Writers’ Guidelines: Updated 2015
Are you a local writer who’s interested in topics that relate to family life in the Chesapeake region? Send an introductory e-mail to our editor. Please include a specific story idea, a list of previously published work and one writing clip. Send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Who We Are
We are a media company that publishes a monthly magazine, annual guides, e-newsletters and a website. Our free, monthly parenting magazine covers Anne Arundel and Calvert counties, Howard County, Bowie and Upper Marlboro areas of Prince George’s County, and the Kent Island area in Queen Anne’s County in Maryland.
Who Our Readers Are
We have a circulation of about 40,000 with an estimated 90,000 readers. They get the magazine at schools, libraries, doctors’ offices, grocery stores and toy stores. Our readers are parents (mostly moms) of children from the cradle to college age. They’re well educated and strive to do the best for their children even as they juggle busy lives and try to watch their budgets. They tend to pick up Chesapeake Family initially for the calendar of monthly activities and the sections on health and education. We also have an increasing web presence that now exceeds our print audience. Many print stories are used online, though fresh content is added to the website daily.
What We’re About
Our goal is to make our readers’ everyday lives easier by anticipating the sort of information they will need, identifying and sifting through available resources, and gathering it for them so they can just read it and go. We strive to present unique stories that readers won’t find in any other local publication.
Our Writing Approach
Our readers may have only 5 minutes over a slice of toast to glance at the magazine so we want to use an easy-to-read, accessible tone but also pack plenty of punch into the few words we use. Through our pages and on our website, we want our readers to feel understood, supported and empowered to make healthy parenting and life choices and learn something they don’t already know.
What We’re Looking For
- We are looking for professional writers who are conscientious and fact check their work.
- Our articles are short (about 1,000 words for a feature and 750 for a column) so pick your main theme and develop it well. Know the main point you want the reader to take away and present it clearly. Look for a different angle or fresh perspective that readers won’t already have seen or know.
- In most cases, we would expect a writer to talk to three local sources considered authorities on the topic at hand.
- Our magazine serves readers outside of Annapolis (see Who We Are above) so be sure to talk to authorities or other parents as approrpriate and include resources in other areas as well.
- We generally do not run first person or personal essays unless they are unusually compelling.
- We are also particularly in the market for local travel stories, “local” being everywhere in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Delaware and Pennsylvania. While features on other locations are a possibility, we try to stay as local as possible.
- Consider other ways to show parts of a story, through photos, video or podcasts of part of a compelling interview.
Some tips to help when interviewing and writing:
- Be an objective interviewer and writer. Be careful not to inadvertently insert your own opinion as fact when writing. Prepare with questions that will draw out interesting, colorful answers.
- Be specific, including concrete “takeaway” points, ideas or information a reader can put to use immediately.
- Perform all the legwork for the reader and list local resources, answering the obvious questions: Where? When? How much? Whom can I call? What’s the number? Consider that you are doing the homework for the reader so they have the information they need.
- Where appropriate, use local, real-life situations and people to illustrate your topic. Colorful or memorable anectdotes can make a good lead or closing.
- Include a suggested headline and break the story into subheads to help with flow and understanding. Sidebars are helpful ways to break out information into chunks that can stand alone.
What We Pay
For assigned articles, our pay range is $75-200, with articles that require more research at the higher rate. We pay around $35 for reprints but note that we try not to overlap coverage with other parenting publications in the region and don’t often use reprints. Authors willing to localize their reprints with interviews with local parents and experts can expect more. We do not, as a rule, pay for travel expenses or for mileage; however, we will do our best to assist you in getting press tickets or rates for events/locations/etc.
Articles are subject to editing for space and clarity. We pay a kill fee of $25 for stories cut due to space requirements or may hold one for a future issue; stories cut because they do not meet CF’s standards will receive no compensation. Should a story not meet the editor’s satisfaction, though, she will do her best to work with you to make the story acceptable for inclusion.
Stories moved to online-only status due to space will receive their full payment. Chesapeake Family buys the rights for print and online/digital use.
Deadlines and Submissions
Articles are due on the 15th of the month, two months before the publication issue (so articles for the July issue are due on May 15, for example). Please submit your article with a creative title/headline suggestion and 1-2 sentence tagline to run at the end. Articles may be submitted as a Word attachment and/or embedded in an e-mail. Attach a separate invoice that includes your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, social security number, the date, title of article and agreed-upon rate.
We will consider unsolicited articles, but we have very limited space. We encourage writers, especially local ones, who feel strongly that they have a story for Chesapeake Family to send a query/outline.
Preferred method of contact is via e-mail at email@example.com.