Contributor Guidelines

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The northeast forged our heritage. What we sell, the gear we make, the values we cherish, who we are: all of it comes from experiences among granite, spruce, birch, mud, mosquitoes and friends. No, the wild, tree-flanked summits may not be as high and the enclosed trails are poorly trodden, but they’re what we call home. Our home. These calm, isolated lakes are what we have come to know and love, and it’s landscapes like these that remind us that we are all a part of something bigger. And we may spend every day among these places, but every day we’re still surprised and left in awe at a piece we’ve never seen or known. Nevertheless, it’s not about the destination. It’s about the footprints we’re leaving on the trail and the imprints it’s leaving on us – and this place leaves some pretty big ones.

So let’s gear up, get out, and #GoEast!

And the goEast Community is here to help our readers and customers do just that by being the source for outdoor inspiration, beta, news, and stories. We’re the Northeast’s great virtual campfire.

But we need your help and writing skills to do it! You’re the industry experts so we want to share your stories, your expertise, your passions, and your thoughts with our readers! And it’s way easier to be a part of than you think!


HOW DO I WRITE?

Pitching stories (sending us the idea that you want to write about, how you want to write it, what it would include, etc.) is encouraged! It’s preferable to simply writing an entire story for submission. With pitches, we’re able to work with you to make sure – before you take your time to write it – that it fills a hole we’re looking to fill and it’s correctly written and formatted.

Send your pitches, as well as any questions, comments or concerns to our Editor, Ryan Wichelns, here.

When we receive pitches, we will work with you immediately to determine the story, provide feedback and give you a deadline, if necessary. It’s possible that we will edit and work with you on your submission before it is accepted.

Once any story is accepted, either on deadline or off, you give Eastern Mountain Sports exclusive publishing rights of that story, with your clear identification as the author, as well as the ability to edit and alter your story in any way we see fit. For more details, see here.


BUT I’M NOT A PROFESSIONAL WRITER.

We want our site and your writing to be the definitive source for high quality, accurate information for our readers, which is why we’re coming to you – the expert outdoor enthusiast – for your help and knowledge! Being passionate about the outdoors, the Northeast, adventure and whatever you’re writing about is far more important to us than whether or not you’ve been published in the Paris Review, Outside Magazine or anywhere else for that matter. You’re the ones who have been out there and done it which makes you the best people to write about it!

That being said, we’re choosy about the information we publish and the people who write it. We hold every piece to a high standard and we’re willing to work with you to get your writing to that level.

These guidelines will help us maintain a consistent level of quality and a constant voice throughout our content, but also allow your personal voice to shine through loud and clear. 


PHOTOGRAPHY

Great photos are essential to having a high quality piece of writing. We won’t accept a piece of content without them! All stories, upon submission, are expected to include a minimum of two high quality, high resolution (1400 x 600px  minimum) photos to go with the story. Landscape photos are best! You must also have taken or otherwise own these photos and have legal permission to give them to us for use.


CATEGORIES

We are accepting submissions to fill a handful of categories on the community website and elsewhere. Use these descriptions and fit your submissions and pitches into these groups:

GoEast

EMS goes local! These are largely “Guides” to specific regions, localities, hikes, trips, etc. within the Northeast.These have a strong informational and educational component and combine to make an ever-expanding northeast outdoors guidebook, written by the experts. While entertaining stories are great, these must have a strong educational component around their location – more than just a setting for the story. If you were to go someplace for an activity, these should give you plenty information on how to do it. Length and style can vary but because they don’t focus on a story, long posts will be rare in this category.

Some examples:

Gear 411

We’re not looking for gear review – rather, we want gear features. These should be first-hand accounts of a product by people who have used the product extensively, in the field. You should be an expert in that product and have ample experience using it. Gear features can be of varying formats but those tied into a story (about an experience you had while using the product, etc.) are most effective. They should strongly explain the product, it’s uses and its benefits to the customer. These will mainly be in the middle-length category but they may vary.

We’re also not looking for “Expert Advice” articles. Gear 411 posts should be less rigid and more conversational and “blog-like.”

The Review Section will also feature a weekly #MntnReview story that highlights and reviews any vaguely outdoor-related item, that is not gear, that our customers would have an interest in hearing about. Examples may include movies, books, food and drink, camera equipment, vehicles, etc. The only limits here are on creativity. Posts here are in the middle-length category, written paragraph style. Further style is dependent on the item being reviewed and the writer’s creativity. Personal anecdotes with the item being reviewed, straight-up critiques, best time to use, how to use, etc.

Some examples:

MyAdventures

This section will be full of features, people and stories. Any interesting story you can find and report on that our readers would be interested in reading about would most likely fit. These are also your own personal stories. Length should be in the medium to long range, very few will be short. It’s possible to have some overlap between MyAdventures and other sections (Discover and Reviews) depending on the content of the story.

Some example:

For employees, this section also includes stories highlighting your experience and knowledge and proving that we live what we sell. What have you done that sets us apart from other industry employees? The best stories will be badass and impressive. They should leave readers saying “What store does this person work at because I want to go meet them,” and have a greater understanding that our employees know the stuff better than anyone.

Watch for more specific story ideas and topics to be posted here, sharing the types of stories and articles we’re hoping to publish and share at specific times. You’ll be able to use as a guide for topics and inspiration!


These ideas are not all-inclusive, if you can think of a way to improve it or a different idea altogether, throw it out here! And if you’re interested in writing any of these, get in touch before someone beats you to them!

September 

  • Flags on the 48: Q&A or another feature?
  • Fall hiking and camping
    • Labor Day Weekend Backpacking Trips
    • Personal stories, lessons, anecdotes from hiking and backpacking.
    • Individual goEast guides to really good hikes/backpacking destinations. (Especially outside of the White Mountains and Adirondacks)
    • Overnight packing list.
    • Hot-weather hikes: Swimming holes, waterfalls, etc.
    • East Coast fall foliage guide/calendar (When to see it, where, etc.)
  • Outdoor photography tips and guides to individual skills (starry sky shots, framing hikers, whatever).
    • Photographing fall foliage.
  • The De Facto Guide to TK (I have a template for these)
    • Mount Washington Dayhike Guide
    • Great Range Traverse
    • Seven Carries
    • The Devil’s Path
    • Katahdin via the Knife Edge
    • Camels Hump
    • WINTER (Not until Nov/Dec)
      • Skiing Tuckerman’s Ravine
    • (Other suggestions for Northeast classics?)
  • Paddle
    • How to choose paddles/boats/PFDs.
    • Guides to paddling locations.
    • Best overnight paddling trips.
    • Guide to portaging.
  • EMS’s 50th Anniversary
    • Employee profiles: Share the stories of our longest-serving and more interesting employees (ask for a nominated person or nominate your own).
    • Other historical anecdotes: Stories from old stores, events, trips, etc.
    • The History of EMS
  • MntnReview: Quirky reviews on anything: movies, books, food and drink, camera equipment, vehicles, etc.
  • Guides’ Picks: Talk to an EMS guide and get them to highlight locations, gear items, etc. What are their favorite places to climb in the Adirondacks, favorite paddleboarding accessories, etc.

VOICE

We want to have conversations with our readers, not talk down to them. Think of this as a virtual EMS store. You walk in on a Friday night before your big trip, pick up a couple last minute items and, at the register, strike up a conversation with one of the guides who asks you where you’re going then proceeds to recommend the best leantos for you to stay in. Except here, you’re the store guide.

Show the reader how enthusiastic and excited you are about what you’re telling them, how much you love your outdoor experiences, and how much of an expert you are. Leave them with little doubt that you knew what you were talking about.


GRAMMAR/STYLE/FORMATTING PREFERENCES

Even though we have skilled editors ready to get your content into publishing shape and optimize it for the web, we like our writers to align as much as possible with our grammar standards, so the editors can focus on content rather than form. You can find some of our more important preferences here. [Based on the Writer’s Guidelines from RootsRated.com.]

Headings and Subheadings

These are guideposts for readers. They help deep readers stay on track, and help scanners find the content that they find most relevant. Use them, not merely to break up content, but to orient people for what’s coming next, and keep them engaged.

In headings, use title case, capitalizing everything but conjunctions, prepositions, and articles (unless any of these start the heading). Periods aren’t good for headings, but a question mark can work wonders. In subheadings, use sentence case, capitalizing only the first word.

Lists

Lists are great and make some things far easier for readers to get through and make sense of. Be sure: That your list follows a consistent syntax, so it doesn’t look disjointed. Whenever possible, always try to supply one photo for each corresponding item in the list.

Names and Events

Capitalize only the formal names of places and events.

Bold and Italics

If you need a formatting cue for emphasis, then choose italics, but use it sparingly. There is, however, an exception: using italics for the names of published books, periodicals, newspapers, major works of art, and full-length film titles; unpublished works, minor works of art, and television shows should be set in quotation marks.

Abbreviations and Contractions

Generally speaking, we like them because they’re conversational. But if one in particular is not broadly familiar to readers (especially in the case of some acronyms), then spell it out the first time you use it in a piece.

Starting And Ending Sentences With Conjunctions And Prepositions

It’s okay to start—or end—sentences with and, but, and or. But don’t feel that you have to.

Periods

I’m aware it’s unfair and is a disproportionate response, but if you make this mistake, you may not get an email back. There is only ONE space after a period, not two. Two spaces was the rule back when typewriters were used, but not with computers. If you do it, get familiar with the Search and Replace feature before you submit it.

Oxford Commas

Yes, please, and thank you.

Ellipses

Ellipses show that part of a sentence has been omitted. They shouldn’t be used in place of an em dash (—) or to create drama. You can also use ellipses to abbreviate quotea, indicating that some material has been left out: “It’s really a terrific place for some backcountry skiing. … I have been going there for more than 10 years.”

Hyphens

A complex beast. We generally prefer one word over two hyphenated words, simply because hyphens can make it harder to read long text. A hyphen is often necessary when an adjective can also be an adverb, to avoid confusion (e.g. half-laughing; late-blooming). Avoid using with most compound adjectives, where the meaning is unambiguous without a hyphen. Don’t hyphenate words beginning with non, unless the second word is a proper noun. And don’t hyphenate after pre, post, semi, anti, mega, micro, sub, over, super, under, and the like. To paraphrase the old comma rule: it’s clear without, leave it out. You don’t want to look like that guy who still hyphenates “e-mail.”

Em Dashes

Em dashes help give readers a natural pause in their reading—and they can be used to set off a parenthetical statement. However, they shouldn’t have spaces around them, and two hyphens do not make an em dash.

Exclamation Points

We see them as a bit of a writing crutch. In a hyped-up world, good writers can communicate enthusiasm and emphasis, perhaps even more strongly, without using exclamation points. Please avoid.

Numerals

Spell out one through nine in narrative text, and spell out a number if it’s the first word of a sentence. Feel free to use 1st, 2nd, and so on. For time, use numerals and “am” or “pm” without spaces or periods. For dates, use numerals without nd, rd, st, th. Place a comma between the month and the year and following the year, when all three are mentioned (On January 1, 2012, something happened.) Do not place a comma between the month and the year when the day is not mentioned (Something happened in January 2012.)

Pronouns And Inclusive Language

Rather than using “one” as a pronoun, it’s better to be specific (I, you, he, she, we, they). “One” sounds preachy. When referring to an unspecified person, change the sentence into the plural or rewrite it without using pronouns. Also, avoid gender-specific titles—e.g. rather than “outdoors-man,” use “outdoor enthusiast” or “Sporty Spice.” Okay, maybe not “Sporty Spice.”

Links And Keywords

When referring to another website, link as appropriate. Remember, in today’s SEO world, links to other sites are great! But don’t link from words like “Click here” or “To learn more.” Instead, write as you normally would and then simply highlight and link the most relevant keywords. And be sure to click the “open link in new tab” option when it’s available.

EMS Product

Without turning your entire story blue, linking to product on EMS.com is great! Try to have at least one or two products somewhere in each story. Use and then link the full name of the product, as it appears on EMS.com. With product-based listicles, use the full name of the product as the Subhead or list item then link that. And, obviously, don’t link to product outside of EMS.com.

Exceptions To The Rules

There might be exceptions, but they really are exceptions. If you have questions, ask the Editor.


THE FINE PRINT

For the immediate future, we can not offer any compensation for freelancers outside of writing experience and exposure.* Authors’ names will be posted on the story and there is the potential for your social media handle to be used when we share it. Plus it gets you in on the ground floor of the brand new community!

*Current Eastern Mountain Sports employees are not included as freelancers and are eligible for compensation. Email us for the details.