The National Wildlife Federation

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Writer Guidelines

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National Wildlife Federation, P.O. Box 1583, Merrifield VA 22116-1583

National Wildlife® magazine is published by the National Wildlife Federation, the largest private conservation group in the United States. It is bi-monthly, has an average circulation per issue of more than 325,000, and focuses on wildlife and environmental issues within the United States and in other areas of the world. Although we have staff writers and field editors, we depend heavily upon outside contributions. Therefore, we are eager for your ideas and suggestions.

Audience: Our readers include people concerned about the environment who appreciate the drama and beauty of all wildlife, both plant and animal. Some of them are wildlife professionals; some are environmental activists; some are hunters and fisherman; and some are armchair travelers who enjoy reading about fascinating places and wildlife.

Article Types: Interesting, relevant, provocative and sometimes challenging articles on the following subjects: environmental and wildlife issues, wildlife profiles, species status reports, personal adventures, personality profiles, scientific trends, essays, how-to’s, relationships between people and land, gee whiz features, wildlife art, underwater and historical pieces. Many of our readers are activists. We try to give them appropriate tips on how to get involved and make a difference.

Style: We want vital, active writing that holds the reader once our dramatic photography and art have attracted interest in the story. We’ve published everything from poetic nature essays to field journals, and we are reluctant to say that one kind of writing serves our purposes more than another. But we do appreciate the following:

Lean copy. We want every word to count. Cut out extraneous material; avoid convoluted sentences.

Tight structure. Every piece must have a structural backbone. Just as every paragraph should have a topic sentence, every story should have a topic paragraph, a “billboard” that points the way for the reader, telling him exactly what the story is about and where it’s going to take him.

Hard reporting. We want the whole story, with specific hard facts reported from primary sources. Use the phone. Don’t be satisfied with general quotations; get colorful quotes that say something. Get the latest statistics and numbers. Cover all sides, but don’t get so close to the story that you can no longer distinguish what is important.

Engaging leads. Write them to entice the readers into the piece.

Understandable language. Avoid the lingo of biologists or wildlife managers. Remember, our readers, no matter how well educated, are usually not professionals in the field.

Anecdotes. They help bring most copy to life. Use them.

Punchy endings. Don’t leave us with flat closers, such as story summaries or innocuous platitudes about environmental lessons. The ender, as with the lead, should be a high point of the story.

Length: Our articles generally run from 500 words for shorter department pieces to 2,500 words for some major features.

Payment: Payments vary depending on experience but begin at $1.50 a word. The magazines buy all rights to text, plus reprint and promotion rights for the National Wildlife Federation. Pictures and text submitted together will be purchased as a package. Payment is on acceptance.

Submissions: Write a one-page summary outlining what you plan to cover and how you will organize the material. This should be a tightly written, specific “selling” letter designed to make the story compelling to the editors. You can also include sample pictures, if you have them, a brief note about your background and samples of your magazine writing. We will reply within six weeks.

Proposal letters should be sent to National Wildlife’s editorial staff at 11100 Wildlife Center Dr., Reston, VA 20190. Queries can be emailed to:

Assignments: All assignments will be made or confirmed in writing. The assignment letter will outline payment, length, delivery date and other suggestions. The assignment letter will be accompanied by a transfer-of-rights form to be signed and returned.

Note to Writer-Photographers: If you also shoot pictures, so much the better. Let's see them. We are always interested in photograph and text "packages." It is not necessary to submit photos with an article; however, superlative color images can make a story package much more appealing. They should cover a variety of subjects: scene-setting pictures in the location of the story; shots of the author or subject at work; close-up, middle-distance and panoramic wildlife shots; behavior pictures; pictures which illustrate special points covered in the story. The photos should appeal to a lay audience and should be technically sharp and well-exposed. See our Photography Guidelines.

To download a copy of these guidelines please click here.

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More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

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