WRITING FOR WATER CRAFT

This revamped website has given me the chance to do something I have been wanting to do for years, which is to offer some guidance to writing for Water Craft. We do welcome your contributions and hopefully, the following suggestions may save disappointment. Yours and ours.

“BUT I’M NOT A WRITER”

The words are generally much less of a problem than the photographs or other illustrations. Most prospective contributors to Water Craft will probably have read several issues and will understand that we want your first hand experiences, amateur and professional, of designing, building, restoring and using boats. You do not have to be an expert; you do have to have done it – or listened very, very carefully to  someone who has. Literary ability is nice but not essential. The best articles we have published in Water Craft were written by people who would not consider them themselves to be writers. If you have planned a boat design, a boatbuilding project or cruise, you probably have the ability to write an article for Water Craft.  We are happy to edit your words to best effect, ghosting where needed. Do not struggle to get the article right to the last paragraph, sentence, phrase, dot and comma; we can do that together. Instead, email a draft text to the address below and if your topic is right for us, we will work with you to make it into a publishable article. We will not publish the article until you and we are happy with it. Our joint objective will be to inspire and inform and hopefully entertain our readers. So if you can see the funny side, all the better. But please be aware that we have readers in 38 countries and while most of them speak excellent ‘working’ English,  jokes which rely on knowing the catchphrases from British tv ads will fall flat.

“BUT I’M NOT A PHOTOGRAPHER”

Over the years, as a mere plaything to the whims of Art Editors, I've been instructed to ask contributors for transparencies, not prints. Then it was negs, not trannies. Now I'm told I want digital images as RAWs, NEFs or large ‘hi-res’ JPGs. This is less technical than it may appear. Most digital cameras give you the choice of various settings between filling the camera’s disk with lots of small, low-definition pictures and taking far fewer but much larger high-resolution pictures. The small ‘low-res’ images, typically taken at 72 dpi – dots per inch – can look perfectly fine on a computer screen but when we come to look at them at 300 dpi, as we need to do for print production, those images shrink literally to the size of a postage stamp.  So please make sure that you or your snapper has the camera set to the largest possible image-size and the highest possible ‘Fine’ or ‘Super Fine’ picture quality. And don’t forget to switch OFF the date/time function. Then, to be really sure, before you start taking a sequence of pictures of, say, a build, restoration or boat trip, email a sample picture to the address below and we’ll let you know whether the picture quality is publishable. As I often find myself telling prospective contributors, we can always rewrite the words; we can’t always go back and re-shoot the pix. When you send in the article, please do not incorporate the photographs in a Word or similar text document; we will only have to take all the pictures out of the text file again which can be a real time-consuming pain. That’s because we need to work on each picture file individually in Photoshop so that it meets our printer’s precise production requirements. If you have Photoshop yourself, please do NOT use it to work on your pictures. You may be be able to improve the look of them on your own computer screen but we need to get the best out of them when they appear in print – which requires very different settings and colour levels. We need the original picture file from your camera; your innocent ‘improvements’ may make a potential cover picture unpublishable. A final thought for keen snappers. We too are delighted that modern cameras make it all so easy and so cheap but the youngest of Art Editors is too old to wade through hundreds of images. Be selective: 20 good images is often enough; 50 a real treat for all of us; 100 way too many.  

“WHAT KIND OF PICTURES?”

In the early days of digital photography, we ran a very comprehensive article on how to take good publishable pictures of boats. See W40, July/August 2003 – back issues are still available. If after reading it you're still in doubt about the kind of pictures we want, you clearly need to read more issues of Water Craft. Any other queries, email me. Pete Greenfield – ed@watercraft-magazine.com