I’m an editor at a science magazine, and I read a lot of pitches. I get pitches that are long, and pitches that are short. I get pitches that don’t have nearly enough info, and pitches that have way too much info. I get pitches from veteran science writers, pitches from newbie (or wannabe) science writers, and pitches from total randos. What’s the right amount of information? To figure it out, I sat down and wrote a pitch, to me, from me, based on one of my favorite stories I’ve written. Here’s what I came up with.
You’re a graduate student. You’ve decided you don’t want to stay in academic research, and instead have your eye on a career in something like science writing, policy, or outreach. You want to build your resume and/or portfolio with experiences in said new field, but that takes time away from your research that you’re desperately trying to finish so you can graduate. What to do?
My inbox (as editor at a popular science magazine) is full of pitches, and I say no to the vast majority. Here’s why, if anyone was wondering, ranked from the least to most common reasons:
Before I was a card-carrying member of “the media,” I had no idea how journalists found their stories. This was perhaps especially confusing to me as a scientist, in particular when I’d see news articles that said things like “in a study published today…” and wonder how a writer could’ve written a story that fast.
Hello, science lovers! It was embarrassingly recent that I realized that I had been conflating science communication (#SciComm) and science journalism in my mind, and that’s it’s quite helpful to know the difference. If you’re here, you must think it will be helpful, too! Welcome!
Well, hello there! I see you’ve come seeking answers to a question, like the many before you who have heard the tale of the absolutely miserable graduate student who somehow weaseled her way into an assistant editor position at a national science magazine within 6 months of her defense. How did she do it?
Well, I have bad news for you: She got really, really lucky.
Musings on writing and science, from a scientist turned writer. No affiliation the writer's current employer.