Submitting for Publication in TBM

By Don Thomas
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Many of our regular readers have expressed interest in submitting their own material for possible publication in the magazine, and we welcome that. We can't provide a complete course in writing here, but we can offer some practical suggestions. Bear in mind that most of our contributors, even the regulars, are bowhunters first and writers second. Don't be shy---we're glad to consider your material.
  1. Read the Submission Guidelines! Most magazines have a written description of the nuts and bolts of the submission process, and we do too. Many common questions can be answered easily by reading this short document, so look here first: Submission Guidelines

  2. Read the magazine! This is sound advice for new contributors to any magazine. Open-ended queries that begin with "Please tell me some topics you'd like me to write about" don't get you very far. The answer to that question is in every issue of the magazine.

  3. Query first. A concise, clearly written query letter of no more than three paragraphs should outline the piece you have in mind, explain why it would be relevant to TBM readers, and briefly state your qualifications to write it. A positive response to a query doesn't mean that we will accept the piece; it means we'd like to take a look. If the topic isn't right for us, or if we have an identical piece in our files, the query letter will keep you from wasting your time on something that isn't going to work. Send queries to me at thomasdon@me.com

  4. Work on your photo support. Poor photos are the prime reason we have to reject otherwise acceptable material, and if we have five submissions on the same topic we'll probably take the one with the best pictures. We can fix writing, but we can't conjure photos of your experience out of thin air. Basic photo instructions appear in the Submission Guidelines.

  5. Strive for the fresh and original. We get lots of submissions about common subjects like whitetails and making the switch to traditional archery gear. Since we can't take them all, we're going to look at those that present the material in a new and imaginative way. This doesn't mean you have to be weird. You just have to be creative.

  6. Make sure we can contact you! You'll want to hear what we have to say, but we can't tell you if we can't reach you. Email is by far the best alternative--include your address in the cover letter. If you don't have email, include a stamped, self-addressed envelope--and always do this anyway if you want material returned. Providing a phone number is not adequate. It's not up to us to track you down across multiple time zones at long distance rates.
Again, don't be shy. With over 30 years as a busy freelance writer under my belt, I try to treat new contributors the way I liked editors to treat me when I was getting started. That doesn't mean we'll take your piece--like most magazines, we have more submissions than we can publish. It does mean I'll do my best to be prompt, courteous, and constructive in any criticism I have to offer.

The notion that this is a "good old boys" club based on "who you know" is a myth. We welcome new contributors. Our regulars were new contributors once; they became regulars by doing what we've just talked about. So get with it!