September is finally here and we are off to a great start! Brandon Mason and I just returned from a Caribou hunt in Canada and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. I harvested a good bull with my bow and Brandon harvested two bulls, one with a rifle and the other with a bow.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to harvest some great Caribou bulls and we have had the pleasure of sharing them on Eastman’s Hunting TV. So it only feels right to start this hunting season with a short video documenting some of those past hunts.
As we get deeper into our hunts this fall, there’s lots of things to remember when trying to get published. Here’s a great article by Eastman’s Staff Writer, Jason Peak on how to maximize your 15 Minutes of Fame – I hope it helps you out. As always, I look forward to seeing your 2014 trophies!
15 Minutes of Fame
By Jason Peak
These journals would not be possible without you, the dedicated hunters who want to share their stories with others. We thank you for taking the time in the field to capture the moment with great images and once back home, to pen compelling stories for the rest of us. That said, we hold true to the Eastmans’ Publishing mission statement hanging on the conference room wall, “We strive to help our audience become more skilled and ethical hunters while expanding their knowledge, appreciation and awareness…” This article is presented in that vein, as we want you to become more skilled, knowledgeable and aware of the process that awaits you if you decide to take the first step in getting your story published. That goes not just for our publication but any publication you choose.
In the end we are all human, and though we do our absolute best to keep open lines of communication and avoid errors we are certainly not above them and regrettably know they will occur. With the amount of content we receive and what it takes to get just one of these magazines built in less than a month‘s time, something will inevitably fall though the cracks but you have our promise we will keep that as close to zero as humanly possible.
So your hunt is now over and you have an animal tagged that you feel is worthy of making it into a magazine. Maybe you are one of the extremely lucky hunters that put an animal on the ground so exceptional that it could make the cover of the most prestigious of magazines. And to top it all off, the story behind the animal is so unique that you get goose bumps telling it to everyone you know and even folks you don’t!
But where do you go from here? You get on all your social media pages and post as many photos as possible and wait for the offers to roll in, right? Or do you do a little homework, find a bunch of email addresses of various magazine editors and start shipping it off to anyone and everyone? And once you do make a connection, should you keep trying to get your story into other magazines? And how much should you demand in exchange?
Gone are the days of reputable magazines paying for hunting stories and a single hunt making multiple magazine covers. In order to play your hand to maximize the odds of getting your 15 minutes of fame, consider a few points from the industry’s perspective and you will definitely understand how to better market your story.
The Eastmans’ Way
When I first thought about writing for hunting publications, I thought it would be easy. Tag something big, tell the story, and then submit it to a bunch of publications to see if I could get a bite. That was the worst thing I could have done and I learned a lot of valuable lessons.
Some folks never responded. Others responded, but never made it clear how the process worked. And some flat-out ran my stories without even telling me. But the thing that stuck with me most was how Eastmans’, by far the biggest and most distributed publication of its kind, was willing to deal with me on a handshake and my word. No contracts. No promises of things to come. No funny stuff.
I asked myself why it was that the most impressive DIY western hunting magazine would go about business in such a way, and then it hit me. Eastmans’ is one of the pioneers of telling its members’ stories, and they obviously invented the process of submitting articles to magazines. Because they have been doing it for so long, they know what works and what does not. They really only have one rule – their word is their bond. If Eastmans’ likes your story, they let you know and talk through the process. There are no hidden agendas or sneaky things going on. Ask the Eastmans’ editor a question and he’ll flat out tell you the truth. You may not like the answer, but you will not be bluffed or snowed.
Once I learned how the industry worked, and what editors in general saw as good content, it became easier to not only plan my articles better but also learn how to protect myself from having my content show up in places where I didn’t want it to go. Below are some of the hard lessons to be considered when considering the best way to get your story published.
Develop a Plan
If you have a favorite publication or one that you have dealt with in the past, submit your story and images to them and be done with it. There is no reason to shop your story around if you know which publication you want to target and don’t want it being run anywhere else. But if you do not have a favorite publication or you have a couple in mind that you would like to submit to, you need to make sure you protect yourself and your content from being used without your permission.
Also consider the fact that not all magazines are equal. There are several different sources of information related to circulation and readership. Any competent and trustworthy editor will share that information with you if you cannot find it on your own. Do you simply want to maximize your take regardless of how many people see your story? Or do you want to have it circulated to as many readers as possible?
What’s in it for me?
Consider what you would like in exchange for your submission. If you just want to see your story in print, then this is not a big concern. But if you are looking to parlay your story into something more, do a little research to curb your expectations. It is not financially feasible for publications to pay for every story they run, so don’t expect a bunch of cash to be thrown at you. If there are promises made about money, make sure you have a specific understanding of when you will be paid and how much. Iron out the expectations and document it well in advance.
More than likely the publications offer gear in exchange for the story, which is the Eastmans’ way. Depending upon a lot of different criteria, the story could earn some pretty significant swag. A cover story justifies more gear in the package than one in the middle of the magazine. If you look at past issues of certain publications, you can get a rough idea of what you might expect for your specific story.
First and foremost, magazines want exclusive stories. There is no reason for a magazine subscriber to pay to read a story in a magazine that they can get for free from some blog or other online source. As a magazine subscriber myself, I get frustrated when I pick up a magazine and read an article that was run in another publication that I read three months ago. Why do I, as a subscriber, want to pay to read something in one magazine that was printed in another that I already have?
The same is true about online content. Be very careful and selective of what information you put on the internet. If you put your best photos on your social media page, and follow that up with a summary of the story, it can spread like wildfire. That waters down your marketability to publications in several ways. Once you put something up on the internet it can be used by anyone. There are professional photographers that fight all the time with folks that steal their content only to call it their own. And if someone gets your content and runs it in their magazine, you have just lost a great amount of your ability to be selective in where the article goes and what you can get in return.
Finally, be careful when you are using certain tag application services. Read the fine print on everything you agree to when signing up with these services, as there may be some surprises. For example, one such service retains all rights to your story and photos should you kill a great animal on one of the tags they helped you draw. Theoretically, they could hold your story and images hostage and run them only as they see fit, even in their own publication if they have one – despite the fact that you did all the work. These services obviously want to market the fact that their clients are successful, but asking that a hunter give up any rights to the story and images goes a bit too far.
Rights and responsibilities
Remember that unless you have a copyright on your materials, once you provide the content to an editor it is theirs to do with as they wish. You do not have any control over the formatting, what photos are used, the layout or the content. Once submitted, you in essence lose control over whether and how your content is used. If there is something in the story that the magazine staff doesn’t like, they can take it out. Same with a photo, if there is an image that the magazine editor does not like, it does not make the final layout.
There are also magazines that request any submissions be accompanied by a contract executed by the author giving permission to use the story and images. However, those contracts can go a bit too far. While many of these written agreements are simply forms that ask for permission to use the story and images, I recently received a call from one hunter submitting a story to a magazine and received a pretty unconscionable contract in return for her to sign. She emailed the agreement to me, and after reading through it I felt that it was more of a one-sided contract that did nothing more than make the magazine the owner of the story and images. This agreement went so far as to make the author of the piece ask permission to use her own images even on her own social media page. She has plans to write a book in the future of all her hunting travels, but had she signed the agreement she arguably would not be able to use any of her own images or the story without permission from the magazine.
Submitting to multiple publications
Okay, so you don’t have a favorite publication that you want to submit to and forget about it, rather you want to try and get your great story and unique images out to as many publications as possible to maximize your chances of getting into any magazine. There are a few things that you can do in order to make sure you protect yourself against someone just taking your submission and publishing it without your permission. Follow these helpful tips and you can get your story out there, but at the same time retain some control over whether it is run in the type of publication you want.
First, do not send the full story to an editor that you do not already know or already have a relationship with. Let the editor know that you are only providing a small summary with just the highlights, but the full story will follow if the editor requests more. Send nothing more than a 250 word summary (editors think in terms of word count) but clearly state you are submitting an idea of what’s to come.
Next, only send low-resolution images with your submission. That way, the editor has an idea about the quality of the photos you will be submitting but it won’t eat up too much space. More importantly, this causes more interaction with the editor and virtually eliminates the chance that the magazine will publish your piece after your initial submission without you knowing and without having further communication about what is expected. Remember, once you email something it arguably can be used in any fashion. So even if the editor does not like the story that may not prohibit the publication from using your images in any other fashion they wish.
Finally, always make sure to let publications know that you have submitted to more than one magazine. This goes more along the lines of your integrity than anything else. If you are trying to get the story into more than one magazine, be honest about it. If it has already been slated to run somewhere else or has already shown up in another publication already, let the editor know. The editor may not run the story, but you will certainly not destroy a relationship that could prove valuable down the road. Although I don’t have any proof, I get the sense that many publications keep a mental note of folks that have not been completely transparent. Don’t end up on that list.
For those that are anxious to get a story and photos out for the world to see, the initial inclination is to blast it out to as many publications as possible and hope that someone picks it up and runs it quickly. That is the worst thing to do if the goal is to have the story published in the largest and most popular publications. If you are the type of hunter that is willing to be patient and let little bucks or bulls walk for the chance at a great animal, then don’t make the mistake of submitting your story to every publication you can. Patience is rewarded on the mountain, and the same can be said in the context of story submissions.
Take a look behind the scenes of any large, hunting publication and you will see that many of the issues take months to plan out. That is why they are so good. The problem with shotgunning your story out to as many publications as you can is that some of the smaller publications need less lead time to run a submission because they don’t have the content for several issues already lined up. Again, this can cause your story to run in a smaller publication, but had you been patient and selective in where your submissions went, you may have been rewarded with a much bigger broadcast.
Testimonial from a Reader
I lay awake at night, my heart filled with utter joy. I was afraid to fall asleep in case this was all a dream; if it was, I did not want to wake up. My heart was racing as I replayed the events of the day, everything from the hike in, to the squeeze of the trigger that landed me a once-in-a-lifetime monster bull. He was beautiful and I wanted to share this day with everyone I knew.
As soon as my husband and I reached civilization we began calling and sending pictures to family, friends and anyone we knew who would share in our excitement. I was thrilled as I had accomplished something truly amazing and my hunger for wanting to share this with others stretched further than immediate acquaintances. I wanted everyone to know that with hard work, sheer determination, and a little bit of luck anything is possible. More importantly I had harvested a magnificent animal that deserved to be admired by others who would understand and respect his beauty and purpose. I would have shared my adventure with the world if I could have. I asked my husband if he thought any hunting magazines would be interested in our story. He thought they would and said we should send out emails when we got home.
My husband and I talked about which companies we should send my pictures and story to. I knew the season had brought great success to many other hunters and so I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone would even be interested in the story and my bull. We decided DIY magazines that believed in fair chase would be my best option. I was so nervous with anticipation as we sent out pictures and the story of the trip to three different publications! Would anyone like it?
I woke up the next morning to replies back to our email. I was ecstatic! Two companies had emailed back; one requested further information. The second was Eastmans’ Hunting Journal. They expressed great interest in my story and then sent a second email stating they would happily share my story in their magazine barring my story being printed anywhere else. I was shocked – Eastmans’ liked my story! Eastmans’ is both of our favorite hunting magazine and the one publication I was most excited about. I was honored!
Weeks later the third magazine we had sent our info to had emailed back, “Great bull!” That was the last time we ever heard from them. Months went by with our only communication being with Eastmans’ Publishing. Then one day the first company emailed us and told us they wanted to run our story in an upcoming issue. We declined the offer because we had made the decision to have my story printed in Eastmans’.
My excitement was cut short when I received an email from Eastmans’ letting me know they couldn’t print my story because another magazine had printed it in theirs. I was shocked! Another company putting my story in their publication had broken my word with Eastmans’.
The third company that had only sent one email to us was the one that went to print. Technically that company did nothing legally wrong, but I believe ethically they should have communicated better with us. Unknowingly, by sending the pictures and story we gave our consent to print the story. However, I had no idea they even liked my story from the lack of interest in that one email we received from them. I was so embarrassed by the whole situation. What should have been a happy moment in my life was disappointment. I was devastated.
I decided I wanted to share this mishap so others may have a better understanding of submitting a story and won’t make the same mistakes I did. My advice to others that wish to share their story is as follows: decide who will best represent you and your story and who will make you the most excited by printing your story?
After deciding that, only send your information to them. Then wait. If you don’t hear back from them, contact them again. If they are a professional company they will respond honestly. You have to understand that by sending your complete story and pictures to a company you are consenting for them to print it. They are under no obligation to contact you about it after you send it. Note: The author chose to remain anonymous and we respect the right to do so.
The best lessons in life are those learned through the mistakes of others. I have made several mistakes in submitting articles over the years and I hope some of them will help others learn how to better market and protect themselves. The mountains can be very generous in bestowing upon hunters memories that last a lifetime, and if the mountains choose you as one of the recipients I hope these tips help maximize your chances of grabbing your 15 minutes of fame.
For more on this topic visit the 15 Minututes of Fame Q&A With Guy Eastman Blog:
Editor’s Note: Visit the submission page at Eastmans.com for detailed information on the submission process. For expanded content see or subscribe to the digital version of the journals.