Submissions and writers guidelines
To put our guidelines in a nutshell: We publish material we like to read about the area we live in. We’re not interested in it if it’s routine and boring, or if it’s not about this area.
We serve Central Colorado and the San Luis Valley. On a map, that’s a swath from Leadville and Fairplay south to the New Mexico line. It’s the counties of Alamosa, Chaffee, Conejos, Costilla, Custer, Lake, Mineral, Rio Grande, and Saguache, along with the adjacent parts of Fremont, Gunnison, Huerfano and Park counties.
Everything we publish should be relevant to this area — its culture, economy, politics, issues, people, history, etc.
We want informed and passionate writing that has an edge — a point of view and something to say. We want articles, reviews, essays, profiles, and the like, along with related photos and artwork. At the moment, we are not soliciting fiction.
The best way to understand Colorado Central is to look at the magazine. There’s a sample edition in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) here, as well as an archive of articles we’ve published over the years. We like it if our contributors are also subscribers.
We want good grammar and logical construction, but we don’t want to be stuffy. Think of us as trying to be casual but presentable.
Please avoid unnecessary profanity, obscenity, scatology, and the like — we want Colorado Central to be a welcome guest in people’s homes. To put this another way, our mothers read the magazine, and we’d like them to continue.
We’re not a newspaper, let alone a newspaper of record, and we do not pretend to objectivity. We want you to write from a point of view. We do expect you to be accurate and to be reasonably fair.
What we buy
Feature Articles. These range from 600 to 2,500 words. Please query if you’re planning something that’s a lot of work — we wouldn’t want to have to turn something good down just because another writer got here first.
If you’re writing a relevant book, we’re interested in extracts, abridgments, or condensations. These can help build an audience for your book while providing us with good writing.
Briefs. These run up to 400 words. We like them witty.
Reviews. We run at least one review every month, usually from 400 to 700 words. Generally they concern books, but we do review relevant videos and music from local artists. Please query on book reviews, so that we don’t end up with two reviews of the same book. We do limit compensation for book review to $30.
We’re interested in a book if it’s about our area, concerns issues (tourism, grazing, etc.) relevant to our area, or comes from a local author, no matter what the topic.
Essays. Anything from 600 to 2,500 words is welcome. This is where passionate and informed writing is really important.
Profiles. Often we publish a profile of a local artist, sculptor, poet, musician, potter, or similar creative types whose work is available in our territory. These run from 800 to 1,200 words, and we must have photos — some of the artist, and some of the artist’s work.
You should query about long feature articles and book reviews.
We’d like to follow the Golden Rule and treat writers the way we like to be treated with our own submissions to other publications, but there seems to be a gap between our noble intentions and the sordid reality of too much work and too little time.
When we receive material, we try to acknowledge that immediately (usually by however it came in — email if that, a postcard if it was mailed).
Our acknowledgement should provide a date when you should hear more from us — a report on whether we’re accepting it and when we’ve scheduled it, or if we want revisions, or if we figure it won’t work.
If you don’t hear from us by that deadline, please feel free to nag.
We figure it’s a writer’s job to know the subject, and the editor’s job to know the audience.
We want our writers to speak in their own voices about the things they know, but that still means their work must be edited — that’s the difference between a magazine and a bulletin board.
Many pieces will run with minor editing, but others will require considerable work on our end. If substantial editing is needed, we’ll send you a copy of the edited version for your approval.
Digital: We prefer that submissions be attached to email (email@example.com) as RTF (Rich Text Format) documents. Most modern word-processors will produce RTF under the “Save as …” menu. RTF is standard across all common computer platforms (Windows, Macintosh, Linux), and it is relatively immune to viruses, etc.
If for some reason RTF is impossible for you to produce, then please give us plain text in the body of the email.
We have worked with many document formats, and we’ll try if necessary in the future, but we really prefer RTF.
Disc: For security or other reasons, some people prefer to mail discs. Send a CD-ROM (RTF or plain text format in either case). We do not return disks.
Please see photo guidelines if you intend to send digital photos either by email or CD-ROM with your article.
Paper: All material must be typed. Since we scan typewritten submissions, the cleaner (black text and white paper), the better. Follow normal standards for manuscripts — decent margins, your name and address and other particulars on the first page, numbered pages, etc.
Mail manuscripts to: Editor, Colorado Central Magazine, P.O. Box 946, Salida CO 81201-0946.
In general, we purchase these rights to writing, photos, or artwork:
1) First publication in a magazine or newspaper of general circulation in our area — in other words, first regional serial rights.
2) The right to use the work in promotion of our magazine.
3) The right to make the material available on our web site.
4) The right to use your work in an anthology. If we ever publish such a book, you would receive standard proportionate royalties.
All other rights are yours, and we encourage you to sell your work everywhere you can — we believe writers should make lots of money, although our magazine isn’t much help to you in that regard.
You do NOT need our permission to resell work that we’ve published in Colorado Central. We like it if there’s some mention that it was first published in Colorado Central, since that helps promote the magazine. But it’s not a requirement.
We use a standard agreement for material we buy.
Our publishing schedule varies — we mail the magazine the last week of each month.
As a rule, the 5th of the month prior works as a deadline — i.e., March 5 for the April edition.
Earlier is better, of course.
Digital is best! Minimum size of 8″ wide at 175 dpi. If need be, we can work with just about any common graphic format: black-and-white prints, color prints, 35-mm negatives either mono or color, and 35-mm slides.
We try to return your material as quickly as possible — we scan it within a day or two, then send it back the same way it came.
(That is, if you just mailed it, then we just mail it back. If you sent it insured by express service, we send it back insured via express service).
We cannot be responsible for this material, so we recommend that you send us prints, which can be replaced, rather than negatives or slides, which can’t be replaced.
If you’re sending photos electronically, either via email or disk, this seems to work best:
At least 5″ x 7″, 200 dpi, JPEG or TIFF, at least 16-bit color or 256 shades of gray. Please ask if you have questions.
Line art seems to work best — pen-and-ink, pencil, charcoal, etc. We’re interested in everything from political cartoons to covers.
Again, we try to return it right away, as soon as we scan it. And again, we cannot be responsible for original material. We don’t want to lose track of it, but we can’t swear that we won’t.
Not nearly enough. We pay 5 cents a word, and $10 per photo, on publication. That means that if it’s in the October edition, you get paid sometime in late October.
We’d like to do better, but this is a pretty marginal operation. We hope it grows so that we can do better.
When you get your check, you’ll get two copies of our standard publication agreement. One is for your records. You should fill out the other one (we need your Social Security number), sign and return it.
About the author: We like to end each article with a short, preferably witty, paragraph that identifies the author, as with “Jane Doe lives near Fairplay and took up writing because she was making too much money waiting tables.”
Pen names: We’re not real fond of them, but we realize that they are sometimes a necessity. We need to know your real name, though.
Privacy: Our rule is to be reluctant about revealing anything more about our writers than what they want the world to know about them.
However, if we’re dealing with an editor who wants to buy a reprint (remember, those rights are yours, not ours), we figure you’ll want us to put that editor in direct contact with you, so we’ll provide a phone number or the like — unless you tell us not to do it.
Copies: Sometimes you’ll want the appropriate copy of the magazine to go to people you talked to in the course of writing an article.
We’re glad to help you out there if you’ll give us the names and addresses when you submit the article. It’s a lot cheaper for us to mail them when the other magazines go out than to mail them separately later.
If you’re a subscriber, we can send you five copies of any edition that has your work. We figure you’ll hand them out to friends and relatives, and they might be so impressed that they’ll buy subscriptions.
No set of guidelines can anticipate every eventuality, so feel free to ask. Email is best, but we do take snail mail, even phone calls (afternoons on business days are the best time to call).