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The great outdoor markets

The field of outdoor writing is enormous. In the US there are more than 60 million licensed fishermen. This doesn’t include campers, hunters, hikers, and others who choose, to spend much of their free time in the outdoors. And all of these people are hungry for information.

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The big three publications for this audience are Field & Stream, Outdoor Life and Sports Afield, but other magazines–such as Arizona Hunter & Angler, Michigan Hunting & Fishing and Dakota Outdoors–are found on the coffee tables of outdoorsmen, too. These regional and specialty publications may be small, but they can be an outdoor writer’s bread and butter in terms of regular checks. Keep these tips in mind to make this market lucrative for you.

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  • Look for new markets. This includes regular visits to magazine racks in your area (and nearby in larger towns), newsstands, and sporting goods stores or bait shops where outdoor publications are sold. When you’re on vacation, watch for magazines you’ve never seen. That’s how I discovered Arizona Hunter & Angler. I’ve since added the publication to my stable of regular contributions,
  • Check your local library. Here are a few of the places outdoor writers can look for additional markets:
  • Gale Directory of Publications lists magazines and newspapers with addresses and editorial contacts. It’s very helpful in locating small, regional publications.
  • Ulrich’s Periodical Directory is a comprehensive listing of magazines and newspapers published in the US.
  • Working Press of the Nation covers newspaper markets.
  • Study the publication. Many outdoor markets have specific needs, such as a specific state or region, or just one aspect of outdoor sports. Sending a tailored article is key.
  • Smaller publications may have greater opportunities. Regional outdoor markets often need shorter articles than you’re used to. This means that although these publications may pay less for your work, it takes less time to produce an article. Small outdoor publications may also be more receptive to reprints and regular columns. In some cases, you can sell the same article many times to several different publications. If you do sell an article more than once, you must sell it only to those markets that don’t overlap readership. For example, an article on catching panfish may be published in, say, Arizona Hunter & Angler at the same time ifs published in Michigan Hunting & Fishing–the magazines’ readers are 2,000 miles apart. Still, always tell editors that your manuscript has been sold or submitted to noncompeting markets.
  • Be willing to work with small publications. Most have small staffs, tight budgets and pay on publication. Don’t let this deter you from cultivating a working relationship with the editor. Regular contributions can still mean regular checks because smaller publications often work with shorter deadlines, publishing your article within a month of acceptance in many cases.

Not all hidden outdoor markets are small operations. Some are specific publications targeting one aspect of the outdoors, and pay very well for freelance contributions. In all cases, it’s best to get your hands on several issues of the publication you’ve discovered, as well as the current writer’s guidelines, if available.

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Arizona Hunter & Angler is a monthly magazine that looks “for stories about hunting and fishing aspects as they apply to Arizona,” says editor Harry Morgan. “We want how-to and where-to stories, as well as do-it-yourself articles that show and tell readers how to make or modify an item connected with hunting and fishing. Reader benefit is a foremost consideration, with entertainment a second interest.”

Terms: Pays $25-$35, on publication, for one-time Arizona rights to feature articles of 1,000-2,000 words. Submissions: Query Morgan. Submit seasonal material at least four months in advance. Responds in 2-4 weeks. 2825 S. 46th St., Phoenix 85040, tel. 602/894-2554.

Bassin’ is published 8 times a year with a percentage of each issue devoted to seasonal themes. The magazine is especially interested in how-to bass fishing technique articles, says editor Mark Chestnut. “Bassin’ is directed to bass fishing the world over for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted Kentucky) bass. Queries on white bass, stripers and other species such as the Suwanee bass of Florida and Georgia, as well as the pavon (peacock bass) of South America will be considered.” Bassin’ wants articles that include lure presentation, tackle techniques, some regional fishing techniques, structural patterns, tackle and boat maintenance.

Terms: Pays $300-$500 and up, on acceptance, for first North American serial rights to features of 1,200-1,500 words accompanied by photos (color slides/transparencies preferred). Query Chestnut. Responds in 3-4 weeks. Guidelines and sample copy available. 5300 CityPlex Tower, 2448 E. 81st St., Tulsa, Oklahoma 74137.

Crappie is a bimonthly for crappie fishermen. “We are especially interested in new and proven crappie fishing approaches,” says managing editor Lawrence Taylor. “Features may also be directed to panfishing techniques for bluegill, warmouth, rock bass and a variety of sunfish species.” Crappie accepts ideas for articles on lure/ bait presentations, tackle techniques, structural patterns and conservation. Also accepts some regional technique articles, such as fishing for crappie at power-plant lakes, Midwest farm ponds, Florida swamps and Western reservoirs.

Terms: Pays $300-$500, on acceptance, for first North American serial rights to features of 1,500-1,800 words with photos. Submissions: Query Taylor. Responds in 34 weeks, Guidelines for SASE; sample copy available. 5300 CityPlex Tower, 2448 E. 81st St., Tulsa, Oklahoma 74137, tel. 918/491-6100.

Dakota Outdoors is a monthly for and about the Dakotas. “We publish features about fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits,” says editor Kevin Hipple. Articles should apply to the outdoor life in the Dakotas, including fishing and hunting experiences and advice, boating, camping, hiking, environmental concerns, and nature in general. “We also cover legislation, governmental concerns, product information, hints and tips, and personalities and humor relevant to the Dakotas.”

Terms: Pays $20-$50, on publication, for features of 1,000-1,500 words. “We would like to buy exclusive rights in our area. Please inform us if the article has been–or will be–published elsewhere.” Submissions: Query or submit complete manuscript to Rachel Engbrecht, managing editor. Responds in 6-8 weeks. Guidelines for SASE; sample copy available. Box 669, Pierre, South Dakota 57501, tel. 605/224-7301.

Fishing Facts, a bimonthly, calls itself “the freshwater fishing authority for the ’90s.” Editor Roger Sparks wants technical how-to on modern freshwater fishing techniques. “This magazine really caters to the diehard, dedicated and knowledgeable fisherman,” Sparks says.

Along with how-to, Fishing Facts also accepts articles on new technology–tackle, boats, motors, etc.–and profiles on prominent fishermen or TV personalities. “But the main thing is those profiles must contain how-to,” he adds. “The angler should be able to pick up a tip or two from every article.”

Terms: Pays up to $500 for features of about 2,000 words accompanied by a selection of supporting photos (prefers color transparencies or b&w glossies). Pays on acceptance for first rights. Submissions: Query or send complete manuscript to Sparks. Responds in 4-6 weeks. Sample copy available. Suite 4, 1901 Bell Ave., Des Moines, Iowa 50315-1067.

In-Fisherman, published 7 times a year, is one of the top fishing magazines in the nation and concentrates on all aspects of the sport. “We don’t publish a large amount of outside submissions,” editors say. “We do allow room for exceptional pieces by writers other than our regulars. We’re happy to look over any submissions.”

All pieces must concern fresh and saltwater fishing; the editors emphasize the freshwater in freshwater fishing techniques, tackle, where-to and how-to. “Major features must be hard hitting and knowledgeable, stressing breakthroughs and insights in fishing, the underwater environment or both.

“We also accept short features that capture the mood and setting of a fine fishing experience, hot spots for fishing, or interesting opinions concerning the status of the sport.”

Terms: Pays up to $500 for major features, and $50-$200 for short features of 500-1,500 words. Pays on acceptance for first North American serial rights. Submissions: Query Doug Stange, editor in chief. Responds in 4-6 weeks. Guidelines for SASE; sample copy available. 2 In-Fisherman Dr., Brainerd, Minnesota 56401, tel. 218/829-1648.

Michigan Hunting & Fishing is published 8 times a year for the Michigan sportsman: from the cane-pole farm pond fisherman to deer hunters. About 80% of the magazine is freelance written. Buys between 90-100 manuscripts per year. “Anyone can sell to us,” says editor Kenny Darwin. “We don’t necessarily look for the journalistically disciplined manuscript. What we look for is material written by people who love their sport and have the need to share information. We care about manuscripts that have localized, charismatic, fact-filled material that will appeal to our readers.” Darwin buys how-to material on any aspect of hunting and fishing in Michigan, where-to’s, when to fish or hunt, techniques, gear, nostalgia, and some humor.

Terms: Pays $100-$200, on publication, for one-time rights to features of 1,000-3,000 words. Submissions: Query Darwin. Responds in 14 weeks. Guidelines and sample copy on request. Box 977, East Lansing, Michigan 48823.

Midwest Outdoors is a monthly with regional tabloid supplements. The magazine covers hunting, fishing, camping and boating, in general, while the supplements (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin) cover the same topics in relation to each state.

“We have no secrets at Midwest Outdoors,” says editor Gene Laulunen. “We share all our time-tested techniques with readers. Our goal is to help people enjoy the outdoors.”

Because the magazine is 100% freelance written, there are lots of opportunities for writers. “The best way to break in here is to write an article for a regional issue. But ask for our writer’s guide first.” Also considers ideas for columns or departments.

Terms: Pays $15-$30 for articles of 1,000-1,500 words, and $25 for columns, departments and reprints. Pays on publication, for one-time rights. Indicate availability of maps, photos or slides. Submissions: Send complete manuscripts to Laulunen. Responds in 1-2 weeks. Guidelines for SASE; sample copy $1. 111 Shore Dr., Burr Ridge, Illinois 60521, tel. 708/887-7722, fax 708/887-1958.

Northeast Outdoors is a monthly for RV owners and campers in the Northeast states. “Our readers are family campers looking for information about specific campgrounds and areas in the Northeast in which to camp,” says editorial director John Florian. “We prefer first-person articles that reflect family camping and traveling experiences. We also want RV and camping tips, such as RV maintenance, safety, how-to and camp cooking.”

Terms: Pays $40-$80, on publication, for one-time rights to articles of 800-1,000 words. “Articles purchased with photos are paid at the higher end of the rate scale.” Submissions: Query or submit complete manuscript to Michael Griffin, managing editor. Responds in 4-6 weeks. Guidelines and sample for 9 x 12 SAE with 5 first-class stamps. Box 2180, Waterbury, Connecticut 06722, tel. 2031755-0158.

The Outdoor Press is a weekly publication whose readers live in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and British Columbia. “We stress where to go and how to do it,” says editor Fred Peterson II. “What we look for are grass roots, nitty-gritty stories without armchair adventuring, set in the states we cover, especially eastern Washington and northern Idaho. Articles should be timely. For example, we don’t want August salmon fishing stories in December, or January steelhead stories in March. We no longer purchase stories about such general things as dog training, firearms, fishing tackle or boats.”

Terms: Pays $25-$75 for articles of 100-500 words, on publication for one-time rights. Submissions: Send complete manuscript to Peterson. Responds in 4-6 weeks. Guidelines for SASE; sample copy available. 2012 N. Ruby St., Spokane, Washington 99207, tel. 509/328-9392, fax 509/327-9861.

Western Outdoor News’s target audience is Western sportsmen. Published 9 times a year, “Western Outdoors wants mostly instructional how-to (with some where-to) articles that deal exclusively with boating and fishing in the West–specifically California, Oregon and Washington,” editors say. “Articles offering methods and techniques must apply to Western types of fishing and boating. Where-to-go articles need to describe destinations within our region of coverage.” The editors prefer articles with a news peg and written in the third person with the writer as the reporter.

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Outdoor rec markets seek active writers: here are 6 ways to break into magazines for hikers, bikers and other open-air enthusiasts

Every issue of Rails to Trails profiles an abandoned railroad line converted into a trail for hiking, walking and biking. The cover feature also includes a sidebar with trail facts and trip-planning resources. The ideal writer of this story is “somebody who has a good visual eye and can turn that into words,” says Jennifer Kaleba, the magazine’s editor in chief.

Offer expert reviews and fitness how-to’s. Sports magazines rely on the techno-savvy to help readers find greater enjoyment. The Gear department in Canoe & Kayak includes a review of paddling hardware. Typical how-to’s for Cycle California! Magazine might be “changing from a ten-speed to a single speed, or a tire article that focuses on the nuances of a 29-inch versus a 26-inch tire,” Corral says.

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Competitor, an endurance sports magazine that focuses on running, publishes 11 regional editions. Writers who practice the sport contribute training and nutrition pieces, although they must also interview expert sources. Rebecca Heaton, editorial director, noted that the magazine is particularly interested in fitness trends that are good for cross-training.

Profile an endearing personality. Every sports community loves its movers and shakers. Rails to Trails runs a Q&A of a person who has made an impact in the trail community. Competitor’s closing page profiles “people who have struggled through something; someone passionate about the sport,” Heaton says. In addition, the magazine runs a feature profile of multiple individuals who fit a common theme, like a recent spread on comeback athletes. Pieces on widely recognized athletes have the potential to run in many or all Competitor editions.

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Outdoors NW likes sketches of area people “who are doing great things, or a person who has been transformed by outdoor recreation,” Price says, citing a story about a local individual who participated in a three-week sled race in the North Pole. And don’t rule out women as possible subjects. “There is a resurgence of women discovering outdoor recreation and sports and an I-can-do-this mentality. A lot of women–as well as men–are on our covers,” Price adds.

Appeal to a wide audience. “There are a lot of different disciplines within what we call paddling,” says Jeff Moag, editor of Canoe & Kayak. “We are looking for stories that interest everyone along that continuum.” Recent short articles in the magazine’s front-of-the-book section, Put In, discussed traveling by airplane with a kayak, as well as boating during the economic recession. Moag suggests river access and environmental issues as suitable topics for this department, which is the easiest place to break into the magazine.

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The Rails to Trails member demographics are predominately older males, but the magazine gets passed around to other family members. “We try to be mindful of having stories that don’t just reach our supporting demographic but the member’s family demographic,” Kaleba says. She notes that a recent story about “ROMEOs” (Retired Old Men Eating Out) ran in the same issue as an article about a woman who started a bike maintenance course to promote female cycling.

And don’t forget about kids. Cycle California! Magazine looks for family-friendly stories. “There are a lot more events for kids now–triathlons, bike races. I’d like to run articles that encourage people to be active with their kids,” Corral says.

Describe the heat of the moment. If you’ve had an aha! moment in the field, consider writing a personal essay about it. Paddlers, send it to Canoe & Kayak for consideration in Aquaphile. First-person bike essays published in Adventure Cyclist are often inspirational, but not always. “Sometimes they’re humorous, sometimes more intense,” Deme says. “Focus on a single event, not an entire tour,” he adds.

Take your best shot. Photos are highly important for these publications. “We are a photo-driven magazine, and we try not to use stock photos very much,” Moag says. “Photos are a big part of the selection process.” Canoe & Kayak editors request photos as part of the query package.

“It makes my job a little easier when I don’t have to hunt for pictures,” Outdoors NW’s Price explains. “And it’s always fun if the writer can even be in the picture.” Cycle California! Magazine and Adventure Cyclist also look for original digital photos from writers.

Outdoor sports publications serve as a key resource for an active-lifestyle audience. If you can write like a pro and are knowledgeable about a non-team sport, start blazing the query trail. After all, what could be better than getting paid for your passion?

OUTDOOR SPORTS MARKETS

  • ADVENTURE CYCLIST Bicycle-travel magazine from Adventure Cycling Association. 9 issues/year. Circ.: 43,000. Tips: Queries recommended. Include writing samples, photos. Submission guidelines online. Response: 6 weeks. Payment: 30 cents -45 cents/word; photos: $100-$250 for interior, $500 for cover. Contact: Michael Deme, editor: magazine@adventurecycling.org. www.adventurecycling.org/mag.
  • CANOE & KAYAK Magazine for canoeists, kayakers and rafters. Bimonthly. Circ.: 50,000. Tips: “Describe the proposed story in detail; show how it’s unique.” Send clips, low-res photos. Send complete mss for Aquaphile. Response: 1 week. Payment: 50 cents/word; photos: $75-$350 for interior, $500 for cover. Contact: For features, Aquaphile, Unfiltered and Destinations: Jeff Moag: jeff.moag@source interlink.com. For Put In and Dirtbag Diaries: Joe Carberry: joe.carberry@ sourceinterlink.com. For Gear: Dave Shively: dave.shively@sourceinterlink. com. www.canoekayak.com.
  • COMPETITOR 11 regional editions that focus on running and endurance sports. 10 issues/year. Circ.: 800,000 combined. Tips: Keep query to one paragraph. Queries are forwarded to appropriate regional editor. Response: 1 month. Payment: $50-$400. Contact: Rebecca Heaton, editorial director, rheaton@competitorgroup. com. www.competitor.com.
  • CYCLE CALIFORNIA! MAGAZINE Biking-enthusiast magazine distributed in northern California and northern Nevada. Includes features (750-1,000 words), short articles (250-500 words) and short news stories (50-150 words). 11 issues/year. Circ.: 31,000. Tips: Request submission guidelines via e-mail. Accepts unsolicited mss. Response: 1-2 weeks. Payment: 15 cents/word (half for reprints); photos/artwork: $50 for interior, $125 for cover. Contact: Tracy Corral, publisher/editor: tcorral@cyclecalifornia.com. www.cycle california.com.
  • OUTDOORS NW Resource for outdoor enthusiasts living in the Pacific Northwest. Bimonthly. Circ.: 40,000. Tips: “100 percent of our stories are NW-related; be familiar with the area.” Submission guidelines online. response: 1 month. Payment: $25-$125; photos: $25 for interior, $100 for cover. Contact: Carolyn Price, publisher/editor: editor@outdoorsnw. com. www.outdoorsnw.com.
  • RAILS TO TRAILS Magazine published by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Quarterly. Circ.: 76,000. Tips: Profile and rotating features: Query with theme or story ideas and trail examples. Cover features: Send letter of interest, note region you cover, and send clips. Response: 2 weeks. Payment: 75 cents-$1.25/word. Contact: Karl Wirsing, managing editor: karl@railsto trails.org. www.railstotrails.org.