Discover magazine is a popular science magazine made available to the general public in doctor’s offices, schools and libraries. It has a large home-subscriber base as well. The subject matter covers exciting breakthroughs and research in medicine, technology and science, written in language an educated layman can comprehend. The magazine's breadth of science topics also includes paleontology, space travel and physics along with many other science-related topics. According to the editors' written instructions, if you have a science-related story you wish to write for Discover magazine, you must first send them a query or pitch. Here are the steps to take.
Research the magazine. Before you send off a query to the editor of Discover magazine, it is important to study its style and format to make sure your work is suitable. Read the published articles on subjects that relate to your story concept and search the archives to make sure your idea is original. DISCOVER magazine has an online presence you can study, or you can get the latest copy at a bookstore such as Barnes & Noble. Familiarize yourself with the backgrounds of their contributing writers to understand the kind of expertise the magazine editors seek. Many of the writers have been writing for the magazine for years.
Adhere to the submission policy. According to the Discover magazine editorial team, they are currently accepting queries or “pitches." Discover magazine has not been listed in Writer’s Market in recent years, nor is the information about sending queries or submitting articles posted on the web. The magazine is published by Discover Media, LLC and is based in New York, New York. It has gone through several ownerships over the years. This prestigious magazine has little need to actively recruit freelance writers. So abide strictly with their policy printed here for pitching a story.
Prepare your pitch. Discover magazine has a stable of highly qualified contributing writers, and the only way a new writer has a chance to get the attention of its editors is to have an explosive, compelling untold science story to tell. Discover magazine accepts “focused, well researched pitches for the Data section and the 20 Things Column, as well as some features ideas.” Stories in the Data section run from 150 to 500 words. The 20 Things Column “requires a great deal of preliminary research anchored in verifiable sources, and a willingness to engage in lateral thinking,” according to the magazine's guidelines. The writer must be prepared to submit 25 to 30 items, totaling 650 words, for this column .
Study how to write and send a query. The magazine does not want manuscripts sent without a query first. To write a professional query letter is essential as you will be judged by your query letter much like a job seeker is judged by his or her cover letter. You have to sell your idea for readership appeal. There are books in the library that teach how to write query letters. Writer's Market provides valuable tools for the writer and can be accessed online. The 2003 issue advises that "a query should tell an editor how you plan to handle and develop the proposed article."
Send your query or pitch to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Email is preferred. The pitch you make must include samples of previous work, "a few strong clips,” suggests the magazine. The pitch is sent to the appropriate editor, who may or may not respond to your story idea, as the volume of mail they receive is very high.
Be realistic.Getting published in Discover magazine is an achievement for a freelance writer. The publisher has a staff of regular writers and only hires freelance writers or contributing writers with excellent credentials, education and advanced writing skills. If you compete for these writing jobs, you are expected to have knowledge and, better yet, experience in the field.
Make more than one submission. If you think you have the proper credentials and a writing track record, keep trying Discover magazine. Don’t get discouraged if you do not meet with success the first try. Keep sending queries, but do build up your resume by publishing your articles in other reputable magazines. Getting published in a national magazine takes persistence and sometimes a lot of luck. Your idea may not be a fit the first time around. But another time, your story idea may please an editor looking for something different.
The magazine is not accepting pitches for the following columns or departments: Better Planet, The Brain, ThinkTech, Mind Games and Field Notes.
Discover magazine does not accept manuscripts sent without a query first. If you send a manuscript you may not get a reply or, if your submission is rejected, it will not be returned.