Sunset editorial guidelines

Suggestions for freelance travel writers

Sunset is Western America's largest-circulation regional magazine (more than 1 million subscribers), with monthly issues devoted to four subject areas:

 

We cover the 13 Western U.S. states (listed at bottom) as well as British Columbia and Mexico, publishing 5 regional editions of the magazine:

What we're looking for: The magazine is largely staff written; its largest freelance need is in travel, and more for shorter items and one- or two- page stories than features.

We're looking for “take-action” travel ideas within our coverage area that will appeal to a large, general interest audience (70 percent women) that is time challenged, appreciates value, and is more likely to live in the suburbs than San Francisco, Seattle, or Los Angeles. (In other words, we're not a city magazine.)

We don't do a lot of vertical subject stories that only appeal to a narrow audience; we like destinations that offer multiple experiences. Our readers are active, but more into “soft” adventures.

Keep in mind: The magazine has been covering the West for more than a century. It has a staff that routinely scouts the West and receives every travel press release and story tip sheet the market produces. Be sure to review at least a year's worth of back issues to see if we’ve covered your topic; think new, think fresh.

Style: Sunset stories are informative, friendly, opinionated; they convey a sense of place. Experts and insiders are quoted judiciously. Please note the format for how we present the basic facts and follow it.

Submission Procedures: No responsibility is assumed for unsolicited manuscripts and these are highly discouraged. Writers must submit a query letter to the editor in advance. The letter should explain and outline the proposed story idea, and suggest an appropriate month or season. E-mail queries are preferred. Send them to travelquery@sunset.com.

You also may email your query to travel@sunset.com or send it, along with a return SASE, to Editorial Services, Sunset, 80 Willow Rd, Menlo Park, CA 94025. It will be forwarded to the appropriate editor.

Once an editor approves an idea for a story, the writer will be issued a Story Contract assigning an approximate word length and due date for the text. The contract specifies the terms of the agreement between the writer and Sunset Publishing Corporation.

The assigned text should be submitted via email with the resource material specified in the contract. Following submission of the text, the writer may be asked to revise the manuscript for publication or to supply further information or answer questions posed by the editor.

Payment will be made upon acceptance of the text with submission of an invoice in the amount specified in the contract.

After acceptance, the text will then be processed by staff copy editors and fact checkers. Writers will be credited with a byline if the manuscript is not substantially altered before publication in Sunset Magazine.

Photography: Writers are encouraged to submit the names of prospective sources of color photographs (digital, 35mm or medium-format transparencies) to illustrate stories. However, Sunset will arrange for all photo submissions and/or assignments to photographers.

The 13 Western states we cover: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming; plus some coverage of British Columbia and Mexico.

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