American Bungalow publishes three types of articles for which we recommend that potential contributors send us proposals before undertaking the articles themselves: (1) the regular feature articles that are the heart of each issue; (2) “Show Us What You’ve Done” features; and (3) essays that we publish in each issue under the heading “From Our Friends.” The following guidelines are intended to help you determine which form best suits your material and craft a submission that has a good chance of being accepted.
Click here to download a printable PDF of our Writer’s Guidelines.
Topics. Since it began publishing in 1990, American Bungalow has covered a wide spectrum of topics on the Arts and Crafts movement and its ongoing revival, with a particular focus on the archetypal middle-class American home of the Arts and Crafts era (roughly 1900 to 1930)—the bungalow—and the affordable, ecologically respectful, community-oriented lifestyle that it came to stand for. These topics have included the Arts and Crafts movement itself, historic preservation, collections and collecting, bungalow neighborhoods, renovation and restoration, new construction, gardens, art, furnishings, and ephemera (posters, postcards, stamps, etc.), among many others. (A list of categories in which we have published articles over the past two decades is appended to these guidelines.)
Now into our third decade, we have spanned a significant generational transition of readers, from those born in the 1930s and ’40s, whose interests tended to center on the historic art, artifacts and architecture of the Arts and Crafts era, to those born in the ’60s and later, who have embraced the bungalow and the bungalow lifestyle as representative of a new, deeper and more intimate respect for ecology, simplicity, heritage, conservation and community.
We invite contributions on all of these topics, but we also encourage you to surprise us: we love to publish articles by writers who have stories and discoveries they passionately want to share with readers who will treasure them.
Length. Our feature articles typically run between 1,000 and 1,800 words; articles on topics of unusual richness or scope may run to 3,000 words or more. Recent examples of longer articles are “A Copper-Mine Gem with a Multifaceted History” (Issue No. 59, Fall 2008), “Powell River Townsite: A Craftsman-Era Company Town in the Canadian Wilderness” (Issue No. 60, Winter 2008), “Edward S. Curtis’s Lost Land” (Issue no. 71, Fall 2011) and “A Sense of Place: Ecoregional Design at Mesa Verde National Park” (Issue 73, Spring 2012).
Text format. You may submit documents as Word, RTF, NeoOffice or plain-text digital files on disk (CD or DVD) or via e-mail.
Style and tone. We look for writers who are like our readers—knowledgeable, resourceful, articulate—and who can describe people and things artfully, even elegantly if need be, but always succinctly and with a sense of how to organize and tell a story in a way that rewards a reader for sticking with it.
First-person storytelling is fine, of course, but it can be treacherous when it draws too much attention to the teller. Unless you are writing a feature based on your personal experience or observation, put opinions or assertions of fact in quotes drawn from your interviewing or reading.
If you are not a regular reader of American Bungalow, the best way to get a sense of our style is to review some recent issues. Portions of the current issue are posted on our website, americanbungalow.com, where you can also read selected past articles and order copies of past issues.
Although matters of style and correctness are ultimately the editors’ responsibility, authors can always benefit from consulting The Associated Press Stylebook, which is our basic style guide, or the Chicago Manual of Style. For sharp writing wisdom, nothing beats Rene J. Cappon, The Associated Press Guide to News Writing.
Captions. Because most of our features are amply illustrated, captions (cutlines) are essential to the reading experience. We encourage you to use them generously, not just to explain what is not self-explanatory in your illustrations, but also to complement the main text in a way that allows readers who skim the article to grasp its bare essentials.
Sidebars. A sidebar (or “box”) of 300 words or so containing material that is peripheral to the main discussion of your topic but adds color or depth to that discussion can enrich the reader’s experience, and we encourage you to take advantage of this device.
Resources. If an article is describing new construction or a renovation or restoration, identify the artisans, dealers and suppliers who contributed to the project. Don’t skimp on details, because readers will want to know them. If the project involves paint, for example, find out who manufactured it and under what palette, name and product identifier it can be found. If it’s a reproduction faucet or period stove, tell us where it came from.
Photography and artwork. Strong graphic elements are very important to the look of American Bungalow. Your proposal has a much better chance of being accepted if you are able to provide or suggest quality photographs, drawings or period illustrations to accompany your piece. For articles on residences or landscapes, floor plans or drawings are strongly encouraged.
The surest way to gauge our photographic preferences is to study what we’ve published over the years. You’ll find that we strive to reproduce the worlds of Arts and Crafts arts, architecture and landscape scrupulously—as they are, not as passing fancy would have them appear to be.
We can work with transparencies, slides or prints, but high-resolution digital images are always preferable. Scanned images (e.g., of prints, drawings, blueprints or period illustrations) should be 300 dpi; photos taken with digital cameras must have a minimum resolution of 4 megapixels; more is better. We will return all of your slides or other physical materials, but if we accept your proposal we will need to work with them for approximately three months.
Copyright and permissions. Please observe and note copyright protections for all materials you submit to us. If possible, obtain preliminary permission from copyright owners and others (e.g., museums, collectors) before submitting images of their work to us. If the use of a copyrighted work must be compensated, be sure to let us know at the time you submit it.
Image files. You can submit images on disks (CD or DVD) or via e-mail or FTP. Our e-mail system can accept attachments up to 10 megabytes in size; if your files are larger than that, try compressing them, or send them on disk. We can also receive very large or numerous high-resolution files by FTP; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for FTP instructions.
Compensation. American Bungalow was a child of its founder’s passion for design and communication in the service of a unique American lifestyle. It has always been supported by its readers and advertisers, and its revenues have always been plowed back into sustaining its high quality. Articles are often written in exchange for a free subscription to the magazine or simply for the opportunity to present one’s work to a unique audience in a publication of widely admired excellence. If you have a business that deals with Arts and Crafts products or services, we may be able to trade ad space for the feature. For established freelance writers working on assignment (or whose proposals we have accepted), we offer modest compensation for a feature article, typically $280. Each case is unique, however, so please let us know on what basis you wish us to weigh your proposal.
“Show Us What You’ve Done”
American Bungalow publishes architect and homeowner renovations and new-construction articles that have slightly different guidelines than our regular features. Here we’re looking for firsthand experiences—the challenges or special characteristics of your project and how you solved them—that will resonate with readers. Those experiences, including humor, how the project affected your family, what made you decide to build a bungalow or renovate a room in the first place—are all welcome.
Although professional-quality photography is most welcome, we can also accept amateur snapshots for these features—but we still need sharp, well exposed photos to illustrate the piece. Interior shots taken with flash illumination are often unusable, so if you’re shooting indoors, please use a tripod and set your exposure for available light when it is at its optimum.
Again, drawings and floor plans are strongly encouraged when they will help readers understand the project in the context of the building or landscape.
A list of the artisans, dealers and suppliers who contributed to the project is also important. Here again, as with feature articles, don’t skimp on details. If the project involves paint, identify its manufacturer and catalog information. If it’s a reproduction faucet, period stove or striking light fixture, name its source.
“From Our Friends”
This regular “back-of-the-book” space is reserved for a short personal story or essay, usually about 600 words long, in which a reader shares a discovery, insight, surprise or epiphany grounded in the experience of living in a bungalow or in the long light of the Arts and Crafts era.
There is no model here; each essay is a model in itself, whether it is Kitty Turgeon’s admonishment that Art and Crafts is about “more than just the stuff” (Issue No. 45), Amy Rogers’s account of how she, her husband and their “little 1925 bungalow … with too many tiny rooms” survived a vicious Carolinas ice storm (Issue No. 42), or Linda Raven’s report on the death of a hen (“Pirate Jenny,” Issue No. 58). As Annie Dillard has advised, “Capturing the typical isn’t a virtue. Only making something new and interesting is.”
Please send us (preferably by e-mail to email@example.com) a brief summary of the article you propose; include samples or a description of any illustrations. (Include a SASE if necessary.) Expect a response within six weeks. When sending materials to us via surface mail, please alert the editors by phone or e-mail that they are coming; we receive great quantities of marketing and PR material, and your submission could get sidelined if we are not aware it is coming.
If you are a working writer, please include one to three samples of your published work. If you have written for other Arts and Crafts or old-house magazines, or if the material you are proposing has been pitched or published elsewhere in another form, please let us know the particulars.
And of course, if you have questions that are not answered in these guidelines, by all means include them with your letter or direct them to the editors.
American Bungalow Magazine
PO Box 756
Sierra Madre, CA 91025-0756