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Writer's Guidelines

Topics
We're looking for articles on all aspects of trapping, from how-to trapping methods for all furbearers to other topics like 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.

Article length
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.

Articles can be almost any length; however the longest we print are usually about 2,000 words, for full-length feature articles that treat a topic in depth. We also have a need for shorter articles dealing with a single topic, brief incident, interesting fact, or useful tip, between 500-700 words.

If you’re writing about a topic and the ideas start coming, don’t worry about length, keep writing. Get everything down that you can. Very often I’ve gotten well over 2,000 words on one topic, and have broken it into two separate articles. We commonly do Part I and Part II articles. And we can then pay you for two articles instead of one.

Approach
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 station.” What exactly is a “good distance”? 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. I'd rather edit out extra 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!”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to a group of trappers talk for hours about methods, equipment, personal experiences, etc., and I’d think, “That would make a great article!” If trappers can keep each other spellbound sharing stories and advice, I know readers would be fascinated too. But when I 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.”

I don’t agree. I believe 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 submit 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. I’ll edit and correct your article. That’s my 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 me your first draft. I’ll clean it up; I’m the editor. 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. I’d rather have too much, so I can edit it down and tighten it, than not enough. Sometimes a writer sends me so much material that we can get two articles out of it. That’s a good thing.

One good way to write short articles is, when an idea hits, simply write me an e-mail message explaining it, in detail. Again, don’t worry about perfect writing; e-mails are intended to be casual and conversational. I’ve often gotten e-mails from trappers who were simply telling me something they thought I’d be interested in, and who were surprised when I replied, “Let’s publish this.”

Working Together
Very often while I’m editing I see points that could be expanded on to improve the article. I then call the writer and ask for more detail, and between us we produce some excellent material. Be sure to include your phone number or e-mail address with submissions so I can contact you.

If you have an idea for an article, it’s best to contact me by e-mail or phone first so we can fine-tune your approach, and avoid duplicating articles or slants we already have. For example I 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 a writer and I brainstorm together on a topic, we often come up with some excellent focused approaches.

Photos
Photos aren't essential if the article contains good information, but they help greatly. If possible take plenty, from different distances and angles. I routinely shoot one horizontal and one vertical view of each shot. It’s common to shoot a whole roll of 24 shots for one article and find only a handful useable, with only one or two excellent. Send all available quality photos, as it gives me a selection. Sketches and diagrams help too. We can redo them.

We prefer high-resolution digital photos taken with a 5-megapixel or higher camera. Please make sure your camera is set to its highest quality tiff or jpeg setting. Send digital photos to us on a CD or DVD. Please include your name and contact information on any CD or DVD you send for consideration. Or send them in low resolution as JPEG files as attachments to an e-mail so I can make a selection. We’ll ask to have the selected ones sent in higher resolution by e-mail.

Sharply focused prints are also accepted, but for best results have your 35mm film developed and put on a CD. This will save you money and give us the best resolution, and we will send you the disk back when we are done with it. The 200-speed color print film that is available everywhere works well for most light situations. Mail the color prints (4 by 6-inch copies are fine) so we can scan them. If you scan them yourself, a minimum of 300 dpi is required, with your target size at 10 x 12-inches.

Send disks, print photos, and drawings by U.S. Postal Service. I highly recommend Priority Mail with delivery confirmation – the stiff cardboard envelopes protect photos and disks, Priority Mail gets here much faster, and it’s good to know when it was delivered.

Submission Guidelines
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 e-mail, send longer articles (over 500 words or so) as an attachment to an e-mail message. Shorter articles can be pasted (copied) right into the e-mail message itself, or you can do the writing itself right in the e-mail message. If you don’t have e-mail you can save the article on a disk and mail it.

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. I 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 I 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 e-mail address if you have one. We need to know where to mail your check, and I 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.

Be Patient 
To repeat, it’s best to run an article idea by me before writing it. This will save us both time.
If I don’t respond immediately to your submission, please be patient. Sometimes another part of this job consumes my time for days. If you don’t hear from me in a couple of weeks, feel free to rattle my cage.

Obviously, we can’t accept all articles submitted. Please don’t take it personally, there’s a reason, and I’d be glad to explain if asked. Often a reworked article makes it. As a professional writer for over 25 years, I could paper a room with the rejection slips I’ve gotten. It’s never fun, but it’s always educational.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. E-mails are better than phone calls because it can be hard to get through by phone at times, plus e-mails are written records that are easier to keep track of.

I’m looking forward to seeing your submission.

Bob Noonan, Editor
Trapper’s Post
P.O. Box 129
Canaan, ME 04924-0129
Phone: (207) 660-2380
E-mail: editor@trapperspost.com

TRAPPER'S POST
Exclusively Trapping
 

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.)

Trapper's Post
P.O. Box 129, Canaan, Maine 04924
Phone: 207.660.2380 Fax: 207.474.0940

Trappers Post January 2018
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