At SAIL we write, edit and design for everyone who sails—aboard a one-design boat or an offshore racer, aboard a daysailer on a tiny lake or a cruiser crossing great oceans and great distances. Our how-to and technical articles concentrate on the techniques of sailing, or the many aspects of naval architecture and construction, boat systems, and gear. Our features emphasize the joy and rewards of the sailing life. Many of our favorite features are simultaneously entertaining, practical and instructive. SAIL's readers want to know everything about sailing. And they want to see it, too. Some photographs printed in SAIL are there because they illustrate one point clearly; others are there because they contain a universe of beauty. Our writers are encouraged to also be photographers and to think about photography while they think about writing.
A popular article length is 1,500-3,000 words, though it takes a strong concept to merit maximum length. Most stories in SAIL are shorter, and very, very short pieces are prized. Developing writers should pay attention to sections at the front of the magazine and be alert to our search for small stories with punch.
We only accept material via email. Please add a brief sailing biography. SAIL will not consider articles that have been submitted simultaneously to another publication. Payments vary depending upon the type of article. We pay upon acceptance. Articles that have been published elsewhere are occasionally considered. We usually buy first North American and digital rights.
We strongly suggest that writers query SAIL about specific ideas. Although we cannot make a decision without seeing the article, we can tell you whether or not your idea is appropriate for SAIL. We attempt to read, consider, and reply to your query or article within 60 days.
We look for unique views of sailing. Read recent issues of SAIL to see the sort of articles we publish. Remember that SAIL teaches sailors of all abilities, beginner to expert, how to improve their sailing skills, equip their boats for more effective sailing, and enjoy sailing more. Think constructively; write about how to avoid common problems. Here are hints for different sections of the magazine.
Select specific actions or events and build your article around them. Focus on a theme or choose a specific aspect of sailing and discuss perhaps a personal attitude or philosophic approach. Notice that we devote certain issues to special themes: chartering, electronics, commissioning. Stay away from pieces that chronicle your journey in the day-to-day style of a logbook (these have rarely been successful). And keep in mind that you want to take readers onboard to share your sailing experience. We repeat: Many of our favorite features are simultaneously entertaining, practical and instructive.
Think locally. SAIL will continue to publish stories about sailing among the exotic islands of the Caribbean (for example), but we receive more of these than we can use. Meanwhile, we are always on the hunt for good material about sailing the lakes, rivers and coastlines of America.
HOW-TO, TECHNICAL ARTICLES
We want clear and concise articles of 1,000 to 2,000 words written for the intelligent layman. Discuss systems or techniques for navigation, sail trim or seamanship that have worked for you. Don't bounce over a wide range of topics superficially. Instead, deal with one subject in detail, with precision.
These short essays are reminiscences of the author's sailing life, including favorite boats, learning experiences, people encountered, places visited. It's an opportunity to let the writer in you have rein.
We give cruisers “news-you-can-use.” Any change or development that a cruiser might benefit from knowing is news-your-can-use. We give racers news-with-added-value. We cover very little "regatta news" in the magazine. Given a ubiquitous internet, it is pointless to print a story that merely tells the winners and winning moves of a regatta that happened two months prior. But the racing scene is always changing, or experiencing new pressures, or developing new players; there are many opportunities to identify the story behind the story. And we cover relevant industry, legal, political, and environmental matters. We usually assign news reporting in advance. It is best to query SAIL at least one month ahead of any scheduled event you want to cover. Accuracy and clarity are vital.
VOICE OF EXPERIENCE
If it happened to you and you learned something from it, you are a candidate to write a “Voice of Experience” piece. These stories generally run about 1,800 words and focus on a particular situation, an evolving set of events and the consequences. A sidebar of 250-350 words, included in the total wordcount, presents the lessons learned as "Hindsight."
Almost all SAIL articles are accompanied by appropriate photography. Sometimes we can acquire images from professionals, but most of the time the appropriate photos are those taken by someone who is participating in the events being described. Think about taking pictures at the same time you're thinking about writing. Try to include the people in your story as well as the boat and landscape. And if you're thinking about writing, take more photos than you think you'll ever need. Note that this doesn't mean you shouldn't edit the collection. General requirements: Sharp focus, good variety of close-up and overall shots, even lighting, good saturation in warm colors and a high resolution.
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