Updated: September 2022
Short version (TL;DR)
- Write an informative article about gunsmithing and/or of interest to gunsmiths. Save as a simple text file with no special formatting. Do not embed pictures in the article.
- Take high-resolution digital pictures to illustrate your article. Rename the pictures files as numbers (eg., 01.jpg) that correspond with the caption number. Do NOT embed the pictures in your article! Submit each picture as an individual file.
- Write captions describing each picture. Identify which picture file name (eg., 01.jpg) the caption describes. List the captions in a simple text file separate from the article with no special formatting in the order you’d like the pictures to appear in your article. Do not mention the picture number or name in your article; describe it in the caption. Do NOT embed pictures or captions in your article. Submit each picture as an individual file (01.jpg, 02.jpg, etc.)
- Send the article file, caption file, and picture files to the editor using WeTransfer or a similar file transfer. This is better than direct email.
- Include your mailing address and email address for any follow-up questions.
6021 Leesburg Pike 1022
Falls Church VA 22041
American Gunsmith Writer’s Guidelines
Use our current guidelines for submitting articles to American Gunsmith. It’s easy for all of us!
by John M. Buol Jr.
American Gunsmith, the monthly ad-free publication for all professional and hobbyist gunsmiths, needs material! We are a technical journal covering all aspects of gunsmithing. Our writers and readers include custom builders, independent and chain repair shops, and hobbyists. Topics of interest cover all facets of gun work, including repairs, customization projects, tools and tool making, and business issues. Our goal is to offer the experience of the author in the most direct manner possible. These guidelines will help us better present your article to the reader.
We encourage articles submitted on spec as we always are in need of relevant material. If you have doubts about your article or believe we already have a similar article in the works, a query sent to the editor by email is advised.
We prefer to receive your submitted article text, photo captions, and high-resolution digital pictures via an online file sharing service (https://www.wetransfer.com is recommended) as it saves time and postage. File transfer is preferred to direct email.
Submit your material as a completed, ready-to-use package with article, captions, and pictures together. With some two dozen or so regular contributors and 60-80 submitted articles per year, along with the 400-800+ pictures and captions that accompany them, getting things in pieces quickly gets out of hand. We prefer to publish articles as single and complete, however, if your material is too long for a single published article (over 5000 words with more than 20 pictures) and it doesn’t make sense to publish the material as separate articles, break it into a Part 1, Part 2, etc. Finish the entire series first and submit everything together. Multi-part articles need to have space set for back-to-back issues and we need all the material ready and on hand to determine space requirements and layout work for several issues in a row.
Learn the tools of your trade. A good gunsmith understands hand tools like files and/or power tools such as mills and lathes. A stock maker uses wood rasps. A writer, especially one submitting material for potential publication and payment, must be able to use a camera and computer well enough to write clear, descriptive prose, take quality, well-focused and composed high-resolution pictures, correspond by email, upload files, etc. Learn your craft and tools first before attempting professional work. Excuses like “I’m not really a writer” or “I’m not computer literate” are unprofessional and unacceptable.
American Gunsmith does not dictate policy or advise authors or readers on what work or modifications are appropriate or safe. We publish the experiences, procedures, and opinions from a variety of gunsmiths. Sometimes these differ. It is up to individual gunsmiths, readers, and subscribers to choose what work and modifications are best for them, their clients, and their business.
Save the text of your article in a common, open, or cross-platform format such as Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx), OpenDocument (.odt), plain text (.txt), Rich Text Format (.rtf), or similar. LibreOffice (LibreOffice.org) is our preferred suite for initial editing but we also use MS Word. The file name should be the article title (e.g., writers-guidelines.rtf).
At the top of the text include your name, snail mail address (where you want your payment sent), and email. Below that, the article Title, Deck (a sentence or two describing the article) and your byline as you want it to appear. Double space between paragraphs and subheads (hit the Enter/Return key twice) instead of using the tab key.
Do not include page numbers, headers, footers, or use any special formatting or fonts. Again, we want a basic text file. The standard, default setting of most word processors and text editors almost always works fine. These writer’s guidelines are a template of how your article text file should look. Following the author’s contact information is the Title (“American Gunsmith Writer’s Guidelines”) and Deck (“Use our current guidelines for submitting articles to American Gunsmith. It’s easy for all of us!”) and byline (“by John M. Buol Jr.”) Each paragraph and subheading is separated by a double space. No additional formatting is needed or wanted.
The body of your article can range from about 500 to 5000 words, not counting title and deck. If you have a longer article with sufficient pictures you may submit it as separate articles or as a multi-part article. Indicate each part with separate article text and caption files. Organize the pictures by putting them into separate folders/directories indicating which part the photo is supposed to accompany.
In one separate file named Captions (captions.rtf), list the captions labeled with the picture number:
Caption for picture 01.jpg
Caption for picture 02.jpg
Caption for picture 10.jpg
Caption for picture 11.jpg
The captions and pictures should be approximately sequential relative to your article. In other words, captions and pictures should be numbered in an order that flows with the topics and concepts discussed in your article. For example, in an article about a repair project, a picture of the damaged firearm might be first, followed by materials and tools, then the work in progress and ending with the final result. If there is no obvious flow, order your captions and pictures the way you think best illustrates your article. Do not mention the picture by name/number in the article. Describe it as needed in the caption.
If your article is about a specific firearm you are encouraged, but not required, to include a schematic or similar technical line drawing. Because we typically publish these at a full page width, schematics or technical line drawings need to be higher resolution than other images. 1200 DPI is best, however, a schematic that is still a minimum 300 DPI at about six to eight inches width will work. Make sure your resolution is high!
Schematics must be accompanied with a typed parts list that matches the part numbers listed in the schematic. Create a new text file (schematic-parts.txt or similar) and list each part number/ID and part description on a separate line with a tab (not spaces) in between the number. Each line should be Part Number/ID Part Description, like this:
1 Part One
2 Part Two
3 Part Three
- Turn the time stamp on your camera OFF so it is not on the picture.
- Use your camera’s highest resolution setting.
- Turn your flash OFF. An on-camera flash is harsh and washes out the image.
- Watch out for and avoid shadows of the object in the image, especially the background.
- Natural, even, soft light typically gives the best results and avoids a harsh blast of on-camera flash and shadows.
- Be certain the object is in focus! You may need to use a macro setting and/or manual focus as your camera’s auto focus may focus on something in the background instead of the object itself.
- Do NOT embed your pictures in a PDF, text file, or word processor document.
Include the pics as individual files and name them by number corresponding to the number used in your Captions file (captions.rtf) For example, 01.jpg is the first picture and described in caption 01, 02.jpg is the second picture and described in caption 02, etc.
Image quality needs to be 300 DPI digital or better with a high contrast background. Most authors use dull, white poster board or similar for a backdrop. American Gunsmith prints in black and white, however, quality, high-resolution color JPEG pics (6MP or higher) straight from your digital camera or scanner are best. See camera recommendations below.
A digital image suitable for print needs to be about four times higher resolution than one that looks good on a computer monitor. All images are converted to 300 DPI at the printed size and your pics need to be at least that good, preferably better. Make sure your resolution is high!
Example Android settings: https://www.dummies.com/consumer-electronics/smartphones/droid/how-to-set-the-image-resolution-on-your-androids-camera-app/
Send your complete article and photos directly to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. A file-sharing service such as WeTransfer (https://www.wetransfer.com) to upload your completed article, captions, and picture files is preferred. Email is a secondary option as we’ve had issues with some submissions. If emailing direct, attach as many files as possible so as to use the least number of emails and use the same subject line for each.
By submitting any material to us you acknowledge that you are the legal copyright holder of all text and images submitted and agree to offer American Gunsmith, published by AG Media, Inc., Nonexclusive Print, Reprint, Electronic, Excerpt, Anthology, and Archival Rights to your submitted material for a one-time fee. AG Media will have nonexclusive rights to display, copy, publish, distribute, transmit and sell print and digital reproductions of your work. In other words, you have the legal right to send us your material for publication and are granting us the right to edit, publish and re-publish your article and pictures, in print and/or digitally, in exchange for a one-time fee, however, you retain your copyright to your material and may reuse and/or resell your article and pictures elsewhere.
Payouts are $100 per published page (or increments thereof), including all text, photos, and captions. In addition, we provide several complimentary copies of the issue where your article appeared. Longer articles may be broken up into multiple parts and published in separate issues. Payments are made at the time of publication. Unless special arrangements are made, all submitted material becomes the property of AG Media, Inc. and will not be returned.
First-time contributors, complete and submit a W9: https://www.irs.gov/uac/about-form-w9
Photography Tutorials and Camera Recommendations
Stanford professor Marc Levoy has made his excellent CS 178 (Digital Photography) course available online for free:
Lectures on Digital Photography by Marc Levoy –
Most reasonably-new digital cameras can produce quality images. Shot composition, keeping the object in focus and eliminating camera shake are most important. If you are shopping for a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera, pro photographer Ken Rockwell’s recommendations and user guides are good reads.
Photo.net is a major resource.
Geoff Lawrence photography tutorial
Megapixels alone do not make for a great image! Although it is only 6.1MP, the ancient Nikon D40 (or any decent Digital Single Lens Reflex camera) has good lenses and controls. I have published hundreds of photos in various print publications with mine. Modern cell phones are better and current DSLR cameras are better still. Ultimately, it is the photographer that makes a good picture. No camera can create a well-composed and sharply focused image by itself. Keeping the object sharply in focus, eliminating camera shake, watching your lighting, eliminating shadows and good shot composition is always most important!
Thanks for considering American Gunsmith. We look forward to reading your submission soon!
John M. Buol Jr.
Editor, American Gunsmith
6021 Leesburg Pike 1022
Falls Church VA 22041