One of my jobs as the associate editor of Handwoven is to answer most inquiries about submitting article proposals. I typically get at least two queries a week from folks asking me for the process—what do I need, what format, how many photos, etc. In my previous life as an educator, I learned that if one person is asking a question, there are probably at least five others who are wondering the same thing but don’t want to ask. So, for all those who don’t want to ask, here’s a handy guide to submitting articles to Handwoven.
An article proposal should have four things:
• A brief description of the topic and why it would be of interest to our readers
• An outline of the proposed article
• A one-paragraph writing sample
• Photo information
Easy, right? Well, yes and no. There are some pitfalls that first-time contributors can come across. Here are a few of the most common and how to avoid them.
Not Doing the Homework
Read articles in back issues. Think about your idea and where and how it would fit. Is it something that would work well in a specific department such as Idea Gallery, Spotlight, or Endnotes? Or is it more of a special feature article about a specific technique or loom maintenance tips? Read similar articles in back issues and pay attention to the style and the content. What can you bring that’s new, AND how can you make it fit within the canon of Handwoven? (If you don’t see anything like what you want to publish, shoot us an email and let us know your general idea before submitting a proposal.)
Not Fleshing Out the Idea (or Having too Much to Say)
It takes about 500 to 600 words and 2 images to fill a single page of an article. Most of our feature articles and departments are 2 to 3 pages, so make sure you’re able to write 1,000 to 1,500 words on your topic. On the other end of the spectrum, we sometimes get proposals for articles that are far too long to publish. No matter which way you might fall, outlining will help you figure out whether you need to flesh out your article or reduce the scope of the story you want to tell.
Not Knowing Your Audience
Handwoven’s audience is diverse in that there are weavers of all skill levels. As such, we like our articles to be as accessible as possible to as much of our audience as possible. This doesn’t mean that you have to spell out everything and define warp and weft or that articles can’t deal with technical topics, but try to keep within the informal magazine style. (If you want examples of this type of writing, check out The Draft department as written by Madelyn van der Hoogt or Daryl Lancaster’s Idea Gallery in the Nov/Dec 2019 issue.)
Not Planning on Photos
Do you have photos to accompany your article or know where to get them? For a 2-page article, you’ll need to include 5 or 6 photos or places where we can source the photos (museums, archives, etc.). While we can take some photos at our photo shoots or source photos online, Long Thread Media is small, and we’re limited on what we can do in-house. If you want to show a special technique step-by-step, you probably want to take the photos yourself. If you don’t have a fancy camera, don’t worry. Most smart phones take high resolution photos. Make sure your lighting is good and that your photos aren’t blurry. Do not use a flash. (And if your hands are visible, make sure your fingernails are clean.) Photos also need to be high resolution (300 dpi/ppi) at a size large enough to print at a decent size. Don’t know what that means? Just make sure your image is at least 1 MB, and you should be fine.
Follow these general rules and if you have any questions, please do ask! We love hearing your ideas and new voices. You can read the full submission guidelines for both projects and articles here. I hope to hear from you soon!