How to Pitch a Story to Mental Floss

Pheelings Media/iStock via Getty Images
Pheelings Media/iStock via Getty Images

So, you’d like to write for Mental Floss? That’s wonderful to hear. We’re always looking for new voices to write about the diverse verticals we cover, whether that's history, science, entertainment, language, pop culture, art, or beyond. In order to craft the best pitch possible, please take a few minutes to review the information and pointers below.

Pitching Tips

  • Be sure to spend some time reading MentalFloss.com before pitching to familiarize yourself with our content, tone, and scope—and to make sure that we haven’t already covered the story you’re planning to pitch.
  • Pitch only one editor. If your pitch is not within the scope of subject areas that particular editor covers, it will be forwarded on to the correct person.
  • Keep your pitch short—one or two paragraphs max—and if you have a particular expertise on this subject, tell us that. What makes you the best person to write this story?
  • Be sure to include a link to your portfolio or a couple samples of your work (please do not send attachments; they will not be opened).
  • Take the time to brainstorm a possible headline for your story, and include that as part of the subject line, i.e. Freelance Pitch: 50 Amazing Facts About Animals. Having a headline can help us better understand the angle you plan to use with your story.
  • If your piece requires interviews with any experts, let us know if you have specific people in mind.
  • Unless a story has officially been assigned to you by an editor, you cannot use Mental Floss’s name in order to obtain access to events, interview subjects, etc.
  • Do not pitch or send completed articles.
  • Expect a response to your pitch within two weeks. If you do not receive a response after two weeks, you can assume it’s a pass. Due to the number of pitches we receive each day, we are unfortunately not able to respond to every pitch we receive.
  • If your story is timely, include the word “timely” in your subject line (though note that news stories are generally written by our staff writers).

Pitches We Can Use

Lists

Lists are an overview of a topic in digestible-nugget form. Each list will cover the who, what, when, and where of the subject, plus its significance, and pay particular attention to quirky or little-known facts about the subject. Pitches may focus on the below topics:

  • Subjects that have a major anniversary coming up
  • Historical figures and events
  • Movies and TV series
  • Music
  • Literature and art
  • Language
  • Food and drink
  • Helpful tips and life hacks
  • Scientific discoveries, phenomena, and figures
  • Pop culture fads, events, and personalities

Features

Features are reported stories that delve into a topic from a particular angle and with strong characters and storytelling. Features can be short (500 words) or longer (800-1500 words). Areas ripe for features include:

  • Historical events that put current events into perspective
  • Exploring and/or answering a big question
  • Science stories that explain a new field of research or highlight a scientist’s ongoing work
  • A deep dive into a pop culture event or phenomenon in history
  • True crime and unsolved mysteries
  • Features about odd, unique, or little-known historical events and people

Pitches We Can’t Use

  • Short, timely news stories: these pieces are covered by our staff writers
  • Science articles based on a single study: these are also covered by staff writers
  • First-person articles or personal essays
  • Fiction, memoir, or poetry
  • Current politics or political opinion
  • Stories based solely on PR pitches

What to Include in Your Pitch

For Lists:

  • A possible headline
  • A short description of your subject and why you want to write about it
  • Four to five examples of the items you will include (simply listing the items is sufficient, unless some background info is needed)
  • A brief bio and two or three links to relevant clips

For Features:

  • A possible headline
  • One to two paragraphs explaining the topic, angle, and story arc, and addressing three questions: Why should Mental Floss publish the story? Why are you the best writer for it? Why should the story be told now?
  • Potential sources you will consult or interview
  • A brief bio and two or three links to relevant clips

Editorial Contacts

Language, Literature, Food, True Crime: Erin McCarthy

Entertainment (Movies, TV, Music), Pop Culture: Jennifer M. Wood

Science, Archaeology, Environment, DIY: Kat Long

Travel, History, Retrobituaries: Kerry Wolfe

Products, Product Reviews, Job Secrets: Jason Serafino

All Other Pitches: General

If you're a publicist looking to share a press release or pitching a client, please email contact@mentalfloss.com.

Payment

  • Lists begin at $150 and increase depending on length.
  • Short features (500 words) begin at $125 while longer features start at $200; rates increase based on length of story, amount of reporting and research, etc.
  • Fees will be discussed and agreed upon before work on any story commences.
  • When a story is assigned, writers who have not previously worked with Mental Floss are asked to sign our standard writer’s agreement.
  • Payments are made via direct deposit and invoiced at the end of the month in which the story is submitted, then paid within 15-20 days.

Get Into the Halloween Spirit With Harry Potter and Star Wars Costumes and Accessories From Hot Topic

Hot Topic
Hot Topic

Halloween is fast approaching, and that means it's time to start picking up those decorations, planning your costume, and settling down for a few monster movie marathons. Hot Topic is already way ahead of you, with a selection of costumes and accessories based on fan-favorite movies and TV shows like Harry Potter, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Stranger Things, and Hocus Pocus. We've picked out some of our favorites for you to check out below.

Harry Potter

1. Beauxbatons Hat and Cape Uniform; $60

Hot Topic

If Fleur Delacour is your favorite character from the Triwizard Tournament, then this look is for you. Beauxbatons baby blue hat and cape can now be yours to prance around in and pretend you're from the magical French academy for young witches.

Buy it: Beauxbatons Hat, Beauxbatons Cape

2. Hogwarts Zip-Up Hoodie Cloak; $55

Hot Topic

One of the most iconic parts of the Hogwarts uniform is the cloak. The sweeping black robes looked so official and mystical in the movies that it almost seems wrong not to wear one if you want to be a Hogwarts student for Halloween. These hoodie cloaks are available in all four house colors.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. Hogwarts Cardigan Sweater; $49

Hot Topic

Much like the cloak, the sweater vests and cardigans the students at Hogwarts got to wear are essential to any costume. You can choose from the four house crests and colors, so you can show your allegiance while also making a fashion statement.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Hogwarts Plaid Skirtall; $45

Hot Topic

Though this isn't a look you'd recognize from the Harry Potter movies, these plaid skirtalls—skirt overalls, basically—feature the crest and colors of whichever house you represent.

Buy it: Hot Topic

Star Wars

1. The Mandalorian Helmet; $17

Hot Topic

With the second season of The Mandalorian coming out right in time for Halloween, going as one of the show's main characters is a no-brainer. And since you probably can't pull off the Baby Yoda look, this simple Mando helmet is your best option.

Buy it: Hot Topic

2. Yoda Pet Costume; $20

Hot Topic

Baby Yoda is easily the cutest thing to emerge from the new Disney+ series, and there's no shortage of merchandise with that little green face plastered across it. From Amazon Echo Dots to slippers to LEGO sets, the little rascal is everywhere. But if you're more a fan of classic Yoda, you can impose your love of the character on your dog with this costume, complete with floppy green ears and tiny Jedi robe.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. The Force Awakens Rey Costume; $48

Hot Topic

Rey represents a new generation of Star Wars hero, and her costume during her time on Jakku from The Force Awakens is still her most iconic look. It's also a costume that's simple enough to throw on for Halloween and still feel comfortable in.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. R2-D2 with Pumpkin Decoration; $50

Hot Topic

When trick-or-treaters stop to collect candy from your house, greet them with this inflatable R2-D2 decoration that's primed for Halloween. Standing around 3 feet tall, this will show off your love for a galaxy far, far away and your holiday spirit.

Buy it: Hot Topic

The Nightmare Before Christmas

1. Sally Scrunchies Set; $10

Hot Topic

If you're looking to embrace your The Nightmare Before Christmas love in a more subtle way, opt for these Sally-approved scrunchies that embody the colors of the movie without going too far overboard.

Buy it: Hot Topic

2. Jack Skellington Button-Up Shirt; $35

Hot Topic

If Jack Skellington is your ultimate fashion hero, then this button-up pinstriped shirt is the ticket for you. It mimics Jack's look right down to the unique bat-shaped collar.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. Jack and Sally 'Love is Eternal' Eyeshadow Palette; $17

Hot Topic

Makeup inspired by your favorite characters is the key to completing a Halloween look, and this palette will help you make a colorful, smokey eye featuring shades seen in The Nightmare Before Christmas. You can even use these colors long after Halloween is over once you've mastered your favorite style.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Zero Dog Costume; $29

Hot Topic

The real star of The Nightmare Before Christmas has to be the dog, Zero, and now you can drape your own pooch in the ghostly visage for under $30.

Buy it: Hop Topic

Other Categories

- Stranger Things
- Coraline
- Disney
- Haunted Mansion
- Hocus Pocus
- The Craft

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Why Do Dogs Like to Bury Things?

Dogs like to dig.
Dogs like to dig.
Nickos/iStock via Getty Images

If you’ve ever found your dog’s favorite toy nestled between pillows or under a pile of loose dirt in the backyard, then you’ve probably come to understand that dogs like to bury things. Like many of their behaviors, digging is an instinct. But where does that impulse come from?

Cesar's Way explains that before dogs were domesticated and enjoyed bags of processed dog food set out in a bowl by their helpful human friends, they were responsible for feeding themselves. If they caught a meal, it was important to keep other dogs from running off with it. To help protect their food supply, it was necessary to bury it. Obscuring it under dirt helped keep other dogs off the scent.

This behavior persists even when a dog knows some kibble is on the menu. It may also manifest itself when a dog has more on its plate than it can enjoy at any one time. The ground is a good place to keep something for later.

But food isn’t the only reason a dog will start digging. If they’ve nabbed something of yours, like a television remote, they may be expressing a desire to play.

Some dog breeds are more prone to digging than others. Terriers, dachshunds, beagles, basset hounds, and miniature schnauzers go burrowing more often than others, though pretty much any dog will exhibit the behavior at times. While there’s nothing inherently harmful about it, you should always be sure a dog in your backyard isn’t being exposed to any lawn care products or other chemicals that could prove harmful. You should also probably keep your remote in a safe place, before the dog decides to relocate it for you.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.