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TRAPPER'S POST - Writer's Guidelines
Article Payment Information
Payment depends on length, photo support, the amount of time we have to spend editing, etc. We pay roughly 10¢ a finished (after final edit) word. For example, a short article of about 500 words might pay $50 where a feature length article of 1,500 or more words with good photo support could pay as much as $150, which is currently our top payment.
We buy First North American Rights, which means we have the right to print the article in Trapper’s Post before it appears in any other publication. We also buy electronic rights, which means we have the right to use your material in electronic form. However, you retain all rights, allowing you to use the material in other publications after it has appeared in ours. You own the article; it’s your property. If we want to use the article again, we need your permission. For such reprints we normally pay 50% of the original price.
We pay on publication of the issue the article appears in. For example, if your article is in the September/October issue, you'll get a check in the final two weeks of September. (I submit writers' bills about the 15th of the month.)
We're looking for articles on all aspects of trapping, from how-to trapping methods for all furbearers to trapline planning/organization, equipment, lure and bait, handling fur, selecting locations, dealing with weather, personal experiences, and more. If it’s trapping-related and informative we’ll probably be interested.
We’re also looking for short personal experience articles from trappers age 16 and younger, for our “Young Trapper” department.
Every computer and typewriter produces a different number of words per page, depending on the size and type of the font and how the margins are set. For this reason word count, not page count, is used to determine article length. Computer word processing programs have a word count feature in the “tools” section. If you’re using a typewriter, as a general rule the average full page has between 600-700 words. An exact count isn’t necessary; these are just rough guidelines.
We prefer articles from about 1,200 to about 2,000 words.
If you’re writing about a topic and the ideas keep coming, don’t worry about length, keep writing. Get everything down that you can. We want information! Very often we’ll get well over 2,000 words, even 3,000 or more, on one topic, and have broken it into Part I and Part II. When we do this, we can also pay you for two articles instead of one.
Detailed, focused, in-depth treatment of one subject is better than a general discussion of a broad topic. For example, “Shallow Water Snare Locations for Beaver” is better than “Snaring Beaver”. Be as specific as possible. Avoid vague statements like, "For coyotes, keep the snare back a good distance from the bait.” Tell us what exactly a “good distance” is. Why is it necessary? Is terrain/habitat a factor? For example, can snares be closer in thicker brush? Include as much detail as possible. Use examples from your own experience. Imagine that the reader has the article with him while making the set, like an instruction manual. Provide plenty of detail. We'd rather edit out extra material than need more to fill a topic out. The same goes for articles on personal experiences. Include enough detail so the reader can visualize the scenes.
“But I can’t write!”
We’ve listened to trappers talk for hours about methods, equipment, personal experiences, etc., and thought, “That would make a great article!” If trappers can keep each other spellbound sharing stories and advice, readers would be fascinated too. But when we approach people about doing articles on the topics they’d just talked comfortably and clearly about, too often they say, “But I can’t write.”
We beg to disagree. We feel that if you can talk intelligently about a topic, and if you want to share the knowledge, you can write about it.
First of all, we’re not looking for perfect writing, with all the grammar and punctuation correct, and paragraphs in perfect sequence. We’re looking for information. Trapper’s Post is not a literary magazine - it’s a place to share information. There are a lot of good trappers who can talk for hours about their particular area of expertise, yet they feel they can't write well enough to do an article on it. Please don't let that stop you. Write the article as if you were talking casually to another trapper. Do the best you can, but don't let concern about perfect spelling, punctuation, or writing style prevent you from writing. We’ll edit and correct your article - that’s our job. Our primary need is for good information. If you think you have something valuable to share with other trappers, we want to hear about it.
Professional writers don’t produce perfect writing the first time. They begin with the “first draft.” They let the ideas flow and follow them wherever they lead, even if it seems to be off the subject. This is the brainstorming, creative part of the writing process, and it’s important not to stop this flow by being concerned about perfect writing. Don’t block the movement of ideas and information, get it all down first. If you want, send us your first draft. We’ll clean it up; we’re the editors. Don’t be embarrassed by what you think is your poor writing ability. Be proud of the value of your knowledge.
Of course, if you want to polish your first draft by going over it, that’s fine. But don’t eliminate too much information. We’d rather have too much, so we can edit it down and tighten it, than not enough. Again, sometimes a writer sends so much material that we can get two articles out of it. That’s a good thing.
Very often while we’re editing we see points that could be expanded on to improve the article. We then call the writer and ask for more detail, and between us we produce some excellent material. It often becomes a co-writing process. Be sure to include your phone number or e-mail address with submissions so we can contact you.
If you have an idea for an article, it’s best to contact us by e-mail or phone first so we can fine-tune your approach, and avoid duplicating articles or slants we already have. For example, we might already have two articles on raccoon trapping and not need another for a while. Or if your topic is coyote behavior, we might focus it on territoriality. When we brainstorm with writers on topics we often come up with some excellent focused approaches.
Photos aren't essential if the article contains good information, but they help greatly. If possible take plenty, from different distances and angles. We routinely shoot one horizontal and one vertical view of each shot. It’s common to take 10-20 shots for one article and find only a handful useable, with only one or two excellent. Send all available quality photos, as it gives us a selection. Sketches and diagrams help too. If necessary we can redo them.
We prefer high-resolution digital photos taken with an 8-megapixel or higher camera. There are now phones that will take high-resolution photos. The steadier the camera is held, the more in focus the picture is, so we advise using a monopod when possible. But with effort, cameras and phones can be hand-held fairly stable. The best way to send us photos is as JPEG files attached to emails, although sending them on CD discs works well too.
Sharply focused prints are also usable, as we can scan them to use them electronically. If you scan them yourself, a minimum of 300 dpi is required, with your target size at 10 x 12-inches.
Send discs, print photos, and drawings by U.S. Postal Service. We highly recommend Priority Mail with delivery confirmation – the stiff cardboard envelopes protect photos and discs, Priority Mail gets here much faster, and it’s good to know when it was delivered.
The easiest articles for us to work with are submitted electronically, in a Windows-compatible file or text file. Microsoft Word is best. If you have email, send it as an attachment to an email message. If you don’t have email you can save the article on a disk and mail it. Or simply print or type it out and mail it to us.
When writing in a computer word processing program, please type single-spaced. Also, please do not insert graphics or extra commands (photos, charts, headers and footers, page breaks, etc.) in the text. We have to remove them before we process the text. What we want is a solid block of text, nothing more. And please, do not type all in capital letters, because then we have to manually retype the whole article.
If you’re using a typewriter, please double-space between lines, and use at least a 12-point font. We can scan typewritten material if it’s clean, clear, and not too small. This saves having to retype it.
Make sure your name and address are included with all submissions, as well as a phone number and email address if you have one. We need to know where to mail your check, and we may need to contact you with questions about the article. Also include any brief information you want at the end of the article. For example: Billy Bilgewater is an otter trapper from Minnesota. Maybe the name of your company if you have one (Finnegan’s Fur Co., Wiley Wildlife Control, etc.). It’s a chance to let readers know a bit about who you are.
To repeat, it’s best to run an article idea by us before writing it. This will save us both time.
If we don’t respond immediately to your submission, please be patient. Sometimes another part of this job consumes our time for days. If you don’t hear from us in a couple of weeks, feel free to rattle our cage.
Obviously, we can’t accept all articles submitted. Please don’t take it personally, there’s a reason, and we’d be glad to explain if asked. Often a reworked article makes it. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about a rejected article. Emails are better than phone calls because it can be hard to get through by phone at times, plus emails are written records that are easier to keep track of.
We’re looking forward to seeing your article.
Mike Wilhite, Editor
P.O. Box 128
Scandinavia, WI 54977
Phone: (715) 445-2540
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com