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See the best traditional artists in America
For those who read or want to write for the magazine
We welcome new writers and photographers for Early American
because we want to keep a fresh voice and a fresh eye. Here are some
guidelines to keep in mind if you are interested in submitting your work for
We work as much as one year in advance. We like to key our issues to
the season, so if it’s winter, think about writing a story and taking
pictures for next winter.
We believe there are gifted writers and photographers and, rarely,
someone truly skilled at both. In other words, if you can write a truly
excellent story, don’t worry about photography. We will find a photographer
who can match the tone and content of your story. And if you’re a
photographer, we will match your talents with a wordsmith who can turn a
photo-essay into a masterpiece (or so we hope).
We cover a diversity of topics, all centered around America from its
founding through the mid-1800s:
History. For Life
in Early America, we seek an interesting presentation of historic life, an
unusual event, or a different look at a well-known topic (usually keyed to the
publication date). We are sticklers for accuracy, as our magazine circulates
among many museums and historical societies, so you should have some expertise
in your subject. (While we do not use footnotes, we welcome a source list for
readers interested in pursuing the subject in depth.)
Architecture and Decorating.
We are always looking for people who are able to integrate early
American homes, furnishings, and style with modern living. Our readers gain
structural know-how and creative ideas for their own homes, inside and out,
through lavishly illustrated features on both restored period structures and
those newly constructed to resemble the past. If you know about a home (and
decorator) worthy of coverage, let us know.
written for the Eye on Antiques department should include a knowledgeable
discussion of the origins and development of the item or class of items
covered, how they were made and used, how they have survived through the
years, and a hint at current availability and value.
Studio Crafts. We
are interested in the people as well as the history of studio crafts. In our
annual Directory of Traditional American Crafts™, we focus on artisans who
use period methods and/or materials to re-create the work of our
ancestors--the master craftsmen of their time. Side By Side™, a department
in the magazine as well as a show exhibit, compares objects made by modern
craftsmen with their antique counterparts.
conjunction with a house feature, we often include a travel piece on the
geographic region, focusing on its history and the modern events that
celebrate it, other period architecture, places to see, stay, shop, and eat.
Be aware that Early American Life is one of the most treasured and
retained magazines in the world. Many readers collect issues and hold on to
them for years. They know what we’ve already written about, so please query
us before you begin work.
Although we cover academic topics, we don’t want academic writing.
The best sign of a writer’s skill is to be able to present solid information
in a readable, entertaining manner. We appreciate a deft touch with a bit of
humor or word play to keep things interesting. Our average reader is about 55
years old, knowledgeable, well-educated, often experts in the fields you will
be writing about. But they see as a Early American Life as a friend, so the
tone can be conversational.
The best way to familiarize yourself with our style and content is by
reading the magazine. Then write something livelier and better. Our aim is to
continually improve the quality of Early American Life.
Accuracy is the most important thing you deliver to us. We can
guarantee that your work will be scrutinized by experts in the topic about
which your write, so please be sure every date is accurate, every name spelled
correctly, every address and telephone number verified.
Be specific. Don’t say, “The current value is about ten bucks,”
but “A similar nutmeg grater sold at Christie’s in January 2002 for
Do not send us recipes that you have not tried yourself. (We’ll try
them, too, but we need at least some hope of succeeding.)
Stories for Early American Life should be just long
enough to get from the beginning to the end--that is, content should dictate length. Don’t add
words to make a story seem more meaningful. On the other hand, don’t give
short shrift to a story that demands in-depth coverage.
A one-page story in Early American Life, such as Worth
Seeing, runs about 750 words. A typical feature may run 2,500 words. Note that it’s
always easier for an editor to make a story shorter, so if anything, err on
the long side. Never, however, go more than 10 percent beyond the length an
We have high photographic standards because one of the greatest
strengths of Early American Life is its visual appeal. Most of our photography
is assigned to professionals, but we are always on the lookout for excellent
work. We do not use snapshots and we rarely use “art” photography, that
is, photos where style dominates content. We expect the photo to be part of
the story and to tell part of the story. Every photo should have a center of
interest that illustrates why it is included.
From the technical side, it goes without saying that images should be
sharp, well-lit (which, for interiors, usually means evenly lit), properly
exposed, and properly framed (although we often crop them). We use a lot of
medium format transparencies (our cover in particular), although 35mm slides
are often acceptable. These days we’ve come to prefer digital photographs.
The minimum resolution we can use is 3.3 megapixels. We would prefer 5
megapixels or more of true image resolution (don’t resize your image larger)
to allow us some room to crop. In any case, we want to see the raw photos and
let our artists crop and correct them as necessary.
In the past, Early American Life has not used photos featuring people.
We plan to change that, but we don’t want simple portraits or headshots. For
example, we would like to see a skilled craftsperson at work. Most
importantly, we would like to see a variety of shots--photos featuring people,
interiors, exteriors, close-ups, and distant shots. In people pictures, we’d
like to see faces, but also we like to see photos that intentionally don’t
show faces, say a the back of a fieldworker to put a landscape in perspective.
We need releases for any photos that include identifiable people or
protected sites. We will supply the release forms to you as necessary.
Our experience is that writers and photographers want to be paid for
their work, and if you work for us you will be paid. We pay when we accept your article for publication and
you have invoiced us for your work. If we assign you a story but we do not accept the piece
you submit to us, we will pay you a kill fee.
Our rates depend on your skill and our relationship. To be honest, this
is not the New Yorker. Our rates are not the highest in the industry, but we
will try to reward you fairly for your work. Payment for unsolicited
manuscripts will be negotiated upon acceptance. We would estimate $500 for a
first feature from a new writer, more if you are an experienced, skillful
writer. If we assign a story to you, we will negotiate the rate before you
We buy all rights exclusively for the six-month period in which an
issue of Early American Life remains on sale. We don’t want your story
appearing someplace else while we’re still trying to sell our magazine.
After six months, our rights become non-exclusive, so you can re-sell your
work to another publication (magazine, book, or whatever you choose).
If you have an idea
for a story or would like to suggest a home to be featured in Early
American Life, please contact the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also write to us at Early American Life, Post Office Box
221228, Shaker Heights, Ohio 44122-0996, but please plainly mark
"Editorial Query" on your envelope.
We do read
unsolicited manuscripts but prefer that you query us first. If you wish us to
return an unsolicited manuscript, please enclose a self-addressed envelope
bearing sufficient postage for its return.