Sea Kayaker has always been a hands-on publication. It is written for sea kayakers by sea kayakers. Our travel stories are written by the paddlers who had the adventures; the destination articles are written by kayakers who either live in the area or have been paddling there for years. Instructional articles come to us from the instructors who teach the methods they’re writing about, and many of our safety articles offer the first-hand accounts of kayakers who survived an ordeal. Whether you’ve ever written for publication or not isn’t as important as what you know and have to share.
For those of us who put the magazine together, there are few things more satisfying than having a Sea Kayaker reader become a Sea Kayaker contributor. We encourage everyone who enjoys the magazine to become part of it. If you have an experience or knowledge that you think other readers might enjoy or learn from, we’d be happy to consider your ideas to see if we can find a way to put them into print. Just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are a few topics we’re looking to cover in the issues ahead:
- paddling for fitness and speed
- kayak fishing
- cruising with kids
- gourmet camp cooking
We look forward to hearing from you!
Christopher Cunningham, Editor
Click here to download a PDF of the SK submission guidelines, or read below.
Writer’s Guidelines & Section Descriptions
EDITORIAL CONTENT SEA KAYAKER
NOTE: Articles that have appeared verbatim on any website will not be
accepted. Stories that have been posted in another form online are considered
previously published and will be paid at a lower rate than unpublished stories
(to be determined by the editor based on overlapping content and exposure).
We prefer contributions from experienced kayakers with some writing
experience. We review articles and outlines on speculation, and you may contact
our editorial department for feedback before you begin writing.
Contributions may be submitted via email with text pasted into the body of
the email message or as an attachment using one of the following formats:
Microsoft Word (.doc), rich-text (.rtf) or plain text (.txt). Please include complete
contact info (name, address, phone number, alternate email address).
Submissions may also be sent via regular mail to our office on CD (previously
listed file formats are acceptable). Clearly label all materials with your name,
address, phone number and email address (if applicable).
We recommend submitting an outline of your proposed feature along with a
short writing sample from the story (approx. 300-500 words) to give us an
idea of your writing style, ability and story direction (see our Writer’s Tips for
Destination articles provide our readers with information about interesting
places to paddle. They are usually based in North America, as the majority of
our readership resides in this area. The area described should be large enough
to provide several paddling itineraries and numerous overnight options.
If you’d like to write a Destination piece, you should have long-standing
experience with the area: numerous trips and experience throughout the
location’s paddling season. One or two trips to an area will not provide enough
personal knowledge of the place.
Destination authors are required to provide information about launch sites,
camping/overnight options, permits and other requirements for the area, along
with tips on weather and water conditions to advise paddlers on paddling
safely. Destination articles include a map of the area (original provided by
the author) and a short “Trip Planner” sidebar listing contact information for
outfitters and other resources that our readers would find useful. Word count
for Destination articles should be in the range of 2,500-3,000 words. See our
Photography Guidelines for information about Destination photography.
These are narratives about kayaking trips that take place over a minimum of
4 or 5 days. (Articles about trips organized by a 3rd-party touring company
pose some special challenges and should be discussed with the editorial
department.) The focus and length of Journey articles vary, but you’ll need to do
more than recount your trip: You must create an experience for the reader.
To give a Journey continuity and a sense of progress, it helps to develop a
theme or relate a personal goal or expectation specific to the trip. Whether your
experience was a harrowing adventure, a trip to an exotic or unique setting,
or a journey during which you experienced some transformation or learned
something valuable, a theme will help drive your story.
Journey stories usually range from 2,500 to 4,000 words. See Photography
Guidelines for information about Journey images.
Other acceptable formats include short-format Journey stories (if the trip’s
duration is too short for a regular Journey), essays, race stories, event coverage
(from a non-commercial standpoint), history articles and more.
This category is flexible. Contact SK’s editorial staff for feedback.
We recommend that all Department ideas are approved by the editor before
articles are written. Regular Departments include:
• Daytrippers—These are “mini-Destinations” that provide information
about one-day paddling itineraries in urban, densely populated, or frequently
visited areas. Authors must be well-versed in the area and its full paddling
season. Contact SK’s editorial staff for complete guidelines.
• Technique—Technique articles cover a wide range of topics: paddle
strokes and braces, rolling, navigation, group dynamics, rescues, etc. We
prefer authors to be experienced paddlers or instructors. Articles should
include: a brief intro explaining the technique’s usefulness and, if relevant,
history; instructions in an appropriate order; precautions about any risks;
and images, usually photos, illustrating each step and demonstrating the
technique in a “realistic” setting. Length varies from 500 words for a single
technique to 3,000 words for a range of techniques.
• Do-It-Yourself—D-I-Y articles are complete sets of instructions for
projects useful to kayakers. Supplied instructions must be clear and complete,
and materials must be available from independent sources. Projects must be
within an average skill range and require tools that readers are likely to own
or can easily afford to purchase. We require photos of the finished project
as well as photos or drawings of the parts and critical phases of the work
in progress. A list of materials, sources and costs should be supplied. D-I-Y
article lengths vary in relation to the complexity of the project.
• Off the Water—Short tips (200 words or less) for the workshop or on
shore that enhance kayaking-related experiences or solve problems typically
encountered while camping or maintaining kayaking equipment.
• Gear Reviews—Equipment reviews are usually assigned articles.
Reviewers must be free of any relationship with the manufacturer that would
compromise an objective review or suggest a conflict of interest. Authors
must have experience or credentials to make a thorough and fair evaluation
of the gear.
• Safety—Safety articles primarily cover kayaking accidents. Their main
purpose is education: to enable readers to learn from and avoid the
misfortunes of others. Safety articles have two sections: a description of the
incident, and an analysis underscoring the significant factors and discussing
how to better handle similar situations. We encourage readers to inform us
about accidents they’ve heard of or been involved in, and we make every
effort to be sensitive to the needs of those involved.
• Paddler Profiles—These are short biographical sketches (approx. 850-
1,250 words) about paddlers, both well-known and unknown, who have
significantly changed or been changed by sea kayaking. Profiles are usually
assigned articles; suggestions about possible profile subjects are gladly
accepted.Submitting Content to Sea Kayaker
Content submitted should be previously unpublished unless special permission
is given from Sea Kayaker’s editor. For examples of acceptable writing style,
see our current issue, available through many bookstores and newsstands, and
review our “Top 10 Tips for Writers.” To obtain a current or back issue, visit our
website at www.seakayakermag.com or phone 206-789-9536
Please contact Sea Kayaker’s editorial department with questions or
for more information at 206-789-1326. Materials can be emailed to
email@example.com or sent via USPS to: Sea Kayaker Editorial Dept.;
6012 Seaview Ave. NW; Seattle, WA 98107.
Sea Kayaker magazine is not responsible for any unsolicited materials received.
To ensure return of your materials, enclose self-addressed packaging materials
with correct postage.
TOP 10 TIPS FOR WRITERING FEATURE ARTICLES
1. Appeal to the senses.
During your paddling experience, the world around you came to you through your eyes and ears. To put the reader in that same place, focus the writing on the same sensory information. For example, “The wind was blowing very hard,” doesn’t describe the scene, it only analyzes it. Write vividly, describing what you saw in enough detail for the reader to picture the same image: “The waves crested in white streaks of foam, and the spray coming over the bow stung my skin and eyes. I shouted to John, who was no more than a boat length ahead of me, but he never even turned his head.” The readers can feel that they are a part of the scene and will come to the same conclusion: It’s blowing hard.
2. Avoid unnecessary language.
Avoid vague descriptors: Words like “glorious,” “incredible,” “awesome” and “magnificent” have no real content. What is an enormous wave? Is it as big as a boxcar? A split-level house? What color is the “colorful” fish?
Avoid words you wouldn’t use in conversation: An “ursine interloper” is still just a bear that wandered into your camp. If you interrupt the flow of the story to send a reader to the dictionary, the word should be worth the trip.
Avoid pathetic fallacy/anthropomorphism: The sea may seem cruel, but it’s just a bunch of waves, none of them malicious. In describing animal behavior, focus on what you see and hear, and steer clear of what you think the animal is thinking or feeling.
3. Write economically and selectively.
William Faulkner said, “Writing consists of killing your little darlings.” In other words, be your own editor, and be ruthless. The writing should not draw undue attention to the writer. We want articles filled with great description, yet short enough to be read in one sitting. Eliminate extraneous words and passages.
4. Develop a theme.
It helps to develop a theme or relate a personal goal or expectation specific to your paddling experience. Whether your story was a harrowing
adventure, a trip to an exotic or unique setting, or a journey during which you experienced some transformation or learned something valuable, a theme will help drive your story.
5. Cover the important stuff.
Focus on the highlights and the most significant moments of your story. We can include section breaks in the article to signify gaps in time. If it’s important to describe regular routines, pick a specific representative instance. Describe events as they unfold, not as you are looking back on them.
6. Keep to the point.
Tangents must take readers somewhere worth going. If you need to take a detour to bring some interesting information to readers, make sure you bring them back to the story. Don’t lead them down a dead end, only to pick up the narrative again where you left off.
7. Maintain flow.
Read your story aloud. Better yet, have someone read it aloud to you. You’ll get winded if your sentences are consistently too long and
hyperventilate if they’re too short. Vary the length and structure of sentences as the content dictates to keep the pace of the story lively.
8. Use the appropriate tense.
Although there are exceptions, the past tense is the best choice for most narrative stories. Don’t confuse readers by switching back and forth
between present and past tense.
9. Create an interesting chronology.
Nothing puts readers to sleep faster than a story that starts at Day One of a trip and trudges on through Day Two, Day Three, etc. If your story is a harrowing adventure, you may want to start with the most harrowing moment, whether it’s in the middle or at the end of your trip, then take the reader back through the events leading up to that point. If your story is more reflective, lead off with your central theme and follow it through to the end.
10. Be clear.
Put yourself in the reader’s seat. Be aware that others will not be as familiar with your subject as you are, and write accordingly. Develop a sense of continuity throughout. We (editors and readers) don’t want to work too hard at deciphering your meaning.
(See Writer’s Guidelines for descriptions of Article Types.)
NOTE: Photos that have appeared online may not be accepted or will be
considered previously published and will be paid at a lower rate than the rate
applied to unpublished images (to be determined by the editor based on web
presentation and exposure).
Accepted Image Formats (in order of preference)
1. High-resolution digital files: We prefer low-resolution JPEGs for initial
selection and approval. If an article is approved for publication, we will
request high-resolution files in JPEG or TIFF format.
2. High-quality 35mm color slides, negatives or larger transparencies
• NOTE: contributors may supply scans of their transparencies (see #1
above); otherwise, scanning costs will be deducted from contributor
payments. Most processing labs will supply a CD containing lo-res JPEG
versions of your images for a small cost, if you request it upon developing.
• Sharp focus and good, clear composition—subjects should be attractively
framed and easy to “read” by viewers
• Good contrast with rich, vivid color
• Proper exposure (no overexposed or underexposed images)
• Interesting subject matter
• A dynamic quality (for example, an active paddler versus a “posing” paddler)
• An interesting perspective or angle (we rarely use bow shots; often, the best
photos are taken from a different eye level than that of sitting in a kayak or
standing on shore)
• Photos that support the article (there should be a good selection of images to
match locations/events mentioned in the text)
• A portrayal of safe, correct kayaking practices (PFDs should be worn in most
For Journey and Destination articles, we prefer approximately 40 images to
choose from. If you have significantly more, we suggest eliminating those of
poor or questionable quality. A minimum of 20 images will be considered if
the shots are directly in keeping with the guidelines below. Requirements for
“Other” features vary. Sea Kayaker will assign accompanying illustrations as
necessary. If interested, keep our Cover Photography Guidelines in mind while
taking photos for feature articles.
In order of importance (meaning, the categories we’d like the most photos to
choose from), here’s what we look for in Destination photography:
1. On-the-water shots of paddlers actively paddling, with a scenic backdrop
unique to the paddling location.
2. Panoramic or scenic shots that don’t necessarily show paddlers, but that give
a feel for the geography of the area.
3. Medium-focal-length shots of paddlers doing things like reading charts,
setting up camp, launching, fishing, exploring caves, or something specific to
4. Shots of flora, fauna, scenery or culture particular to the area paddled.
Same guidelines as for Destination articles but with an emphasis on shots that
capture moments in the narrative and any images describing an area’s unique
culture as discussed in the text: the people, their dwellings, handicrafts, etc.
See Writer’s Guidelines for descriptions of individual Departments. General
photo quality should be good and easy to “read.” Contact editorial staff for
The last page of Sea Kayaker magazine features a single photo or photo series
providing an unusual perspective, along with a text-based description. Send
your unique, whimsical, humorous and/or thought-provoking sea kayak–related
images in the following formats: High-quality digital image, 35mm slide or
negative, excellent-quality print photo.
Vertical orientation required for cover images
Accepted Image Formats (in order of preference)
1. Digital images: High-quality digital images must be a minimum size of 8″ x
11″ at 300 dpi in their original format (please do not up-res images)
2. High-quality 35mm color slides (larger format transparencies OK)
Following are general guidelines for Sea Kayaker covers; however, we are
always willing to consider other possibilities. Be creative!
1. Cover theme should clearly depict sea kayaking; images should include a
striking central subject that is clear, well-lit and easy to “read” by the viewer.
2. Color and contrast should be rich and well-defined.
3. Pictures taken from unique angles or perspectives are generally more visually
interesting than standard eye-level “landscape” images taken with a midframe
4. Faces are good. Not all cover images have to include faces, but readers like
being able to “connect” with a cover subject.
5. Photos with people should appear candid, not staged or posed.
6. Scenes should be appealing and inviting to the majority of paddlers. Avoid
extremely cold or harsh conditions.
7. A cover image should include background area simple enough that the
magazine logo and cover text can be clearly read over it (not too much
texture and/or color variation). Keep this in mind when framing your
pictures—it’s always a good idea to include some space around your subject.
NOTE: The Sea Kayaker logo always appears on the top portion of the cover,
covering approximately the top 1/5 of the image; cover text generally appears
in the area below the logo but is not limited to this space. We may also put
additional text over the bottom of the image or elsewhere on the page. PFDs
should appear on paddlers under most circumstances.
(Cover images must not appear to endorse a particular product or products by
way of including company logos or product names. To comply with this policy,
our production department may alter final digital files as necessary to remove
logos appearing on kayaks, clothing and equipment.)
Submitting Images to Sea Kayaker
All images should be previously unpublished unless special permission is given
by Sea Kayaker’s editor. For examples of appropriate images, see our current
issue, available through many bookstores and newsstands. To purchase a current
or back issue, visit our website at www.seakayakermag.com, or phone 206-
Please contact Sea Kayaker’s editorial department with questions or for more
information at 206-789-1326. Low-resolution sample digital files can be sent in
JPEG format via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org – images can be sent
via USPS to: Sea Kayaker Editorial Dept.; 6012 Seaview Ave. NW; Seattle, WA 98107.
Sea Kayaker is not responsible for any unsolicited materials received. To ensure
return of your materials, enclose a self-addressed envelope with correct postage.