Guidelines for freelance home writers

 How to pitch a story about a new home or renovation

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Thomas J. Story

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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; however, we do accept freelance pitches for the Home section for articles about new houses and renovation projects.

Please bear in mind that stories about new construction work best for us when they provide useful information and affordable decorating ideas for our many, many readers who are not currently planning to build a house.

For pitches about a renovation, we strongly encourage that you include “before” photos whenever possible.

Although the look generally associated with Sunset is one of warm modernism, we are also interested in seeing the ways in which Westerners are updating and adapting the vernacular residential architecture of their regions, from Victorian to Spanish Colonial Revival and beyond, for today’s needs.

Style

Sunset stories are informative, friendly, opinionated; experts and insiders are quoted judiciously. Please note the format for how we present the basic facts and follow it, thinking about how best to extract and present any usable information. Our audience is made up of consumers, not architects or design professionals, so please avoid design jargon.

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, with scouting photos of the interior and exterior of the house attached.

The house must not have been published in a competing magazine (these include national shelter magazines); previous newspaper coverage, however, will not disqualify it.

The letter should explain and outline the proposed story idea; e-mail queries are preferred. Send them to home@sunset.com.

You also may send your query letter 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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