Submission guidelines for the Mountain Gazette
Thanks for your interest in contributing to the Mountain Gazette. As we have no writing staff, we rely almost exclusively on unsolicited freelance feature and department submissions. Thus, it’s fair to say that we, well, solicit unsolicited submissions. And we are very appreciative of people taking the time to send us their stories. It means a lot to us.
Due to the almost stunning volume of submissions we receive, combined with the fact that we have but one person dealing with those submissions (and that one person likes to spend as much time as possible hiking out in the Gila National Forest and/or imbibing at the Parlor and the Buckhorn Saloon), we have arrived at a point where we must insist upon submissions coming to us formatted properly. Sad to report, submissions that do not adhere to these formatting restrictions will not be considered for publication in the Mountain Gazette. Sorry for the sudden fall from blissfully disorganizational grace.
• Note first that we do not accept queries (story proposals). We only consider unsolicited manuscripts submitted on speculation, which means, no matter what you may think, no matter what you may read between the lines of any communication we might have, no matter who you are, we make no promises whatsoever about publishing your submission.
• The most important thing is to be very familiar with the Mountain Gazette before sending submissions our way. A quick read of an issue or two likely won’t cut it. We have a near-tribal mentality/history that goes back 40 years. Though there’s no way for a new writer to immerse him or herself totally in that entire history, a thorough scrutinization of numerous issues (at least) will certainly help you gain the necessary understanding of our culture, style (or lack thereof) and our perspectives. Nothing irritates an editor more than the feeling that a writer has not taken the time to familiarize him or herself with the magazine.
• There’s no way to say this except to just say it: A magazine that has been home to such luminarious bylines as Edward Abbey, Hunter S. Thompson, Dick Dorworth, George Sibley, Katie Lee, Mary Sojourner, Ellen Meloy, John Nichols, Charles Bowden, Craig Childs, William Eastlake, John Jerome, Barry Corbet, Royal Robbins, Lito Tejada-Flores, Galen Rowell et al requires that you send in your A-quality work. This is not to indicate on any level that we are not open to beginning writers or one-time writers. Quite the contrary. If it’s a good story written well, we want to see it. We just want to stress that, when we get a cover note saying something like, “I just scribbled this out this morning and would like to know when you’re going to publish it,” it kind of rubs us wrong. Maybe Charles Bowden can scribble something out this morning that’s up to publications snuff, but not many other people. (Please forgive us for how haughty that sounds.)
• That said, the Mountain Gazette is not really a venue for writers or aspiring writers just looking to get published. We are a venue for writers and aspiring writers who have a certain story they really, really want to tell. It may not seem like it, but there’s a profound difference.
• Our pay rates are not very good. Anywhere between $50 for a short Mountain Notebook to $500 for a massive freelance feature. What we lack in remuneration capabilities, we make up for with a solemn promise that, under no purposeful circumstances (we can’t vouch for accidents, that being the nature of accidents and all) will we screw your story up, the way many publications do. We wholeheartedly ascribe to the Editorial Hippocratic Oath: First, Do No Harm. We promise that, if we decide to run your story, when it comes out in print, you’ll recognize it as Your Story, not some unidentifiable mess that’s been mangled by five different editors you’ve never heard of. This is not to say that we won’t tweak some grammar or phraseology here and there, but, if there’s anything larger than that, we send the story back to the writer and have him or her address whatever concerns we might have.
• Since all of our issues are now themed (more on this later), it often takes more than a year for a submission to receive a thumbs up or thumbs down. Basically, if a story is about climbing, and it does not make it into our annual June Climbing Issue for whatever reason, then it likely won’t be considered again for publication until the next annual June Climbing Issue.
• We need for all submissions to arrive as Word.doc attachments. It is imperative that the name of the story and the author’s name appear on the first page of the attachment, not just in the cover email. We often print out several dozen submissions at one time and it’s easy to lose track of who sent what if the story name and author’s name are not on the actual manuscript. Under no circumstances are we able to consider stories that are submitted by being pasted into the body copy of an email, as that results in formatting nightmares that make us want to drink even more.
• Though these are not deal-killers, we certainly appreciate the following: 1) Please do not tab indent paragraphs. A simple return at the end of the previous paragraph will do. 2) Please do not double space at the end of sentences. A single space will do. 3) Please do not double space between paragraphs. A single space will do.
• Departments: Most of our departments are sub-contracted out. Ergo, we do not at this time accept unsolicited submissions for our Smoke Signals, Dateline: Europe, Mountain Music, Mountain Media, Mountain Brew Notes or Cartographic departments. We do accept submissions for our Way of the Mountain (Poetry) Department (send poems to email@example.com) and Mountain Notebook departments. Please read the magazine to familiarize yourself with those departments. In the near future, we hope to revive our Lost Art, Orientation, Bumpersticker, Reviews and Obituaries departments.
• Length: If there is one writ-in-stone thing we can say, it’s that, the shorter the submission, the better chance of it seeing print. We run Mountain Notebooks as short as 500 words and features as long as 6,000 words. We hesitate to limit creativity via artificially established word counts. That said, our editorial hole is only so deep.
• Editorial themes: January: Deep Winter. February/March: Annual Dog Issue. April: Spring Travel. May: Rivers. June: Climbing. July: High Summer. August/September: On Foot in the Mountains. October: Skiing. November: Mountain Bars. December: Holidays. You will notice that several of these themes are, despite their undeniable seasonality, fairly ambiguous. Also, we are certainly open to metaphoric interpretations on those themes. Still, in order for a submission to be considered for a given issue, it more than likely needs to plus-or-minus fit that theme. Submissions for all themed issues need to arrive no less than two months before publication date to be considered. There is no wiggle room on this.
• Photos: Please let us know if you have art to accompany your submission. A smattering of low-rez jpegs is always helpful. Please name those jpegs something that lets us know what story they go with. If we opt to publish your photos, we’ll need access to a higher-rez version. We are also very open to photo submissions that do not necessarily go with stories. We run a Mountain Scrapbook page (which we don’t pay for … sorry), and we often run unsolicited photos on our Table of Contents page and sometimes on our cover. Also: We sometimes will attach, say, climbing photos that arrived story-less with a climbing story we have received that arrived photo-less. Again, our pay rates ain’t so good — anywhere from $25 for an inside shot to $150 for the cover. We pay a bit extra for stories that include photos. Please send stand-alone photos to our art director, Keith Svihovek, at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are contributing photos to go with a story, please send them along with the story to email@example.com.
• Rights: We buy First North American Serial Rights, which basically means that, as soon as the story and/or photo(s) is/are printed, all rights automatically revert to the author/photographer.
• Internet: We move all copy and photos from new issues onto our Internet site, mountaingazette.com. We assume that our contributors are cool with that. We also carry archives of back issues. We are beginning to move more copy that does not appear in the print version of MG onto our website. At this time, we are unable to pay for use of copy that appears solely on our site. The blogs that appear on mountaingazette.com are all solicited. At this time, we are not in the market for unsolicited blogs, though that may change in the future, which, when you get right down to it, is the only time things like this can change, the past being sort of off-limits, space/time-continuum-wise.
• Final thematic notes: Given our name, we are only interested in stories and photos that are “mountain related.” We know that covers some large physical and conceptual territory, but there it is. Though we are certainly more Rocky Mountain-centric than anything else, we are open to submissions covering any place/experience that boasts vertical terrain. We certainly have strayed from the mountains on occasion, whenever the style/feel of a story compels us to leave our regular comfort zone, as when we did a story on catfish noodling out of Oklahoma. No mountains, but definitely a Gazette story. But it doesn’t happen often. Also: Though this goes through phases, like menstrual cycles, at this time, we are more open to stories with movement than we are navel-gazers/“reflections on [fill in the blank]”. We are not big fans of stories that start with the first-person singular pronoun. We are hoping to get more journalism and profile-type stuff. We rarely, rarely run fiction, though we often run lies, exaggeration and overt bullshit. Also please note that we do not run so-called “destination” stories. Certainly, there are times when our stories will out of contextual necessity mention their setting, but under no circumstances will we reveal any “secret places.”
• Though we acknowledge receipt of a submission (if we don’t within a week, please re-send), it usually takes us several months to actually read a submission, as we get several dozen a week and it’s just one overworked person, who ain’t as young and spry as he used to be, toiling away down here in slow-moving southwest New Mexico.
• Though we are open to bad language, we prefer that it be contextual and not gratuitous. Unless you’re the editor. Which you’re not.
• Know the difference between “its” and “it’s.”
• Please take advantage of your computer’s spell check capabilities.
• If you find any typos or misspellings within the bowels of these submissions guidelines, we may have a job for you.
• Send all submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org