|Who writes for Sea Kayaker? In a word, and as a rule, kayakers. The only real qualification we have for our contributors is that they have an experience, an idea or an expertise that our readers would find interesting or useful. We do occasionally hear from folks who write for a living, but if they don’t have some personal connection with sea kayaking there isn’t a place for them in our pages. More often we hear from kayakers who have an idea for an article, but little or no experience with writing. Those are the folks we like to hear from. We can coach a kayaker with a good story to tell or a technique to share through the writing much easier than we can coach a writer through the ins and outs of kayaking.
The majority of unsolicited submissions to the magazine come from kayakers who have written about a trip they’ve taken. The quality of the writing varies greatly and the most common advice we offer is to focus on the details. The writer of a travel narrative is serving as the eyes and ears (and even the nose) of the reader and collecting the impressions that will best convey the experience to the reader. Ideally, the process of writing about a trip begins during the trip. We occasionally hear from potential contributors before they head out on a trip, and we always suggest they carry a waterproof notebook on deck and take brief notes throughout the day, then write in more detail in a journal in the evening. The notes and journal entries are invaluable when it comes time to write for publication. It’s always wise to study a magazine’s style and to check it’s guidelines for submissions.
Technical articles come to us from a wide range of kayakers. If we decide to assign an article, on say paddling technique, we’ll look for an instructor who has a lot of experience putting techniques into words. Some of our rescue techniques come to us from kayakers who spend a lot of time playing in the water and develop new ways to deal with getting capsized kayakers out of the water and back into their boats.
When someone proposes a destination article to us, we ask about their background in paddling the area they want to write about. It’s best if they live in the area, but if that’s not the case, they need to have made many trips to the area during all times of the paddling season.
Gear reviews don’t come to us unsolicited. They are assigned projects and go out only to kayakers we know who have reliable skills, analytical abilities and integrity.
Most of our safety articles come from those who have been involved in an incident. A first-person account is the most engaging and allows our readers to see how an accident unfolds. Some kayakers are eager to give the kayaking community the benefit of their experience but may feel some embarrassment in going public. If that’s an issue, we always offer to conceal identities.
I hope this brief explanation of how we work encourages more of you to submit articles to Sea Kayaker. We can be slow to respond to email, especially during our deadline weeks, but we do respond to all submissions, and if we can’t use your story we’ll let you know why. We hope to hear from you!