So you want to write for the BMW MOA Owners News? Wonderful! We are always looking for talented writers and contributors to include each month. Remember: the ON is a member-submitted publication distributed to the membership. Each author brings different strengths, areas of expertise and tales from the road to share. If you have a skill set that lends itself to technical writing, please submit a story! If you are a proficient camper and want to share helpful tips, submit! If you have just purchased a new bike and want to share your thoughts, submit! The ON exists only because of the submissions of BMW MOA members.
Below are some helpful guidelines to consider when writing for the BMW MOA Owners News. If you have further questions or concerns, feel free to contact Managing Editor Bill Wiegand at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are excited to hear from you!
We recommend that you submit electronically; either e-mail the story as a Word attachment, or type it in the body of an e-mail. You may also send it through the mail on a CD as a Word file. Include your name, member number and a suggested headline or two as part of the document. Putting your name on your story is critical, as we receive many documents every week and cannot guess who wrote which story. Also, we will need to contact you during the editing process.
Always include your name and member number on each part of your submission for easy identification (especially CDs).
Choose a tense to tell your story. Continue to use the tense you have chosen throughout the story, or as appropriate to avoid confusion. For example, if you start out in past tense by saying, “We took a trip in October,” avoid suddenly switching to present tense and saying, “I am having a great time!”
Only one space is necessary between sentences. It is not necessary to bold or use italics in your story – plain text will work until it is edited. Please use complete sentences. “Gorgeous day,” is not a complete sentence. “It was a beautiful day,” is a complete sentence. If you choose to write a story about a trip you took, please include information pertinent to readers such as total mileage, total cost, recommended model bike for this sort of riding, recommended route, what you would have done differently, accommodations, etc. Consider your audience when writing – they might want to follow in your tracks! Stories about international and domestic trips you have taken should NOT be written in a journal format (i.e. Day 1, we did this, Day 2, I woke up at 6:15 a.m. and ate waffles). Consider your audience, and save journal writing for your own personal records. Explain your trip in a way that engages the reader, and informs them of how they could do the same trip. Explain what you did right, what you did wrong, what they shouldn’t miss, what you recommend, what the highlights were, etc.
Please include no more than 20 photos per story. Be sure the shots are your best – clear and in focus pictures are what is expected. These may be sent in separately on a disc or e-mailed as .jpeg attachments. Please do not submit them as a link to an online gallery. When you send them, include your name, member number and proposed story title for easy identification.
Include cut lines (captions) for each image. A cut line identifies the people in the photographs, as well as the location and date, if appropriate. The cut line should not simply be the file name of the photo. Cut lines need to be typed at the bottom of your Word document submission like this:
Arizona 1: Paul and Mary paused for one last photo before setting out on their adventure.
Arizona 2: By the second day, we started noticing beautiful purple flowers by the roadside.
Arizona 3: And so on and so forth, each caption should be a complete sentence.
Don’t worry about cropping the images, and do no include images with a timestamp. Do not embed the photos into the story, please. Include the photos as separate attachments or files. Send your photo as it came from your camera; in the highest resolution possible. Another helpful hint: vary your images between landscape and portraits. Vertical images make great cover shots, and provide for a variety of composition. We may love your landscape photo, but it likely won't make a good cover image. While we’re on variety; take pictures from interesting angles and with interesting perspectives. We receive many pictures of signs from the same state parks and of motorcycles parked alongside roads. Photos with people in them are usually more interesting than photos of scenery. Be creative! Be original! Catch our attention!
If you would like to submit a photo, you may send us digital files, prints or color transparencies (slides). Please do not send originals, negatives or low-resolution copies (such as inkjet or dye sublimation prints). Please avoid sending photos that have not aged well; if they don’t look good in your hand, they won’t look good in print.
If sending digital photos, please submit the highest resolution, least compressed versions available. If possible use your camera's highest resolution setting and a non-compressed format, such as TIFF.
If you must use a compressed file format, such as JPEG, use the highest (least compressed) setting. The "RAW" format option available on some cameras is an excellent format for maintaining the greatest latitude for post processing. It is a non-standard, proprietary file format, however, and therefore must be converted to another standard format, such as TIFF, before submission. If sending prints, please submit glossy, not matte, surfaces. Please make sure that all materials you send are free of dust and fingerprints. Please do not write directly on the back of prints using markers since the ink may transfer to the face of the following print.
It's important to understand that photos printed in the magazine will be used at 300 dpi. Photos used on the Web are typically low resolution (72 dpi) and highly compressed and therefore not suitable to print publishing. As a general rule, images of 3MB or larger will be acceptable.
Please give your story a brief edit before sending it in, checking that names of people, places and factual information is accurate. Programs like Microsoft Word have built-in Spellchecker and Grammar checks, and are helpful. We try to catch all mistakes, but self-editing puts your story at a better stage of readiness for publication.
Have a friend read your story to ensure that it flows well, makes sense and is factually correct. Perhaps they can make suggestions to improve your story – ask them if they have any questions about your topic after reading your submission. Consider what questions a reader might have that you could answer. Write a 50-word blurb about yourself to be included at the end of your story if you wish. Tell us what you do and where you live. For example, “Laurie Macartney is a retired chemistry teacher. She works as a substitute teacher for her previous school district and works as an EMT for a local Emergency Response company. She has had her R1150R for two years. She lives in Redmond, Washington.” This gives great perspective to your readers about you. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to the Owners News. Member submissions make the magazine! When we receive your story, we will make every effort to contact you and discuss your story in a timely manner. We look forward to seeing your story in print.
What type of stories do you need? The majority of stories that we get are domestic and international travel stories. Usually, when these come in, they go at the back of a line of stories. We receive many stories about the Alps, Alcan and Dempster highways, Blue Ridge Parkway and other “high traffic” areas. We try not to run stories about the same places more than every few months, so this could push the publication of your story back. In general, the stories that are run first are local rally reviews, dealer profiles, product reviews, technical articles, bike model introductions and timely material. Members are asking for stories explaining how to do maintenance to their motorcycles, so we run these as soon as we can. Stories involving a trip you took or an event you participated in normally run in the order in which they were received (unless they must be sent back to the author for extensive editing).
What format is best for you? As mentioned above, a Word document will suffice. Keep it simple. We work with documents in 12 point Times New Roman font. Photos and captions should be submitted separately.
I’m not a member. Can I contribute? The Owners News is a magazine written by and for the members of the BMW MOA. We give members precedence, and as a rule do not publish stories from non-members. Please consider joining the MOA if you would like to have a story published and receive a magazine.
I have a great idea for a story! Will you write a story about this person/topic? At this time, the staff of the ON does not have the resources to author stories. We depend on members to write the great stories that appear each month. If you would like to see it in print, consider writing it yourself or finding another member to write it.
When will my story run? Why hasn’t it run yet? At times, we have multiple submissions on the same subject matter (riding in popular locations). We publish a variety of stories each month, and only have room for a few features in each magazine. An effort is made to publish different kinds of stories in each issue to create a balance of international and domestic travel stories, personal stories, maintenance stories, etc. If your story has not been published, it is on a list along with the date you submitted it and will be considered in the order in which it was received. An effort is made to publish every quality story that we receive. When we begin the editing process, you will be notified. If you want to ensure faster publication, please make note of the type of stories listed above.
How do your deadlines work? Bill and Karin work on a 45-day lead time for publication. For example, if it is March, the April issue is likely at the printer or being mailed, the May issue is in the layout stages, and the June issue is being edited. Please take this into consideration when submitting timely material, especially rally information for When & Where. Plan ahead and have your story printed on time to dissipate your information to the membership. Try to follow deadlines when given as this ensures that your story will be published on time.
Can I get extra copies of my story? Absolutely. Authors may request extra copies of their story by calling the office at 636-394-7277 or e-mailing Country Store Manager Rhonda at email@example.com. Electronic versions are available by calling Bill or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
How long should my story be? We try to limit our feature stories to 1,200 or 2,000 words. Stories that are longer can be split into segments and part of them will be published as an online bonus. Your submission should be long enough to get your story told, but short enough to hold the reader’s attention.
BMW Owners News submissions accepted only from current members of the BMW MOA and assume granting of first serial publication rights within and on the BMW MOA Web site and use in any future compendium of articles. No payments will be made and submissions will not be returned. The BMW MOA reserves the right to refuse, edit or modify submissions.
Bill Wiegand, Managing Editor