Update: 30th September 2018. Please use this form to submit editorial pitches and articles. We are currently reviewing our Submission Guidelines and will update this page in due course.
- TABLE OF CONTENTS
- THE STORIES WE PUBLISH
- THE PROPOSALS WE LOOK FOR
- THE TYPES OF STORIES WE PUBLISH
- HOW LONG
- GUIDELINES FOR OUR DIFFERENT STORY FORMATS
- NEWS ITEMS
- GEAR REVIEWS
- EXPERT ANSWERS
- PHOTOGRAPHY, VIDEO AND MULTIMEDIA GUIDELINES
- SEO, KEYWORDS AND OTHER ONLINE POLICIES
- TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS
- PAYMENT & RATES
Many of us have sought out pinnacles in search of something beyond the mediocrity of the masses that surround us. This is why we pursue the outdoors, an alternate lifestyle, adventure and the extreme. We are looking for that acme of achievement that has pushed us to be different. Sometimes, our endeavours have a spiritual goal. In India, where our roots lie, nature and the outdoors have always been symbolic of something much greater than the individual self. We seek precisely that greatness in our stories, that touch of the infinite, that faint glimmer of the purest light beyond.
The Outdoor Journal places a premium on quality journalism. We expect our writers to be master storytellers, possessing the art of narration, combining accuracy, drama and emotion. We look for writing that can make our readers smile and chuckle, or seethe in anger, or be awe-inspired. All in one story. We are looking for pieces with literary value, and writing that is sharp, concise and witty. Our images and video should amaze and inspire an audience that is slowly beginning to understand the idea of an outdoors lifestyle, well lived, with commitment and emotional content (to paraphrase Mark Twight, with due apologies).
THE STORIES WE PUBLISH
Our magazine is targeted at a niche audience, and we expect our stories to come from the same kind of spaces. Subjects include athletes/adventurers/climbers/surfers, undiscovered trails and places, national and wildlife parks, fitness, ecotourism, wilderness conservation, outdoor gear, adventurous experiences, outdoor education and training institutions, trips and expeditions. Our stories are meant to be inspirational and instructional for the doer, and aspirational for the armchair athlete. Our stories are written and shot by journalists with a passion for the outdoors. Non-journalists are welcome to contribute. Successful contributors should expect close collaboration with our editorial staff. Our stories have a protagonist and an antagonist. The antagonist is often nature or the elements. The protagonist may or may not be heroic. But our stories are deeply-researched, well-told, character-led stories. Our stories are defined by an insatiable appetite for the world of adventure at its wildest. Our stories are gripping tales of action, of sights hitherto unseen, of epic adventures and explorations that attain the heights of human achievements and plumb the depths of misery. Our stories are driven by passion and excitement. Our mission is to strive for excellence, wherever we may find it.
THE PROPOSALS WE LOOK FOR
All our stories are commissioned. But if you have one that deserves to be published, write to us. It could be an exposé, the life of an unknown hero, the story of a little-known athlete, dairies of an adventurer, chronicles of dying cultures, communities or fauna, or a bizarre tale of adventure. For example, we could be interested in a photo story of a dying art in the Himalaya, or an anthropological monograph of a little-known community deep in the jungles, or the hunting strategies of a particular snow leopard. If you are convinced that yours is a gripping tale of action that we may have missed, write to us. We’ll be happy to help you craft your pitch.
TYPES OF STORIES WE PUBLISH
It could be an article, a feature, a blog, photo feature, a review, an interview, a despatch, an essay. Or it could be a multimedia piece combining words, pictures, video, and voice. All our stories fall under News, Features, Gear and Travel- four main sections that capture the spirit of our magazine.
Be concise. Our pieces range from 800 to 2000 words. If it is an exceptional story, it could run up to 6000 words, or possibly even more. Our blogs are never more than 400 words. Our reviews would rarely exceed more than 750 words.
HOW TO PITCH
We will quite likely not accept complete articles on spec, except if you are already an established author with a clear voice, skilled in writing narrative and building strong characters. Others should pitch us before writing a piece. For a feature article, craft a 400 to 600 word letter that pulls together all the elements of the piece – the principal characters, the drama, the conflict, and the payoff. Don’t hide anything from us or leave us on a cliffhanger – we’re not your readers, we’re your editors. Make sure that all aspects of the article are clear to us. Google around – there are several online resources available for helping you understand pitch-writing. Aim at a shorter version of an article pitch for other formats, such as reviews and profiles.
As of July 2012, The Outdoor Journal follows, somewhat, The Economist Style Guide. That venerable institution notes: “Scrupulous writers will also notice that their copy is edited only lightly and is likely to be used. It may even be read.” That said, please read any accessible style guide, including those of the Associated Press, the Guardian and others. Glance at the Chicago Style Manual, as well as the submission guides of various lifestyle publications, such as Outside, Wired magazine, Climbing and others.
Think before you write. Keep it simple, and keep in mind George Orwell’s Six Elementary Rules. (Politics and the English Language, 1946):
Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Never use a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Never use the passive where you can use the active.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
The Economist states: “A genuine, familiar or truly English style is to write as anyone would speak in common conversation, setting aside all pedantic and oratorical flourishes, as Hazlitt observed. We favour plain words because pomposity and long-windedness obscure meaning, or reveal the lack of it.”
Also keep in mind that long paragraphs, like long sentences, can confuse readers. “The paragraph”, according to Fowler, “is essentially a unit of thought, not of length; it must be homogeneous in subject matter and sequential in treatment.”
GUIDELINES FOR DIFFERENT STORY FORMATS
News: If it is a news item, it will have to be newsworthy, following the ‘inverted pyramid’ structure and containing who?, what?, when?, where?, why? and how? right on top. Because it is news, it will have to be immediate and now. Speed is important but accuracy is cardinal.
Blogs: Our blogs are quick, interesting and meant to keep our readers engaged everyday. As a blogger, you have the responsibility to corral new readers to our magazine and have the old ones coming back regularly. Our readers appreciate honest information and good judgement.We expect our blogger-columnists have a sense of humour and the ability to laugh at themselves. Our regular blogs, like columns, reveal character and finesse. They have drama and contain a frisson of expectation, like Hitchcock’s thrillers. They should leave you wanting for more.
Feature: Though we carry news items, we are not a newspaper. Our defining character is our (exclusive) feature. A perfect feature is a combination of character study; intense, heroic events; investigative journalism; extremely accurate reporting; all written as first-person accounts or an authentic retelling. What differentiate our stories are the way we approach them; the narrative hook; the perspective; the leitmotif and the treatment of our actors. Compelling and edge-of-the-seat storytelling is at the heart of our features. As we said earlier, our stories should seize imaginations and rattle the lives of an armchair audience. A long feature aimed at capturing the journey of an institution, a person, a community, or the outdoors, delving deep to find truth or resolve a conflict could turn into a long essay (and possibly a book deal in the future for the writer).
Interviews: Our interviews bring out the best of who we talk to. That’s possible if you get under the skin of the character. Our interviews are not question-and-answer sessions, but an unobtrusive way of extracting the real mood and motivations of our subject.
Obituaries/Profiles: We don’t want our obituaries to reflect a dead pallor. Our obituaries celebrate the person’s feats and follies, successes and failures, while revealing little known facts that most readers wouldn’t have known. A complete obituary is impossible without drilling to the core of the subject’s personality, and deploying a repertoire of journalistic skills. Our obituaries are not rest-in pieces but an adventurous distillate of our subject’s personal and professional career, their relationships and the way they thought and lived, so that they can continue in our memories.
Gear Reviews: Our gear reviews are scrupulous and objective. Our reviewers are experts who have a considerable amount of knowledge and experience in their fields, with particular types of gear or equipment. Gear will be tested, fully, in the field, before being reviewed. Water-resistant is not waterproof for us. The gear and equipment we review is tested for its claims, functionality, ingredients, usability, ease of use, life expectancy, storage and its impact on the environment. Our reviews describe the product thoroughly followed by a complete description of the testing, what it was tested for and the conditions under it which it was tested.
Expert Questions & Answers: This is a section where our panel of experts respond to questions, queries and clarifications on adventure, travel, fitness and gear. Questions from the readers will be answered by established experts from the field. If you are a dietician, a musculoskeletal doctor specialising in sports injury, a wilderness medicine expert, or a doctor specialising in high altitude medicine, an expert-level biker, climber, mountaineer, skier, a specialist in water sports or an established and licensed outdoor instructor, please contact us in order to be empanelled on our list.
How-To: This is a section that accurately, concisely and humorously explains how to acquire certain skills – from the basics, like making a meal in the wilds, to belaying safely and properly. How-tos should be accompanied by good illustrations or images, and be written in a simple, stepwise manner.
PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEO
Photography: We are looking for photography that is dramatic, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, thoughtful, newsworthy, or all of the aforementioned. We want action images from the Indian outdoors that has never been seen before in the media, images that freeze readers in wonder and ensure they’ll keep coming back for more.
Cover photography: Cover photography in The Outdoor Journal has a specific purpose – to proselytize the outdoor lifestyle by making it glamorous, attractive and inspiring. Cover images need to represent the very best photography from the field. Dramatic images usually need a creative and knowledgeable use of lighting. Expect to take images that are well-lit, using off-camera strobes, diffusers, umbrellas, gels and other accessories if needed. Our goal is to create studio-style fashion images – in the wilderness. Final images should be tack sharp, higher in contrast and lower in saturation. Film, DSLR or large-sensor cameras are acceptable, lower-range point & shoot cameras usually give unuseable results.
Photo Feature: We welcome story images in both colour and black and white. Put together a selection of shots, close ups and macros, dramatic portraits of characters, faces and bodies. If the story is about an event or circumstances, think like a photojournalist: document injuries, personal items, equipment and gear, environment, landscapes, nature, faraway and grand contrasts between human and natural landscapes, action shots, movement and speed, difficult angles and locations, portraits – intimate and personal in different settings – at home and at play, with family and without, at home, and in the outdoors.
A final selection of your best 60 images should be included in the submission.
Videos and Multimedia: While interviews can be as easy as setting up a camera on a tripod and a mic on the subject, action and other videos will require several shots from different angles and of different types including cutaways, B-roll and more. Follow the guidelines on still photography above for the selection of different video shots we’d like from you. Video submissions must keep in mind the following: When shooting any action or sport, include at least one point of view (POV) / helmet cam shot.
Get useable audio. Videographers should use a good quality audio recorder and mic; with a wind-muff, screen or zeppelin in place for outdoor audio. Rode videomics and similar equipment can also be used. Contact us for any help or questions.Use a lav/lapel or boom mic for interviews.
Get different angles: When shooting any activity, sports or action, get several angles of the same activity to aid cutaways during editing. Use a tripod whenever possible. If handheld, be as steady as possible!
Technical requirements: 720p or 1080p. 24, 25 or 60 fps, or higher for slow-motion. If using DSLRs, watch out for out-of-focus areas. Moiré and rolling shutter are both serious problems to keep a check on. Illustrations and Infographics
We will commission artwork, illustrations and graphics to accompany stories. Artists, graphic or otherwise, must expect to work closely with the story’s author and our editorial staff. Your style may be unique, but it must fit with our editorial agenda and direction. Please send online links to your portfolio. We will not store originals nor return material physically mailed to us.
We usually retain all worldwide rights to all commissioned work, including writing, photography, art and multimedia. We will rarely publish non-commissioned work, unless the circumstances or achievements depicted are exceptional, such as high-quality images of a first ascent of a difficult or remote peak. In such a case, we’d require first publishing rights for a minimum period of time, to not dilute our story’s uniqueness, strength and reach. Please contact us directly if you have further questions.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO), KEYWORDS AND OTHER ONLINE POLICIES
In addition to a possible print run, all our stories will be online, on iPad and smartphone. Therefore all story should follow current SEO guidelines to the best extent possible. Please refer to our SEO manual for more details.
PAYMENT AND RATES
We pay on a case-by-case basis.