about LGBT homelessness in America. We would, on the other hand, be interested in a narrative report that chronicles the difficulty of a specific queer homeless individual, raising questions about a political issue through this intimate perspective.
- Local stories with global implications: We are interested in stories that have a strong link to a particular place, but whose central conflict resonates on a global level (as most extraordinary stories seem to).
What You Should Not Pitch:
- Academic essays or rhetorical think pieces: Yes, we are interested in stories that engage with big, universal themes. But you should do so through characterization and narrative. For example, we would not be interested in an essay critiquing a school of Scandinavian filmmakers. We would, on the other hand, be interested in an essay that explores the life of a little-known Swedish director and how a previously unknown personal struggle inspired an underrated film of larger cultural significance.
- Three perfect days in [some random city]: Yes, we are wanderers, backpackers and world-travelers. But we have a dozen dog-eared guidebooks on our bookshelves about any particular destination. Tell us something we don’t know. Write less about place and more about a character's experience. We avoid travel writing that’s riddled with “quaint,” “stunning,” “don’t-miss” and other clichés. Instead, we seek personality. We want to be surprised. We want to learn something. We want you to make us question where we’re at right now.
- Generic essays on your Peace Corp, guided tour, organized race or backpacking experience — unless you are able to find a unexpected or surprising angle in a way that challenges us to think beyond your trip itself.
- Confessional stories and personal essays without newfound self-awareness: Your breakup, abortion, cancer diagnosis, coming out, and so on certainly shaped your life. But these are not stories unto themselves — unless you can find a extraordinary angle or perceptive self-awareness through the process. If pitching a story involving any of the above, be clear to emphasize what makes your story unlike every other essay already published on the topic. (Hint: The answer to this concern typically means telling a really great story rather than focusing on a generic topic.)
- Profiles of major celebrities or public figures: Unless you have exclusive access to this person, it’s unlikely that you’ll shed any new light on their life. But don’t hesitate to pitch essays on your relationship with popular culture; the celebrity in question should encourage you to question your own life or relationships rather than you mediating on some random public figure's biography.
- Generic generational essays: Let’s be clear. Don’t try to be the voice of your generation. We have enough of those kinds of writers in the world. Instead, hint at generational themes from a personal perspective, one that's truly your own. That’s where we find the power in the writer’s work.
- Essays about travel, styles, things or foods without deeper insight: The best food writing is rarely just about food; the best style writing is rarely about just style; and so on. Tell us a compelling story, don't wax poetically (and generically!) about a broad topic.
- Fiction or poetry — no matter how good it is, we are focused on nonfiction.
How to Submit Stories and Ideas:
We will happily consider both pitches for stories as well as first drafts. Send your ideas and previously unpublished drafts (as a Word .doc, please) to: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are pitching ideas, focus on distilling your pitch to a few key sentences, and feel free to send up to three ideas at a time. For completed drafts, please provide a brief summary about your story so we know what we’re reading.
Please note that our editorial team currently does all manner of (mostly legal) things to pay our rent; and while we can’t (yet!) pay cash for contributions, we believe that great stories need to be told, and we want to help tell yours. If you’re in Portland, Oregon, we’ll invite you over to sit on our couch and sip some instant miso and sake — that’s on us, of course.