There are a couple right ways you can submit an article if you are wanting to BECOME a gunwriter. Even a wrong-way submission can work but I’ve learned a few tricks over the years.
First off, understand that a gunwriter is nothing special. You don’t have to be a college professor, former special forces operative or an African professional hunter. A lot of “gun people” know a lot about guns or most often a specific type of firearm or cartridge or how to hunt a certain animal. One of the best gunwriters I know once told me that just about every shooter or hunter has at least one good article in them. The hard part is getting it out of them.
Contact an editor by e-mail or letter with an idea. (You could try to call them but good luck with that.) This idea submission is called a query and should contain a brief and concise explanation of the article you want to write. For starters, introduce yourself and give a short – several sentence background about you. In the second paragraph tell them what you want to write about – three to four sentences. And in the third and final paragraph tell them when you can deliver and about the facts, circumstances, photos, charts and diagrams you will use to support the article.
Why so short? Most editors are over worked and don’t have time to read a two page letter that is not a legal document from their wife’s attorney or information about the next great adventure some company is sending them on.
If you cannot get their attention and spark an interest in three paragraphs, they are probably not going to be interested in your idea. Readers won’t either. Most folks that first try to write, try to be too eloquent and Hemingway like. Remember, editorial space in magazines is limited. Your text – and query – needs to be to the point.
Finally, you must either write about what you know OR cover a topic from a journalistic standpoint. With the latter it still helps a great deal if you have personal experience to relate to the topic you are covering.
Part 3 will deal with the blind submission of a complete article. In the mean time you might want to check out the web site of outdoor writer John Phillips. He may have penned – typed – more articles than any other outdoor or gun writer. He has a method and some good tips on his site about gett’n in the bidness.