Writing an HO layout article

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Santa Fe Jack, Oct 29, 2007.

  1. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    Hey, All -

    As I work through the layout building process, I believe I have some unique approaches to building and modeling, and am considering writing an article for Model Railroader or some such magazine.

    What does it take to get an article published? Does one simply send in a finished article and pictures and see if they like it, or is it better to run the concept by someone and have their guidance in taking pictures and stuff like that?

    Does anyone here have such experience?

    Or - is this a totally bankrupt idea, and I should not even think about it?
  2. PWRR-2207

    PWRR-2207 Rogue Islander

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  3. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    As far as an article for Model Railroader,
    First you have to send them an outline with all the paticulars you want to put in your article.
    They'll review it, probably have a meeting or two about it, then...They let you know if it fits(yeah..Ok..)within their scheme of things.
    Oh..They do have a click of their favorite authors, so your chances are(believe me.....I know, having a rejection letter from them) slim to less than zero of getting published...

    NOW...For the E-Mag...Alls you do is write your article, including pictures, send it to me(eightyeightfan_99@yahoo.com), or PM NGauger(He'll send it to me)I'll read it...fluff it if needed, check spelling, put the pics where you want them, send it to Mikey and in January your article will be in the E-Mag, read by thousands here, and on the outside.
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Jack: Model Railroader does have a little list of how your article should be prepared for them -- they'll send it if you ask; it may even be posted on the web site.
    Certainly check with them if the article will fit with their other plans; they may not want to print articles on Penn Central stations every month, but if you hit an area (subject or geography) that they haven't covered lately, you could be in.
    And don't submit the same article to a bunch of magazines at the same time -- if two publish it at once, you'll never sell another one.

    And remember John Allen's tribute to Linn Westcott (then editor of MR): a building labelled:
    Linn's Archives
    Ancient Manuscripts and Altered Articles.
  5. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    :eek: WHAT!? WHY NOT!!??!! :mrgreen:
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Every other month they want one on a PC roundhouse.
  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    A few years ago one of the members of our modular club submitted an article to Model Railroader and had it accepted. He was paid pretty well for the article, but over a year later the article had not yet appeared in the magazine. We then had the NMRA national convention at the Long Beach Convention Center, and Matt met the editors of Model Railroader Magazine. He asked them when his article was going to appear? He was a senior in high school trying to get into college and felt it would help his application if he could show the clollege that he was already a published author! The Model Railroader editors were in shock! They thought they were dealing with an adult author! His article appeared 2 or 3 months later with a nice biographical sketch of Matt.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that your article should be matched to the magazine you want to have publish it. Model Railroader does a lot of features on model railroads, and most of their modeling subjects are structures and scenery rather than locomotives and rolling stock. RMC will do more articles on locomotives or rolling stock. I would say RMC is more of a modeler's mag. Whereas MR is geared more toward building layouts. The other thing to keep in mind is that while they might not be interrested in another how to article, they might be interested in doing a feature story on your layout.
  8. Spongemike

    Spongemike New Member

    Hi there

    Whilst I've never written an article for a model railroad magazine, I have written and had published several for a scale aircraft modelling magazine. (Scale Aviation Modeller International, SAM Publications )

    So here's a few tips that might help you out...

    Proof read your article several times. Then get someone else to proof read it. Editors love people whose spelling and grammar is good. Then proof read it again. You will be surprised at what you find! And don't solely rely on the spell checker in MSWord or anything like that - their usefulness is limited to only checking the spelling, not the context in which / witch a word is used if you see what I mean.

    Don't be overly verbose, but don't be too light on the details. And if you are going to use technical 'jargon' or abbreviations, say what it means.

    Take photos... LOTS of photos. They won't use them all, but it's better to give them a selection from which to choose, rather than a handful which may not be what they want.

    Use a decent lighting set-up, and USE A TRIPOD! Set the camera's ISO setting to the lowest it will go to, and set the aperture/shutter speed to get the effect you want. Try to avoid using flash if at all possible. You may end up with shutter speeds in the region of 1 - 3 seconds, but with a tripod that won't be a problem.

    Go through back issues, and see how the photos are composed and arranged.

    OK, that's my 2c worth; I hope it's been of some help to you.

    Cheers from Aotearoa

  9. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    On proofreading: one fellow I worked for always had someone else (or a couple of someones elses) read his reports after they were typed. He claimed that he would read what he had originally written, not always what was typed.
    When I wrote computer instructions, I had a couple of people that I tried them out on. One would literally follow the instructions while the other would follow them inteligently. See if you can have your article read by someone who knows little about railroads and by someone who is familiar with them.
  10. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Lots of good advice here. I write a train article for a monthly newspaper in California, and one on life in Arizona for yet another paper in Ohio. You can read my train articles in my blog here on the Gauge, and my train articles on this website. Sorry for this shameless plug,:oops: but the point I was going to make is that when I finish an article, I no only proofread it many times, but give it to my wife for her reaction. When I think one is ready to submit, I let it sit for a few days without looking at it, and then go back and read it, not on the computer, but a printed version. Somehow, this makes a difference and I can find typos and I can always find something to rewrite or correct when I do it this way.

    Another tip is when you're writing about something you are really familiar with, or know a lot about, you may have problems being too close to the subject and making mental assumptions. Again, having someone else read through it that is not familiar with the subject is a good thing. When I wrote technical and instruction manuals for products I designed, I always tried to have someone that didn't know anything about the product go through the procedures, just to be sure they made sense are were easy to follow... and that I didn't make assumptions and used words that were familiar to me but maybe not to others.

    Good luck, I'd love to write an article for one of the railroading magazines, but as Ed says, it's tough to break into the clique... unless you're some famous celebrity.:mrgreen:
  11. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    And that's why it's better to subscribe- for free I might add- to Zealot, no space for celebrities here, just normal people, making mistakes in a normal way and being able to see a whole variety of stuff, EVERYDAY, not just monthly. :mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen:
  12. ModelSteamTrains

    ModelSteamTrains New Member

    You have way lots of more experience then I would ever have but there is a fellow by the name of Robert Ringer who says to be extremely persistent.

    Ask, ask, ask, ask, and then ask some more... :razz:

    So, if you keep submitting an article -- eventually perhaps someone will relent and print it on a national train magazine? Especially, if it is a well written one that covers something new...
  13. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Well I guess that falls in the catergory: If you don't succeed try, try and try again.
  14. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    SFJ, Model Steam is right, send in material often. It might hit the target eventually. Also, there is some very good advise on this thread above. Don't be discouraged, that's the main thing. I've had a lot of stuff published in scientific journals and that's really tough. It goes to peer review, and the research often has to be re-done, re-written over and over. Finally after 6 months to a year is gets in print. Sometimes it hardly resembles the original attempt but it's usually better. With a book, now that's really interesting, it all depends on the editor. Some editors completely re-write the material, others hardly touch it. But you usually have a feel how it will go before. Book rejections are normal. I've had dozens of turn downs and a few accepted. But as you go along it gets a little easier when they get to know you. That would also be true with a magazine article. Mainly, try to hit their format and don't make it too long. They'll cut a lot out anyway. Study their style and keep to that. Remember editors hate to read long articles. Good luck and keep at it.
  15. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    All great advice, really. And I appreciate it.
    I've been told I'm a good writer, and have written plenty for the "gray literature" as we call it when one publishes something through the government. Just had something published by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, for example. I have a colleague who writes several articles a year for coin magazines, so I just may try this.

    PS - rhtastro, I'm curious as to what peer reviewed scientific journals you have published in. Something to do with astronomy? Astrophysics?
  16. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    SFJ, no such luck with the astronomy literature. It was all in biochem, plant phys and food science journals in the 60's 70's and 80's. However, some of my photos are in the astronomy literature as I've been asked for permission for their use several times by publishers. Astronomy and astrophotography are strictly hobbies much like model trains are. But I have mingled with professional astronomers from time to time, and I still do, as we're sort of on the same wave length. And I think of some of them as good friends. I got into astronomy by the back door when I attended many of the physics seminars while at UC-Davis. I got to the point where I was giving talks to their group. It's always fun to get into other segments of science beyond your own area of expertise. Mine was in hormone chemistry. There's so much to learn. All the best with your project. You do write well. bob

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