Tips for Getting Published

In my mind, I’m debating the best way to write this article. I’m inclined to write this from an all-too-familiar perspective, using a fictitious evening. While this story is not based on any one evening, the issues that are addressed in this story come up regularly. Also, the names I am using are totally fictitious. I’m just grabbing a name that comes to mind when I need to plug one in for interest. With this disclaimer, let’s begin.

 It’s late, and Bethany and I are making last-minute selections for Nature Friend. We have already missed our target date to submit this issue to the printer. We desperately want to finish our work tonight so our printer can have everything first thing tomorrow morning.

The boys have already gone through the mailed-in “You Can Draw” submissions and randomly chosen a percentage of the drawings we need. Bethany and I are now processing the e-mailed submissions to fill the remaining slots. Over the last several weeks as your e-mailed submissions came in, they have been accumulating in a folder in my computer. The deadline for submissions is past, and tonight we are making the selections.  

As we work, we come upon a note with one submission that says, “I’m not very good with the computer. Please let me know if I did not do something right.” – Signed by Dad or Mom.

Take your pick—the scan is too small, too dark, too light, or not attached—and there is no time to respond to this note. We feel bad for Andrea, but we won’t be able to consider her art.

We can’t look at each submission as it arrives. E-mails are automatically collected in a specific folder, and when we finally look at them, we are only an hour or three away from being finished making selections. If you have questions concerning how to e-mail art or photos, find someone on your end that can confirm you are preparing the submission correctly.

As I begin moving our selections from the e-mail folder to the issue file, I notice that the file size of Harvey’s scan is very small—only 53 kb. Hmmm. After opening the file, I see the picture is 3 inches (8 cm) square (our posted minimum measurement), but the file resolution is only 72 pixels per inch.  For printing, we must use files that are a resolution of 300 pixels per inch, so that is why our guidelines call for a resolution of 300. I know that when I change the resolution of this drawing to 300 pixels per inch, the file will shrink up to the size of a postage stamp or smaller.

I always think about how nearly Harvey was published, and how Sandra, now in, was not originally chosen.

Aaron sent in a story for the story contest, but the story contest was last month. I glanced at the address Aaron put on the envelope, and the story was sent to Readers’ Issue, 4253 Woodcock Lane, Dayton, VA 22821. I see the problem. The material was sent to the Readers’ Issue, so it was put with the material to evaluate for the June issue. Since the story contest was in May, Aaron’s story didn’t get considered, as we won’t process the Readers’ Issue (June magazine) mail until after the Story Contest (May magazine) is completed. In our rules for submission, we note that stories not selected for the Story Contest (May), will automatically be considered for the Readers’ Issue (June). However, the reverse of this does not work.

Another tip that must be addressed—always put your full contact information on every piece of every submission—each piece of art, every CD, every e-mail, every story, even every page of every story is a good policy. This includes name, age (for children’s submissions), full address, and, when possible, phone number.

For those of you that submit material by e-mail, we sometimes come across a story or photo we would like to consider, but contact information is missing. When we write back and ask for your address, please resend the whole submission. We want your contact information with your submission, not in another e-mail. We can’t keep multiple e-mails “married” together just so we have your contact information.

Edit yore work . Let something reed your story and help u with editting. Give your story a title. Don’t bother too submit blurree fotos of your hike!! We want yore best photos, not all your photos. Prepare the submission and send materials in harmony with hour guidelines before the dead-line.Bee thorough .

SASE stands for Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope. Some of you send these so we return your work. When an “Invisibles” activity is submitted, a “You Can Draw” art lesson, and a photograph for the cover, one SASE doesn’t work. We divide your submission out three ways with other materials submitted for those categories, so three envelopes are needed.

Tips for Writers

Please use a font such as Times New Roman 12 point. Easy-to-read is the key. Large point sizes, fancy fonts, bold colors, or colored backgrounds are not restful to edit. When sending manuscripts by e-mail, send only one manuscript per e-mail, not three. We need the freedom to shuffle three manuscripts three directions, and that doesn’t work well when they are all in one document.

When submitting a puzzle, remember to submit the answer key too. We want to see at a glance where all twenty-five words are hidden.

Tips for Artists

Use plain paper instead of ruled paper. Don’t fold your artwork or write your name and address through the art. Neither should you write your name across the art on the back side of the paper. This shows through when the art is scanned. Rather, put your name and address outside the margins of your drawing whether written on the front side or back.

Tips for Photographers

When you submit high resolution photographs as e-mail attachments, it is fine to send them in multiple e-mails. If you send several photos in the same e-mail, keep all photos in the e-mail on the same subject. Use a meaningful subject line to describe what we will find in an e-mail. For example, the subject could say, “Butterflies,” or “Red fox family,” or “Wildflowers,” or “Hike along Copperhead Creek.” What we don’t like to see are e-mails that say, “More Photos—2 of 5,” “More Photos—3 of 5,” etc.

It is late at night, and I can’t find a photo I recall seeing of a crab on a sandy beach. All I see are e-mails that say “More Photos.” I can’t even recall the name of the photographer. All I can do is hope I run across the photo again sometime. For now, I’ll choose Elaine’s photo of a frog.

Photographers, use a number with your photos that can easily be cross-referenced to a caption sheet. Readers appreciate captions and stories with photos, and we are counting on you to provide that. When captioning your photos, remember it is not a bee, a butterfly, or a bird. Neither is it a hornet, a swallowtail, or a bluebird. It IS a bald-faced hornet, an Eastern tiger swallowtail, or a Western Bluebird.

E-mailed photos should be sent as jpeg attachments, not inserted in e-mail text. Send to one of the photo e-mail addresses we list, not the editor e-mail. When we are looking for photos for a feature, we look through the various photo e-mail folders, but we do not look through all the manuscripts submitted to the editor.

Photographers sending CD’s should include a contact sheet or prints so we can easily see what is on the CD without inserting it into a computer.

For those of you wishing to be considered for a front or back cover, submit vertical photos or art. We regularly see horizontal photos submitted along with a note, “I hope you can use this on the front cover.” Think about it—covers are a vertical format. Horizontal just won’t work. And here is another tip—front covers need uncluttered space for the masthead, and back covers need space for the address block. We received an attractive painting for back cover consideration for the Readers’ Issue, but the address block would have knocked out too much important information. It is important to plan empty space into the photo or drawing, if you want it to be considered for the front or back cover.

And this CD of photos on my desk—does anyone have a clue where it came from? There is no name or contact information on it. Well, it really doesn’t matter this time, I suppose, because the files on it are embedded in some kind of slide show or are otherwise not accessible. The sender must not have checked the CD before sending it, or noticed that we only want high resolution jpeg or tiff files.

The Powell family in Springfield, Missouri, took an interesting series of photos of a hawk eating a garter snake on their backyard fence. What an interesting opportunity they had for photos. They gave me permission to use this photo and share their story here as an example.

The first thing I noticed when looking at the e-mail was the small file size of the attached photos. This hawk photo was only 75 KB. I knew immediately the file size was small enough that a picture at a resolution of 300 would be quite small.

After opening the attachment and seeing the fun picture, I sent a note back asking if they could send me a high resolution file. Unfortunately, their camera was set to take small photos instead of large ones, and this was the biggest file they could send.

This brings us to another tip—set your camera to the largest file size it can take. When an opportunity like this suddenly presents itself, you will be shooting the best photos your camera is capable of taking.

Krista Frederick took this photo of a starfish on the Oregon Coast. Before I opened the attachment, I knew the 4 MB photo that was attached could be used as a large picture if we chose to. Sending large files increases the chances of your photo being selected.