Editorial and Photo Guidelines
How to submit articles and photos to Sports Afield
Guidelines for Writers
Sports Afield is America’s original outdoor magazine, founded in 1887. The magazine is devoted to people who share a passion for high-end sporting pursuits, especially North American and African big-game hunting. Our focus is on adventure hunts for species such as sheep, elk, caribou, moose, trophy whitetails and mule deer, bears, African plains game, and dangerous species such as Cape buffalo, lion, and leopard. Coverage of fine guns, optics, clothing, and equipment is an essential part of the magazine. To a more limited extent, we also feature stories on upland hunting and big-game hunts outside North America and Africa.
While most of our departments are written by regular contributors, we do accept some feature articles from freelance writers. The majority of our coverage consists of big-game hunting destination pieces and exciting, well-written hunting adventure stories. Please do not send “hunt-payback” pieces; we do not run stories that are blatant advertisements for a particular outfitter. We run very few “how-to” pieces. We are also interested in stories about rifles and calibers that are appropriate to the type of hunting we cover. Features should be no more than 2,500 words in length. We also accept some short items (500-1000 words) for our Almanac section, primarily conservation-related subjects, but other topics may be considered. Freelancers may also contribute to the For the Record department, which tells the stories of world record animals.
The best way to sell to Sports Afield is to first query the editor. Queries should clearly explain what you’d like to write about, show the editor why the subject is relevant, and why you’re qualified to write the piece. Also tell us what kind of photo support you will provide. You may also submit finished manuscripts with photos to us for review. Please understand that we receive a large number of freelance submissions every week. Please allow at least eight weeks for us to review your article or query; we will get back to you with an answer whether we decide to use the piece or not. Please do not query us via telephone.
All manuscripts must be submitted on CD, DVD, or a memory stick. Microsoft Word files are preferred. Please include a hard copy of the article. Finished articles should not be submitted via e-mail unless specifically requested in that format by the editor. (It's OK to send queries via e-mail.) Please, also, do not e-mail photos unless specifically requested; large numbers of photos overwhelm our e-mail server and will get your submission routed to the "delete" folder. We will not review any simultaneous submissions or stories that have been previously published elsewhere. Please keep a copy of your article and digital photos as we do not return ANY unsolicited materials.
Photographic support is extremely important. Every feature article submission must be accompanied by at least ten different high-resolution digital images. There should be a good variety of images, including action shots of hunters glassing and hiking, photos of the camp and terrain, and a “trophy shot.” Photos of hunters posing with their trophies should be tasteful, respectful (please don’t sit on the animal), free of blood, and show the animal to best advantage. Please do not send slides, black-and-white photos, or color prints. Digital photos must a resolution of 300 dpi at 8x10 inches in size, taken with a camera of not less than 6 megapixels. We accept JPG, TIF, EPS, and RAW images. Please do not process or sharpen your photos using Photoshop or other image-processing software.
Include a photo release form for all recognizable people pictured in your photographs (other than family members or guides), and submit clear captions for each photograph that include: names of people depicted, location, date, activity, and relevance to the story subject.
Unless they were assigned by the editor, all submissions are reviewed “on speculation.” If your work is accepted for publication, you will be sent a freelance contract. We purchase first worldwide rights for all features and departments; we buy all rights to Almanac items. Payment will be made upon publication.
Advice for Aspiring Writers
Some writers ask us for detailed critiques of their articles, which is impossible for our staff to provide due to the large number of submissions we receive. Please do not ask us for advice on how to improve your writing--that's the job of a writing workshop or English professor, not an editor. You can find many creative writing courses online or at local community colleges. However, because we see many of the same problems from manuscript to manuscript, we’ve put together this short guide for writers, which may help.
Most common reasons Sports Afield stories are rejected:
Hunt is too mundane. We get dozens of articles about pronghorn hunts in Wyoming, for example. Ditto plains game hunts in South Africa. Not that these aren't great hunts, but a lot of people write about them, so to stand out, a story on these topics needs to have an interesting or unusual twist.
Hunt (or method of hunting) is too bizarre or uses questionable methods or ethics.
Story/hunt is too similar to something we published recently or will be publishing in the near future.
Photos aren’t usable. Every once in a great while we might purchase a story without photos, but it has to be absolutely first-rate or serve a particular need. You MUST have an excellent photo package, and not just one or two photos. We can’t use prints, low-res digital, or badly composed or out-of-focus images.
The hunt was nice, but the story was told in a way that simply doesn’t excite the reader (or editor). Yawn.
- The writing is simply not up to snuff. It goes without saying that your story needs to be well organized, well paced, and grammatically correct. Here are a few other pieces of advice for great writing:
Get to the point. We don’t need to know that you booked the hunt at a convention last year, flew for 20 hours, saw the camp, got acquainted with your outfitter, had a nice dinner, slept well, woke up, it was cold, you had eggs for breakfast, etc. You want to hook your readers within the first paragraph, so get right into the exciting stuff immediately. All that other detail is for your hunting journal, not your magazine article.
Stay active. Passive writing is one of the most common problems we see.
Omit needless words. You may think it adds color when you explain that the road was straight, reddish brown, rocky, dusty, grass-lined, etc., but all you are really doing is exhausting your reader. Tighten it up. Add description by incorporating it into the action, if possible.
Avoid writing in the present tense. Some writers seem to think it makes them sound literary. Most of the time, it doesn’t. But whatever tense you choose, don't change it in the middle of your story.
Address article queries to:
Attn: Editor in Chief
15621 Chemical Lane
Huntington Beach, CA 92649-1506
Sports Afield Photo Guidelines
Sports Afield magazine is devoted to people who share a passion for high-end sporting pursuits, especially North American and African big-game hunting. We often purchase photos from professional photographers to illustrate our feature articles and departments. Most photos are purchased from our Contributing Photographers, but we do purchase some freelance photography on occasion. Our primarily photo needs are for Western big-game species such as sheep, elk, caribou, moose, pronghorn, trophy mule deer, grizzly and black bears, African plains game, and dangerous species such as Cape buffalo, lion, and leopard. We also look for action shots of hunters in the field glassing, hiking, and shooting. To a more limited extent, we have a need for photos of more exotic game species such as red deer, Spanish ibex, and mouflon. We purchase very few images of upland game birds or waterfowl, and we do not cover fishing at all.
Photographers may submit a selection of photos to the editor for consideration. We do occasionally e-mail photographers with requests. However, the vast majority of the photos we use in the magazine are those that are kept on file with us.
We strongly prefer high-resolution digital photos in JPG, TIF, EPS, or RAW formats. Photos must be 300 ppi at the size they will run. For example: a photo spread across both pages would need to be 11-1/4" x 17" at 300 ppi for full bleed across the magazine. To assist us in viewing and selecting files, please include a contact sheet that shows thumbnails of the images and their corresponding file names with all digital submissions. We strongly prefer files that have not been altered or sharpened. Please do not e-mail files; burn them to CD and mail to us.
We purchase one-time North American rights to images according to a rate schedule available upon request. Payment is made upon publication. Photographers will be credited with name and/or Web address. Photographers must provide, upon request, photo release forms for any recognizable person appearing in any photograph.
Send photo submissions to:
Attn: Editor in Chief
15621 Chemical Lane
Huntington Beach, CA 92649.