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Contributors' Guidelines

contributor guidelines for Natural Life MagazineWho We Are

Natural Life Magazine has been, since 1976, a forum for the sharing of information among readers interested in eco-friendly living for themselves and their families. (It has been a subscriber-supported digital magazine since 2012.)

Our audience is made up of adult readers in families around the world who want information and inspiration about alternatives to high consumption, environmentally unfriendly, and socially destructive lifestyles. Most of our articles – even ones that primarily discuss problems and issues – contain a strong how-to component with information that will help readers apply green living principles and practices to their daily lives. They also focus on empowering readers to think for themselves, to make and trust their own decisions, to live self-reliantly, and to get involved in making change in their own communities.

We are looking for articles written by people who are involved with and have first-hand knowledge of their topics. Knowing your topic is more important than being a great writer; we can help you with the "how" if you know the "what." We are looking for contributors who can write simply and clearly, in concise, non-academic prose, rather than as professional "experts." Our style is friendly but not folksy, polished but not academic. We don't mind being controversial, but avoid sensationalism.

Most of Natural Life Magazine's readers are quite knowledgeable about green and healthy living issues, so articles should not be presented at a basic or "entry" level of sophistication. We are looking for in-depth coverage of topics that aren't covered in other magazines or media, and for a new perspective on green living, social change, and wellness topics. For a profile of our readership, please see the results of this survey. Articles should reflect Natural Life's international focus; we have subscribers across the United States, in Canada, Australia and the UK, and in many other English-speaking countries around the world. 

What We're Looking For (and not)

We are always on the outlook for how-to articles that are positive and solutions-oriented about green living, non-coercive parenting, democratic education, sustainable housing, wellness, and organic gardening, as well as interviews with and profiles of people (known and unknown) who are making a difference in these subject areas.

We do not encourage change-through-shopping.

We occasionally accept well researched articles on natural health, but not about natural health products. If you propose an article on this topic, please be prepared to back it up with solid research. We and our readers are skeptics about everything from Big Pharma to alternative therapies, with our trust leaning towards the latter.

If you are considering submitting an eco-travel article, please note that we do not encourage air travel for tourism purposes and do not promote commercial properties.

From the education perspective, we are especially looking for real-life personal experiences of people of all ages who have learned without conventional schooling – either academic subjects or life skills – as well as articles about democratic schools and progressive education. We favor first-person experience pieces by parents and learners of all ages who are living a self-directed learning lifestyle, whether that is at home or in a free school. (We also publish Life Learning Magazine), which is devoted entirely to homeschooling, unschooling and self-education so you might want to submit there instead.)

From the natural parenting perspective, please note that we are pro-breastfeeding and adhere to the World HeaIth Organization's International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. (We also publish Natural Child Magazine, which is devoted entirely to natural parenting, so you might want to submit there instead.)

Gardening, farming, and landscaping articles must focus on organic, biodynamic, permaculture, or other natural methods and not employ agricultural chemicals or polluting machinery. They should use the principles of re-using and recycling where at all possible, and not promote specific products or brands.

Food-related articles, including recipes, should not contain unhealthy ingredients (which includes sugar, food colorings, and other additives, as well as GMOs). Nor should they contain references to specific products, brands, or companies. Recipes should involve from-scratch cooking and avoid the use of ingredients from cans. We don't favor one type of diet over another, but do promote organic, locally sourced, and home-grown food. Any health or philosophical claims made must be backed up with evidence of unbiased research.

Since we are not a naturalist magazine, we seldom accept articles about Nature experiences (unless they are about getting children involved with Nature) or animals (endangered or otherwise). We do not publish articles written for children. We do not publish event notices or articles about events that have occurred. We do not publish poetry. When we provide news about environmental or social problems, or public policy issues, the problem must be presented in the context of offering solutions that individuals can implement, and the solutions should be the focus of the article. We are not accepting proposals for regular columns but welcome your proposal for one or two articles on related topics.

The only products we review or write about in any way are books, films, and CDs, and those reviews are written in-house. We do not publish "advertorials" or articles profiling or intended to promote specific products, services, businesses, or organizations. We do not publish shopping guides or gift guides. In fact, we try to avoid mentioning products or companies by name in our articles, except in our review column. Here is more information on our ethics policy.

How to Query Us

We recommend that you study the magazine prior to querying us. Here is an index of some of the articles that appear for free on the website. The recent magazine covers to the right of this page click through to their tables of contents. And here is a list of some older back issues.

Please do not send us general "I'd like to write for you, give me some ideas" letters. When you have an article idea that you think would be suitable for Natural Life Magazine, query us by email with a detailed outline of the proposed article.

In order to help us decide whether or not your proposed article would be suitable for publication in Natural Life Magazine, we would like to see a 50- to 200-word synopsis of your proposed article that highlights the points you intend to make. We would like to know how the article will benefit our readers, why the topic is timely, how it differs from other articles on the topic that we have recently published, and why you’re the appropriate writer to discuss the topic. Explain your unique angle or perspective, and the tone or style you plan to use. Tell us about the lead or "hook" for your article, what will it focus on, what examples you might provide, and how you are going to interest readers in your article. Lastly, identify your type of sources: if you’ll be writing from personal experience, if you will be interviewing primary sources, or researching the topic in books and on the Internet. 

We appreciate knowing if your article has been published elsewhere in the past, or if you have submitted it to other publications recently. We also need to know if you have any business affiliation with any person, organization, or company mentioned in the article. And please let us know if you have access to photographs (see below for details about our requirements.)

Optimum length for articles is 2,500 words, although that is just a guideline; since we're a digital magazine, length is flexible. Since Natural Life Magazine is not a professional journal, we generally do not publish footnotes; you should work sources into the body of the article (so and so, writing in xxxx publication on xxxx date, noted that...). Most articles are accompanied by short sidebars, which provide additional how-to and resource information about your topic. Sometimes, we will extract that information from your article; at other times, we will compile the information ourselves and incorporate it into the layout. Your submission should, where appropriate, include resource suggestions for these sidebars, such as book titles, website links, organizations, etc. If your article draws on published research or "professional experts," please be prepared to provide us with your direct references if requested (although they may not be published with the article).

How We Do Things

We are not able to pay contributors. You will, however, receive a subscription. We like to barter, so feel free to make us a proposal.

Articles are accepted for publication in a particular issue of Natural Life Magazine. We require your permission to publish the article in the subscriber-only digital magazine and to possibly have it appear for free on our website, and as part of third-party CD/DVD/Internet versions or compilations of the magazine's articles. Writers retain all other rights to their work, and are therefore free to contribute their articles to other magazines or websites without our permission. However, we ask that, as a courtesy, you not publish the article anywhere else internationally while the issue of Natural Life in which your piece is running is current.

If you wish to submit photographs to accompany your article (once it has been accepted for publication), they should be medium to high resolution (200 dpi, 6-inches largest measurement minimum) electronic files in JPG format. Please include photo credit information and suggest captions (although we may not caption the photos). If the photographs have been taken by someone other than the writer, we require a release signed by the photographer. If you are submitting photos that include recognizable individuals other than you, you should have a release form on file signed by those recognizable individuals or a parent/legal guardian. We reserve the right not to include your photos if they don't fit with our layout or are not of sufficient quality.

Here are some general copyright guidelines that we have prepared for the use of all Life Media authors.

Please spell-check your article prior to sending it to us (and it's a good idea also to spell-check your query because we use that as a guide to your ability to prepare a coherent article). Your article will be edited for spelling, punctuation, grammar, clarity, space, and consistency in tune with the editorial style of Natural Life Magazine. If major renovations are required, your article will be returned to you with suggestions for reworking. We use gender-neutral language and appreciate our writers structuring their work to avoid referring to all people as "he" (accepted articles will be edited to reflect this policy). Prospective contributors are encouraged to read an issue or two before querying us. Copies of Natural Life Magazine are available by subscription, or upon request once your query has been accepted.

Articles should be submitted by email in text or Microsoft Word format. Please do not format articles in any way (fancy fonts, embedded photos, tabs, etc.). Editorial deadlines are November 15 (for Jan/Feb issue), January 15 (for Mar/April), March 15 (for May/June), May 15 (for July/Aug), July 15 (for Sept/Oct), and September 15 (for Nov/Dec).

We look forward to sharing your natural living experiences and knowledge with the subscribers to Natural Life Magazine.

Who to Contact

Editor Wendy Priesnitz

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