All manuscripts are evaluated by a panel of Naval History editors, whose list of accepted and rejected articles is presented at the monthly meeting of the U.S. Naval Institute Editorial Board.
All submissions should be annotated. Also include art suggestions, a short biography and your email address, return street address, and home and office telephone numbers.
U.S. Naval Institute
291 Wood Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5034
If possible, include an IBM-compatible CD or diskette.
Fax submissions of "In Contact" items to: 410-295-1049.
To qualify as an article in Naval History, a manuscript must have fewer than 3,500 words.
The rate of payment varies from $60 to $150 per estimated published page (1,000 words). Book reviews ($75 per review) and pictorials ($250-$500) are commissioned and, although queries are welcome, unsolicited reviews are discouraged. The rate of payment for anecdotes is $25 each.
By Fred L. Schultz, Senior Editor
Freelance writers looking to be published in Naval History face a formidable obstacle—a huge bank of already accepted manuscripts. Professionals will appreciate that publications usually buy more manuscripts than they can possibly use, because it is always better for an editor to have too much material from which to choose than not enough. Hence, the competition is stiff for getting your manuscript accepted in the first place and equally so in having it published.
That said, a good story will invariably make it into the magazine more quickly than a "for the record" reminiscence of life at sea. This is not to say that we are uninterested in well-documented facts. We are simply looking for an engaging narrative to accompany them.
Queries are always the best bet before an author assembles a story. We may already have related material in the bank, the topic may have been recently exhausted, or it may simply not be right for this publication. Because of the amount of mail we receive, the query should grab the editor's attention from the start. Give away the best part of the story in the first paragraph of the query. Then delineate your qualifications for writing such a piece. And have a thick skin, because a favorable response from the editor will likely elicit only a form letter agreeing to see the manuscript on speculation, with no commitment on the publisher's part. Completed manuscripts are always welcome and are evaluated in the same manner as all others.
Be patient after submitting the piece. Most magazines deal with hundreds of authors at a time, so sympathize with the editors making the decisions. Editors at Naval History would like nothing more than to accommodate and publish all their authors expeditiously. Unfortunately, it is simply an impossible goal. Be patient.
Sample clips hardly ever sway an editorial decision, but they do give further indication of the query writer's ability. Evidence that the author has been published before, while not necessarily a qualification for writing naval history, does play a part in the equation.
Most editors likely will agree that freelancers should refrain from telephone queries, on both interest in a topic or the status of a manuscript under evaluation or already purchased. If all authors called editors with such questions, not much evaluating—or publishing, for that matter—would get done.
The best way to "break into" Naval History is first to identify a good story, with one or several of the following: drama, action, humor, irony, emotion. Then give your best shot in the lead paragraph, generally without giving away—unlike the query—the upshot of the story. The author-editor team has only seconds to draw the reader into the story. The opening needs to be sufficiently provocative or attractive as to leave the reader wanting more. Save the vital statistics of the characters or other arcane details for later in your story. In other words, do not begin with "He was born on New Year's day . . ." unless of course that is the focus of the piece.