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Contributors' Guide

 
Submissions

So you want to write for Fortean Times?

We are always pleased to receive well-researched, thought-provoking treatments of all aspects of the seemingly inexplicable and anomalous. We are particularly interested in original research and investigations; first-hand reports, travellers' tales and ground-breaking theories are sought and encouraged. The tone should be level-headed and accessible to the general reader. If you are seriously contemplating contributing to FT, it's a good idea to read some back issues to acquaint yourself with the types and range of our subjects and the way we deal with them.

As a rule, we are not interested in rehashes of well-worn themes covered by standard mystery books, although items derived from rare or long out-of-print sources are not excluded and older material can be transformed by a new perspective. Nor can we accept multiple submissions. Do not send to us material you have, contemporaneously, submitted elsewhere and, once you have submitted to us, do not send copies to other publishers without consulting us first. It is quite annoying to put a lot of time and resources into presenting an author's work only to find, come publication time, the same piece appearing elsewhere.

Below are the General Guidelines followed by more specific ones for each of the sections for which we invite submissions. Other sections deal with some of the conventions we use.

A brief directory of contact details can be found at the end.

General guidelines for submissions

In the first instance, please sound out your idea with the relevant editor before submission. It may accord with plans we have, duplicate something already commissioned, repeat something already published, or may simply not be suitable.

Contact addresses appear in the magazine or below. It is the author's responsibility to get the material to us in an acceptable electronic form. We will, as a rule, no longer accept hand-written or typed manuscripts; exceptions can be made but please arrange this with us first.

Please include a stamped addressed envelope or international reply coupon with any correspondence. We will try to acknowledge the submission promptly and communicate our acceptance or rejection within a reasonable period. If acceptable, the terms will be set out in a contract letter. Payments, if applicable, will be individually negotiated.

We reserve the right to edit the material to suit the presentation and available space, but wherever possible the author will be consulted on any additions or changes. Our goal is to make the best statement on the subject that we can. In any disputes, the judgement of the editors will be final.

Email submissions

Please send email submissions as either Rich Text (RTF) or Word documents.

Please do not be tempted by the latest facilities of your word processor or try to impress us with a spiffy layout. You may have been told to do this at writing school but, in reality, we have to strip out the fancy stuff before we can begin editing. Don't add to our workload; just give us the plainest text you can.

Things to avoid using are: fancy fonts; changes of font and size; centring, non-standard justification and spacing on lines, words and letters; super and sub script; underline and strike-through; coloured text and backgrounds; borders and box-lines; and formatted paragraph numbering or bulleting. The worst offender (in terms of nuisance to undo) is formatted footnoting - see below. Acceptable text formatting includes simple italic and bold in your default or normal typeface.

Footnotes

While dynamic footnotes that can be automatically renumbered as you change things may be useful when formatting a document for your own use, they create enormous problems when your file is transferred to our own templates. PLEASE don't use these automatic methods. The best way to do footnotes is to put a number [in square brackets] in the text position and collect the notes at the end of the article or on a separate page or file.

Submission

These days we prefer submissions by email (or on a disk if you are not online) sent to the editorial addresses provided in the magazine. You can attach an RTF or Word file to your email.

Please make back-up copies of your manuscript and supporting documents and illustrative material in case of loss in the post.

We cannot be held responsible for unsolicited material.

Features and Articles

General editor: David Sutton.

Our rule of thumb for layouts is to allow 8-900 words per page (allowing for headings and graphics), plus an extra page for illustrations and other material. So fully laid out articles should normally be between 1,600 (3 pages) and 3,200 words (5 pages). Anything longer must be by special arrangement.

The author should provide suitable photographs and/or line drawings - or suggest illustrations and where they might be obtained. FT's designers reserve the right to improve, adapt, hire or commission any illustration to suit the presentation. Bear in mind that some background, explanation or side issues can be presented in side-panels, freeing-up the main narrative.

The author must provide suitable captions, references, footnotes, bibliographies, reading lists and any other resource material required by FT. These should be on separate paper or in a separate file to the text file. If you are providing graphics on disk or by email, our preferred formats are JPG and TIFF. If in any doubt, please consult with the editors.

The editors reserve the right to edit and alter any of these to suit the presentation.

The material should be referenced as fully as possible, with citations of author, title of book or article, source and volume (if periodical), publisher, city of publication, date published (or date of edition used) and page number/s. It is good scholarship to provide the sources to which you refer... even if we decide not to include them entirely.

AUTHOR INFO

Readers like to know about authors; accordingly, we ask for you to supply a short paragraph about yourself that introduces you, your interest in the topic or anything else you think might be interesting or relevant. We also require a portrait to go with this - a photo, drawing or some other image to represent yourself; please provide something or you'll become an anonymous silhouette.

STRANGE DAYS

General editor: Paul Sieveking.

Strange Days - our summary of current news stories involves material of various lengths, ending with a summary of the main sources drawn upon (including Web pages). Shorter stories should fall between 200 and 500 words, but in a few cases a full page can be devoted to a single report (800 words max). We invite submissions from professional reporters, journalists and specialists, for whom a by-line will be given in the first paragraph in the form 'writes so-and-so'.

FORUM

General editor: David Sutton.

Forum provides an arena for a variety of special reports, ruminations and opinions. Most are specially commissioned, but we are always on the lookout for fresh angles. Aim for 800-900 words and please provide a three-line biography and author photo.

ARCHIVE GEMS

General editor: Paul Sieveking.

Archive Gems is an occasional slot reserved for older, archival material of particular interest. Items should not exceed 500 words and should be accompanied by a photocopy of the original report.

SIMULACRA CORNER

General editor: Paul Sieveking.

Simulacra Corner provides an opportunity for readers to send in photographs of spontaneous or natural figures or images. These can occur in nature as well as in the chance conjunction of artefacts.

LETTERS

General editor: Paul Sieveking.

Letters of comment, criticism, reply and personal experience are invited - please follow the instructions in the magazine about where to send them. Generally, contributors who feel aggrieved are guaranteed a right of reply. The editors reserve the right to edit letters to fit the space available and to curtail arguments that drag on, getting nowhere, or which stoop to recrimination or libel.

REVIEWS

General editors: Val Stevenson (books), David Sutton (films, games, exhibitions, events, online reviews).

We are always seeking reviewers with an unusual speciality that gives an edge to an assessment. We have also expanded the scope of reviews from the usual books and publications to include exhibitions, movies, DVDs, special events, computer games and so on.

Reviewers will be advised on length and where to send the review (in general, email to David Sutton, see below). No fee can be paid for reviewing but the reviewer gets to keep the book, DVD or game.

Would-be reviewers are requested not to contact publishers claiming they are reviewing a title for us, UNLESS this has been agreed with us first.

If you are interested in reviewing performances, exhibitions or other events in your area that we may not be aware of, either for the magazine or (more likely given the long lead-time for print publications) the FT website, please email David Sutton with details.

PUBLISHING DETAILS

are a vital part of a book review and should include the following data (in so far as they're applicable) in the following order

Title
Subtitle
Author/s or editors/s
Publisher / imprint
Address or website for small publishers
Year of publication
Binding & Price (use 'hb' or 'pb')
Page count (prefaced by 'pp')
Apparatus (in order, index, bib, illus, plates, maps)
ISBN number
Rating (this is usually FT's assessment)

REVIEW LENGTHS

Space is very limited, especially with the pressure on us to include more illustrative material. This is a rough guide; if in doubt, the shorter the better.

Lead reviews - usually about 700 words. Please don't submit a 'lead review' without consulting us; we'll contact you if we'd like you to handle this.

Main run reviews - 350 to 500 words. Currently, space is limited; if in doubt, consult us beforehand.

Multiple-review panels - up to 500 words. This is the tidiest way to review several books together. An overall title should be included, and the book data placed at the end.

Shorter reviews - 150 to 300 words.

ILLUSTRATIVE ARTWORK

Art Director: Etienne Gilfillan.

We are always on the look out for new artists, illustrators and photographers. If you have a portfolio, please contact our art director. Fees are negotiated.

SOME FT CONVENTIONS

Directly quoted speech - use double inverted commas.

Quotes within quotes - use single inverted commas.

Numbers - spell out numbers nine and under; for 10 and above, use numerals.

Reference numbers in text - use a numeral inside square brackets.

References to FT itself - separate issue number from page number(s) by a colon: e.g. FT84:42.

Decades are spelled out: e.g. the Thirties, not the 30s.

Percentages - 'per cent' is usually spelled out, except in tables.

Measurements - use imperial units with metric equivalents in brackets.

Ellipsis - use [..] for the omission of long passages in quoted text and... (followed by a single space) for shorter omissions. For example: 'Whatever the value of repressed memory as a concept... unquestioning belief in it has become as dangerous as belief in witches.'

UFO on its own is capitalised, while words such as 'ufology' and 'ufologist' are lower case.

fortean and forteana are in lower case.

American spelling will be changed to English unless it appears in directly quoted speech or detracts from the flavour of the writing. Proper names - such as the Center for UFO Studies - remain in American.

BIBLIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES

We prefer the following order: author (surname last), title, publication details (publisher, place, date), then volume (prefix 'v'), issue (prefix 'n') and page numbers (prefix 'p' for a single page and 'pp' for more than one). For example:

  • Charles Fort: The Complete Books of Charles Fort (Dover, NY, 1974), pp445-7.
  • Anon: 'The Luminous Toe' in English Mechanic (May 1904) v12 n242 p1371.

PRESS SOURCES

Some abbreviation is acceptable, e.g. Int. Herald Tribune. For overseas papers, we prefer the following order: place, country or state in brackets, title, date (day, month, year) as this avoids the confusion over the differing American and British conventional order of month/day, day/month.

For example: Victoria (BC) Times-Colonist, 18 Sept 1997 [BC is British Columbia].

DIRECT CONTACT ADDRESSES FOR SUBMISSIONS

General editorial, article submissions:
Fortean Times, Dennis Publishing, 30 Cleveland St, London W1T 4JD UK

News, letters:
Fortean Times, Box 2409, London, NW5 4NP, UK.

For further contact details click here!

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