So I don't know if this counts, but cracked.com just accepted my article, which marks my first publication. I wish it was fiction, but I'll take it anyway.
Cracked is a humor website, although they had a long-running magazine (started in 1958 and went to 2007). They pay 50 bucks for your articles up to the first five. After that, the pay jumps to 150 dollars, which is pretty good for freelance journalism.
My article will be called "6 "Facts" About the Human Brain that are Complete Bull****". It should be up in a few weeks. I'll update here when it goes live.
If any of you have experience with humor and don't mind exploring journalism, this is a pretty good website to publish through. Every article gets about 200-300 thousand views the first day, and they almost always break 1 million within the first two weeks. Very good exposure.
By the way, the name I'm publishing under will be J. N. Chaney, so just look for that.
Fantastic! I've been looking at their submission guidelines lately, as they even pay for good ideas, too, right?
Can you comment a bit on your submission process? Was this your first submission to them? How did you go about writing up your idea? (I seem to recall they take rough pitches versus actual completed articles...) Or did you write the whole thing? How did you come up with your idea?
For starters, make an account and post in the topic for new writers. They have to physically admit you to the hidden room, which takes about a week. Once you're in, you can post your pitch.
Basically, they want "list" ideas, which if you frequent the site you'll recognize. But the pitches need to be fact-based, so in most cases you'll need sources, and the idea has to be interesting enough to make people go "huh", when they read them, and also written sarcastically.
So mine was "6 "Facts About the Brain that are Total Bull****", right? Well, the first 6 that I came up with didn't all work because some of them had already been brought up in other articles individually, so I had to go find more. By the time the process was over, I had gone through about 14 different points, of which I was only able to use 6 because the other 8 had all been used, despite the fact that an idea like mine hadn't been done yet.
So you need to come up with 1) an original idea and 2) make sure all your points haven't been brought up before.
Also, you'll probably go through several rejections. I think I had like 5 rejections before they took this one. It was annoying, but you just have to hold in there and keep trying. Eventually you'll find an idea that works for them.
Finally, make sure you post your sources with each entry in the pitch so that they know you have your crap together and that you aren't just making things up. It's a long process, but no longer than publishing a short story. Actually, it might take less time than that...
Do they buy all rights or is the article yours after they publish? (I hate to rain on the parade...but, back in my prime, one of the complaints about [some of] the humor magazines was that they bought all rights.)
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That's really interesting about the process. I'd be damn happy to write along Seanbaby; the guy makes me laugh harder than anything with his MMA lists. Congratulations.
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Here's the article, everyone. Let me know what you think. It's about 750k views so far and rising. The downside to writing these kinds of things is that the comments section fills up fairly quickly with how much people disagree with you (even though you provide multiple sources).
I remember while doing my MS in Neuroscience that we were taught the whole thing about the brain never regenerating brain cells, though at the time I believe that theory was already being disproven.
A leading theory as to why they brain is wrinkly that you touched upon is to create greater surface area. Shock absorption might be part of it, but I tend to believe the surface area theory more, especially since such a large part of higher function of the brain is located on the cortex. We 'learn', I believe, through the strengthening of and formation of new connections between neurons, and you are right, certainly not from 'more wrinkly' brains.
I'd respectfully both agree and disagree about the brain size issue. I agree there is no linear relationship between brain size and intelligence. However, if you think about brain size in terms of ratio to its responsibilities, there might be some truth to the importance of size.
A whale has a big brain, yes, but it needs to have a big brain because it has a big body. A large portion of the whale brain is devoted to basic body functions.
Humans, on the other hand, have pretty big brains in comparison to the size of our bodies. If you look at how the brain is structured and compare ours to reptiles, birds, and 'lower' mammals, you'll see that reptiles have little more than what is analogous to our brain stems, and that as you move up the evolutionary chain, new structures are added to the brain, making it larger, until you get the frontal cortex of humans that is responsible for processing of our most complex thoughts.
[This message has been edited by Osiris (edited August 31, 2011).]
Very interesting...I was kinda expecting some kind of nonsensical thing, like The Onion or, well, Cracked magazine, but that's well-researched and well-thought out---and don't forget "well-written," too.
The "holes-in-the-brain" scan misinterpretation reminded me of the time someone read my brother's chest X-ray and said he had tuberculosis---the idiot didn't recognize blood vessels. My mother, a nurse, spotted it right off...
Osiris, I knew about the proportional brain-size thing, and I even included it in the original article, but Cracked decided to cut a lot of my material before publishing it. It's pretty upsetting, because a lot of the complaints I keep hearing were actually addressed in the original article. Ah well.
On a positive note, the article has reached roughly 850 thousand views so far, which is remarkable. I suppose I'm willing to accept the fact that they revise the hell out of your work as long as I'm getting the exposure.
Incidentially, my blog has skyrocketed in views (jnchaney.wordpress.com). Woot!