Gothamist‘s venture into long-form

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Joining other digital-only publications and projects, such as Byliner and The Atavist, that are hoping for a rebirth of long-form journalism online, Gothamist, a NYC news site, has announced it will pay a freelancer $5,000 to write a 5,000- to 15,000-word feature. A post on FishbowlNY pointed us to Gothamist‘s call for journalists who can appeal to their  audience of over one million 20-36 year-old readers in New York” with a piece that’s “timely but with a shelf-life longer than a week.”

Gothamist will handle the editing and production of the story, and, like sites mentioned above, they will promote the it on their site and sell it through eBook platforms (Kindle Singles, Apple’s iBookstore) for $1 to $3. If the story sells big, and Gothamist makes its money back, it says it will share the profits with the writer.

Will the site’s gamble pay off? It’s still too soon to know if there’s a huge longing for long-form amongst readers (who are also willing to pay for it), but we’re certainly eager to see how Gothamist‘s venture works out — and we applaud them for giving it a try and paying writers while they’re at it.

Posted on June 24, 2011 at 10:12 am by editor · · Tagged with: , , , , , ,

5 Responses

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  1. Written by flipper
    on June 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    So as the amount of work required on a story increases, the pay rate goes down??? Lord, what is wrong with this industry?

    • Written by editor
      on June 27, 2011 at 9:37 am
      Reply · Permalink

      You’re right. At the upper word count of 15,000, that feature would pay $0.33 a word, which is abysmal. I’d really like to hear from freelancers out there who’ve done long-form pieces about whether this is typical. When you get into the 10,000+ word range, do rates/word go down?

  2. Written by writer/editor
    on June 27, 2011 at 8:00 pm
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    It’s the writer’s choice to make the story shorter or longer. Sometimes it’s easier to write long rather than edit it down. So, if the writer is super-sticky about getting a buck a word, then he/she can edit a 15,000-word piece down to 5,000 words. But if that’s the case, the writer will probably get a higher hourly rate by leaving the piece longer.

    • Written by editor
      on June 28, 2011 at 8:27 am
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      Good point. In that case, spending the extra time editing the piece down just to get paid a better rate, as a matter of principle, doesn’t make sense. But others might be careful to keep the piece at 5,000 words to begin with (which is a skill in itself).

  3. Written by writer/editor
    on June 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Exactly 🙂

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