Illinois Parks & Recreation: Author Guidelines
Are you thinking about writing for Illinois Parks & Recreation magazine? Are your insights unique, compelling, timely and relevant to board members and professionals in the field of parks, recreation and natural resources? If you answered yes, then read on to gain some insights and assistance in organizing, writing and submitting your article for publication. A good starting point is to understand your readers.
The magazine and its audience
Illinois Parks & Recreation magazine is published bimonthly by the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) and the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA). Readers include professionals and elected officials from Illinois park districts, forest preserves, recreation and natural resource agencies, as well as legislators, representatives from school districts and libraries, plus business leaders from the allied fields of law, finance, planning, construction, architecture and landscape design.
Finding the mind-set
Personal experience and expertise is probably your best source for article ideas. As a professional or volunteer, no doubt you have encountered problems and developed solutions that your colleagues can learn from. Has your agency developed a program or policy that works better than anything you've used before? Do you have fresh insights for a perennial issue facing the field?
A case study of a process, event or solution at your agency becomes valuable to readers when you communicate the lessons you learned rather than focusing on a chronology of events. Your article should offer how-to insights illustrated through your experience. Always try to anticipate a reader's questions, then answer them.
• How can other agencies adapt what you've done?
• What kinds of pitfalls might they run into?
• What are the costs and benefits?
• Where to go for more information?
Before you write
To help you write your article and to get it on the publication schedule, send the editor a short query letter consisting of a summary (approximately 150 words) of the proposed article, plus your name, agency/business affiliation and contact information. If you can't capture the main idea of your article in 150 words, perhaps your topic is too broad.
The topic should be sufficiently focused to be fully covered in a 1,500-word, double-spaced article, plus a half-page double-spaced "sidebar” of ancillary information, if appropriate. After reviewing your query, the editor will contact you to discuss your ideas and provide direction for organizing and developing your article.
Putting pen to paper
Now you are ready to write. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:
• Create a working title. This will help focus your ideas. Keep it brief (three to six words).
• Provide the author's or authors' full name(s).
• Write a lead sentence that compels the reader to read on. Consider starting your article with a surprising statistic, a question, a scenario or an analogy. Most importantly, get to the point: the purpose of your article.
• Write freely. Don't attempt perfection in the first draft. This is the time to get down all your thoughts.
• Use subheads to organize your story. This helps the reader understand the direction and focus of the story.
• Be comprehensive. Use details that add clarity. Provide statistics, dates and quantities that support your points.
• Point out the relevance to others. Make your points using examples from your experience, then tell readers how they can apply them.
• Write as you speak. A well-written article feels like a conversation between the writer and the reader. Use active voice and simple words and not a complicated, academic tone.
• Make your conclusion as memorable as your lead. Instead of summarizing, try to surpass the limits of the article: forecast, challenge, clinch.
• Write a one-sentence author identification (providing author's full name, title, current affiliation) at the end of the manuscript.
• As you research and write your article, don't hesitate to call the editor with questions.
• Take a break, then re-read. After you've written the first draft, let it rest a while. Come back to it looking for clarity and good organization. Delete unnecessary words and phrases. Turn passive sentences into active ones (e.g., change "The policy was developed by the board" to "The board developed the policy"). Make sure that paragraphs follow logically from one to the next.
• Double-check the accuracy of your article. Return to your source material and verify every name, date, fact and figure. Accuracy is your responsibility, not that of the IP&R editor.
• Test market your article by asking a few colleagues to read it. They might point out ways to clarify your message, add an example or liven up your lead.
Submitting your manuscript
• Submit your article via e-mail as an attachment file in Microsoft Word.
• If an article has been submitted to or published in another publication, a letter notifying the editor should accompany the submission.
• Direct all inquiries and completed manuscripts to Editor, Illinois Parks & Recreation, Illinois Association of Park Districts, 211 E. Monroe Street, Springfield, IL 62701-1186 or email editorialdept@ILparks.org. If you have any questions about submitting an article, please call (217) 523-4554.
• If you have artwork, photographs, charts or tables to accompany the article, submit them with the article.
• If you submit photographs, write captions for them and include them at the end of your article, after the author identification.
• Photographs are acceptable in color or black-and-white high-quality prints or scanned (300 DPI) JPG or TIF files.
• Unless a request is submitted in writing, all photographs and illustrative artwork become the property of Illinois Parks & Recreation.
• Art and photographs intended for use on the cover of the magazine should be of high quality, in vibrant four-color and depict a dramatic view. All must be vertical in orientation and Illinois scenes.
• IP&R does not grant honorarium or pay fees for use of cover art or photography. Contributors receive a complimentary copy of the publication in which their work is featured.
Evaluation and editing process
All queries and articles submitted are acknowledged with an e-mail and reviewed by one or more editors. Please allow at least six weeks for the review of an unsolicited proposal; solicited manuscripts are handled more quickly.
Manuscripts are evaluated based on originality of topic, readability, soundness of content, timeliness and interest to IP&R readers. Articles that essentially only promote a particular agency, company, product or service are not considered publishable. All accepted articles are subject to editing for style, clarity and length. If it's concluded that your article is not suitable for IP&R, you'll receive a letter explaining why.
Once the article has been scheduled for publication, you will be asked to sign a copyright release form that gives IP&R magazine copyright to the article.
Issue assignment and copy editing
Upon acceptance for publication, articles are tentatively assigned to an issue. This schedule is subject to change. The editor may solicit manuscripts for an issue several months in advance of the issue, and editing and rewriting takes about a month. So, for example, if your article has been assigned for January/February, you'll be contacted in November.
Your writing style is your own, and every attempt will be made to preserve it. Edits will be made to make the copy clear and concise. You will receive an e-mail draft copy of the layout of your article prior to publication, and you will have one to two days to review it.
Reaping the rewards
Most authors feel great personal and professional satisfaction from having an article published in IP&R and helping others in the field stay abreast of trends, resolve issues and better manage their agencies. Published articles are contributions to the profession; no compensation will be made.
Contributors receive complimentary copies of the publication in which their article is featured.
Also, all published articles are judged in the annual IP&R Magazine Awards Program, sponsored by the IAPD/IPRA Joint Editorial Committee. Winners are announced at the IAPD/IPRA Annual Conference in January and awards are presented locally (typically at an agency board meeting following the conference). A panel of judges determines the "Best" articles in the following categories:
• administration/facility management
• natural resources/environment
• public awareness/marketing
• recreation programming
Thank you for your interest in Illinois Parks & Recreation magazine.