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.

Thursday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Guitar Kits, Memory-Foam Pillows, and Smartwatches

Amazon
Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 3. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

The Meanings Behind 25 Common Acronyms and Initialisms

Remember POGs?
Remember POGs?
Rick Beauregard, Shutterstock

Before POGs became collectible items printed with our favorite ’90s pop culture characters, they were just simple discs found inside bottle caps. In fact, that’s how they got their name—POG is an acronym for Passion Fruit, Orange, Guava, the name of a Maui-based beverage whose lids gave rise to the game.

On this episode of The List Show, Mental Floss host Justin Dodd is sharing the origin stories behind 25 popular acronyms and initialisms, many of which you may not have realized actually stood for anything at all. Geico, for example, isn’t a word that insurance providers made up to match their spokes-gecko; it’s an acronym for Government Employees Insurance Co., made up to match the company’s original target demographic (government employees). And since LED stands for light-emitting diode, the phrase LED light is rather redundant.

Press play below to uncover the secrets behind other popular abbreviations, from Alien Life Form (ALF) to Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle (Yahoo!).

For more fascinating videos, subscribe to the Mental Floss YouTube channel here.