Submission Guidelines

Writer Guidelines

So, you want to write for Signature MONTANA magazine? Many of our best ideas come from our freelancers, but we receive dozens of queries each week. Before you read our writers’ guidelines, we’d like to offer these tips on how to get a freelance gig with us.

  • Always pitch an actual story idea. Sending an email that simply lets us know you’re a freelance writer available to write doesn’t really tell us a lot about you, such as what you’re interested in writing and how you’d write it.
  • Actually read the magazine before you pitch. Get to know the regular columns and departments. In your pitch, explain where in the magazine you think your story would best fit. Of course, everyone thinks their story should be on the cover, but there’s a whole science that goes into what we select as cover stories, which brings us to…
  • Highlight the trend in your story pitch. Keep in mind that cover stories usually tend to be reader service-oriented: Best Restaurants, 10 Central MT Getaways, Top Docs, etc. but we also like them to be trend-driven.
  • If pitching a travel story, only pitch regional travel stories. Because people pick up Signature MT magazine to learn more about central Montana and not travel stories on Mexico, Europe, etc.
  • Query Procedures

    We Do Not Accept Queries Over the Phone.

    Queries should be submitted in writing via e-mail or snail mail and consist of four parts:

  • 1. What is the story? A brief synopsis written in the style of your proposed piece.
  • 2. How will you tell it? Detail what sources you will use and how you will research the story.
  • 3. Why? Answer the “so what?” Why is this story important now? Why is this story right for Signature MONTANA magazine? How is this relevant to our Central Montana?
  • 4. Why are you the right person to tell this story? What are your credentials and experience? What’s your expertise and access to the subject matter?

ADDRESS:

Winston Publishing
P.O. Box 1707
Great Falls, MT 59403
Attn. Executive Editor

PLEASE ALSO SEND THREE OF YOUR BEST MAGAZINE-STYLE WRITING CLIPS.

What Should I Avoid In A Query?

Don’t send us queries that have nothing to do with life in Central Montana. Our editorial coverage area consists of 20 counties in which we pull content from. They include Glacier, Toole, Liberty, Hill, Blaine, Pondera, Teton, Chouteau, Lewis and Clark, Cascade, Judith Basin, Fergus, Meagher, Wheatland, Broadwater, Jefferson, Silver Bow, Deer Lodge, Granite and Powell. Even though our magazine covers a broad range of topics, there are a few we will not accept. We do not accept queries from people who don’t live here but visited and want to write about their experience while they were here. We also do not accept queries on travel stories focusing on areas outside Central Montana or areas that aren’t frequented by locals, i.e. “My recent trip to Europe.” Finally, we do not accept poetry. Your story idea must be relevant to our readers’ lives and must tap into a current vein be it food, shopping, politics, social issues, history, agriculture, etc.

We are mostly interested in experienced writers who have written specifically for consumer magazines like ours.

How Will I Know If You Have Accepted My Query?

Sometimes it takes us months to get around to reading queries. Because of our staff size and the volume of queries we receive, it is impossible for us to respond to every query. We will do our best to respond to your query in the timeliest manner possible. We prefer that you follow up with us via email. NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.

Sometimes your pitch isn’t exactly what we’re looking for, but we like your tone, your approach and the way you think. If that happens, we’ll usually keep your pitch and clips on file and contact you if a story comes up that we think you might be interested in. You never know; you could hear from us a year after you pitched us for a totally different reason.

If you want the opportunity to sell your story to another publication after we’ve had a chance to review it, please indicate a time frame (ie. “If I don’t hear from you within 30 days, I’ll assume you’re not interested and will begin to pitch the story to other publications.”) We won’t take it personally.

If you are to get an assignment from us, style and content, as well as deadline and what the payment will be, are provided when the assignment is made. The editor will then issue a contract to be signed by both writer and editor.

Payment Procedures

Freelance writers are paid on or about 90 days after publication, and sometimes later. Expenses such as phone calls, mileage, meals and trips are generally not reimbursed. Signature MONTANA magazine purchases exclusive one-time print reproduction rights for a period of one year from publication and all online/electronic distribution rights. Submitting articles similar in subject matter to other publications is an absolute no-no! If this agreement is compromised in any fashion, compensation may be denied and no further stories will be assigned.

All editorial material is protected by copyright.

Winston publishing retains the right to reprint editorial material for promotional use by a Winston Publishing publication, with credit given.

You will be docked in pay if your story contains misspellings (especially names of people or places) or grammatical mistakes. It is to your advantage to review your submissions not once but several times before sending it.

You are responsible for providing captions/ cutlines and photo credits for all images in the layout. Once layout has been completed by our creative department, a file will be sent to you requesting captions for each image unless otherwise specified. If you fail to provide captions, you will be docked in pay.

Stories may be archived online, in their edited form, at www.signaturemontana.com.

We elect not to pay kill fees for unsolicited articles. Kill fees may or may not be paid for assigned stories that are not used, at the discretion of the editor.

Deadlines

  • All assignments (text and accompanying artwork, if any) are due to us by noon of the date assigned by the editor.

Sample issues

  • Sample copies of Signature MONTANA are $7 each plus shipping and handling. For a copy, please contact Winston Publishing at [email protected]
  • Each writer will receive one complimentary copy of the issue in which the article is published. These will be the only editorial comp issues distributed by us.

Questions?

  • Contact us with questions at: [email protected]
  • We cannot be responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, slides, photographs or other material