Last Updated on Dec 13, 2010 / Posted by Administrator
We prefer to work from e-mailed queries whenever possible, and you should send an e-mail outlining your article before submitting a manuscript. A query can save you the frustration and disappointment of making a futile submission, and it allows us to fine-tune an idea to suit our editorial needs. We read and respond to all queries, but expect at least a six-week wait for that response. Be patient, please. But squeak gently if you don’t hear from us within six to eight weeks.
Send all queries, correspondence, and submissions to:
Steve Walburn, editor
735 Broad St.
Augusta, GA 30904
A complete article submission must include a cover letter, manuscript (hard copy and electronic version), a selection of color slides or electronic images, complete caption information, rough illustrations (if necessary), and sample flies (if necessary). We work in Microsoft Word, but we’re able to convert a number of other programs. Also, save your file in plain text or Rich Text Format if you can; if all else fails, we can use the text file and reformat it from your hard copy. Please include with your article a thumbnail autobiography that highlights your fishing credentials (how long you’ve been doing it, where, etc.). Make sure that your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address are on all materials submitted (queries, cover letters, and first manuscript pages). Payment can not be made until we have your Social Security number. Submissions must be accompanied by sufficient return postage. Unless you specify otherwise (and provide the required forms), we return all materials via First Class Mail.
We reserve the right to edit all manuscripts. Photos provided with an article will be used at the editor’s discretion, and will be returned when production is complete.
American Angler is not responsible for unsolicited submissions or for the safety of submissions not in our possession. Safe care of submissions in transit to and from American Angler is the responsibility of the carrier.
We buy modified North American serial print, electronic, and in-house marketing rights to articles and photos, and payment is made just prior to publication. We don’t pay by the word, and length is only one of the variables considered. The quality and completeness of a submission may be more important than its length in determining rates, and articles that include good photography are usually worth more. As a guideline, the following rates generally apply: Feature articles pay $450 (and perhaps a bit more if we’re impressed), while short features pay $200 to $400. Generally, these rates assume that useful photos, drawings, or sketches accompany the words.
A. Guidelines for Submitting Queries
Before you write an article, please submit complete queries via e-mail (if possible). They needn’t be long, but they should tell the editor what he needs to decide to give you a go-ahead:
Besides briefly outlining the subject, explain how you will treat the material. As a straightforward how-to? As a third-person piece of journalistic reporting? (The first is preferred.)
VERY IMPORTANT: Plan and write your query as carefully as you plan to write the article you are pitching. We can only judge your ability by the organization of and the writing in the query. Don’t assume that we will believe you can write better than you’ve done in your query.
B. How-To Stories
Here’s the basic philosophy behind every how-to article we publish: The reader wants to be told EXACTLY what to do and how to do it. Therefore, we want to cover a specific subject so completely that the reader can finish an article, put the magazine down, pick up his fly rod, and immediately use the techniques described. To accomplish this, you cannot leave any questions unanswered or offer the reader too many options.
Many writers want to focus on the Big Picture: stillwater, nymphing, terrestrials, etc. We’d rather you focus on a very specific topic and cover it completely. Here’s an example: instead of writing an article on “How to Fish A Streamer,” which is a broad, amorphous topic, think much more specifically—“How to Fish a Streamer Under a Log,” “How to Fish a Streamer Through Weeds,” or “How to Fish a Streamer Around a Midstream Boulder.” This allows you to really explore the minute, nitty-gritty processes of the sport. This is more difficult to do than rehashing the same old clichés of casting down-and-across and taking fish on the swing, but the results are more useful.
Too many writers of how-to articles try to dress them up by backing into their material with an anecdotal yarn. Fame, if not fortune, awaits writers who learn how to write how-to and other “technical” articles without resorting to this tired parlor trick. You can plunge right into your subject and plow straight ahead if you choose your words carefully, write each sentence as if it’s a little drama in which the subject actually does something to the subject (instead of relying on the verb “to be”), paint pictures with active verbs and vivid, concrete nouns (instead of weaving threadbare tapestries of passive verbs, concept nouns, adverbs, and adjectives), and always keep in mind what your reader needs to know. Don’t tell him what he might do; tell him what he should do.
C. Where-To Stories
We run more how-to articles than where-to (or destination) pieces. An article on casting or reading water might serve a lot of our readers. A where-to article, however, will probably be used by some single-digit percentage of readers.
For the most part, our where-to coverage sticks to domestic places. Again, it’s a question of numbers. An article about a pack-in trip to a remote stream in Tibet might prove briefly interesting to a fair number of readers, but it would prove useful to very few. A piece about several good trout streams in Wisconsin, on the other hand, would serve thousands of American Angler’s readers. That doesn’t mean we’ll never consider a piece about fishing in a place outside North America. But such an article would have to be exceptional in every way. We do not provide assignment letters to help writers sew up offers of gratis trips.
A where-to article should focus on the fishing. We want information. The best where-to stories do the job economically. Tell about the fishing and what one needs to bring or do to enjoy it: What are we fishing for? What can we expect to catch? What’s the water like? Which time of year is best, and is it worth going at other times? Can we expect heavy and varied hatches, or should we look forward to fishing only midges or caddisflies? Is the place easy to get to, or does reaching it entail a strenuous or expensive trip? Any special regulations? Which flies should we bring? Are there fly shops in the area? Guides? Outfitters? What about accommodations? Anything for non-fishing members of the family to do in the area? And so on. Try to make it possible for a reader to head for the North Fork of the West Branch of the Little Hogwallow River with everything he needs (including knowledge) to catch heaps of fish and have loads of fun.
Every destination article must be accompanied by five things:
We like place-oriented stories because we want to expose our readers to as many of fly fishing’s possibilities and as much of its variety as we can. But we want to give them more value than straight where-to information. Set your story in a place, give the readers something they can use in their own fishing, no matter where they fish. It can be a tackle tip, a fly-fishing technique, or presentation advice.
Every feature article should be accompanied by at least one sidebar. Sidebars can be informative or entertaining, long or short, utilitarian or witty, dry or colorful. Articles accompanied by sidebars have an edge over those that don’t.
Here are just a few of the things you might want to put in sidebars:
What if we don’t use your sidebars in the magazine? If a good sidebar simply gets crowded out, we will put it on our Web site.