If you are reading this, you probably had a few minutes to kill and happened here by accident. Perhaps you have this site bookmarked and check it regularly for new material. Maybe you’re sitting at your desk taking a coffee break, or using your laptop at the beach in front of a five star hotel with WIFI. If you are here, you probably like reading about boats and boatbuilding. Where do these articles come from?

There are literally thousands of people writing blogs. Who needs more blather on some website? How much is there that can possible be of interest to some boatbuilder? Admittedly, Duckworks does post something new each day, but we’d be willing to bet you would like to see more about the subject you are particularly interested in.

Which begs the question. Do you have an obligation or better yet a desire to add your opinion or experience? As publisher, I can categorically tell you that if you take the time to put your thoughts down, they will be appreciated. Not just by frustrated editors like me, but also by all the other folks out there who are waiting to read what you have to say.

Whether you want to write about one of Jim Michalak’s boats or some other boat design, you may be unsure how to proceed. Rule one. Just get the words down. Type one word and then the next, and keep right on going. What are some guidelines? I thought you’d never ask.

Our readers want to know how you did everything, especially if you came up with a novel way of accomplishing some of the more tedious parts of boat building. The process is always of interest. Just this afternoon, I puzzled over the assembly sequence of the boat I am building. The instructions given in the plans are not always detailed, and can sometimes be called vague, so the voice of experience (yours) is always appreciated. And if you’d like to wax poetic, rant and rave, or better yet, insert some humor, please feel free. Your voice is what makes what you write special.

If possible, include photos. This implies that you thought you might want to write something before you started building or before you took that cruise. We always carry a camera, except the one time we didn’t even know it was still in the truck until we were ten miles from out launch point. A digital camera is especially nice for web articles, and also nice because you can take about a million photos and never need to load new film. Let the editor know where you would like each photo to be placed in the article by numbering them and indicating where each should be simply make an insertion note at the appropriate place in the text <**insert boat01.jpg**> or let us do the picture placement. We’re pretty careful.

Digital photos are easy to enhance, easy to crop, easy to save in a compressed format that web editors like. Most of us have phones and these days they take great photos.

When you are done, ask a friend, your significant other, or the guy sitting next to you to read it through. It is always hard to critique your own work. Have them check for clarity first. Does it make sense; does it read smoothly. If they have grammar skills, take advantage of them. If you intended to be humorous, it is good sign if they laugh out loud. If they ask you where they can go to start boat building, you know you are on the right track. If no friendly readers are available, at the very least, RUN YOUR SPELLCHECK and read the piece out loud to yourself.

I will throw in a bit of grammar advice. Don’t use the word ‘then’. (And then we did this, and then we did that, and then she…..) Don’t start a sentence with the word ‘and’ or ‘so’. Get rid of words that don’t need to be there, especially if they repeat what you just said. The words ‘very’ and ‘really’ can almost always be omitted.

Last but not least, a little abstract speculation about what makes one article stand out from all the rest. The very best are like the ones you hear when sitting around a fire at a messabout. The fish tales, the shark tales, the alligator tales. The time you fell in and the boat sailed off without you. Tell what really happened—don’t pretty it up. We want to hear about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let your personality, your opinions, your unique point of view loose in what you write. Your public is out there waiting.

This website lives by submissions. We depend almost totally on readers for content. I happen to think that this makes for honest and real reading – the experiences of amateurs who get no pay for their writing and no commissions for any products that they promote.

The Basics:

Our editors are pretty flexible, but we do have some druthers. We like to have articles in some form of text format. You can copy and paste the article into the body of an e-mail, or you can attach just about any kind of word processor file to an e-mail instead. The one format we dislike is PDF. For reasons too obscure to go into here, they will work for us but cause a lot more work. Most folks write in a word processor so just forward the file in the native format – don’t think you are doing us a favor by converting to PDF. A file on a disk mailed by regular snail mail will work. If you have digital versions of photos, they can be e-mailed or sent on a disk. The best format is .jpg without too much compression. Send as many as you need to illustrate the article. We may cull a few.

Thanks for taking the time to write up the details of your project. I assure you it will be of great interest to boat builders and wannabees.

When will my article be published?

As you probably know, we publish a new article each day. We try to have enough to occupy most of a coffee break and to maintain that flow of interesting material, we have to operate with a backlog of submissions. Sometimes we go a week or 10 days without a single contribution and sometimes we get half a dozen in a single day. So we have about a two or three month reserve or backlog of material to keep the output steady.

For this reason, it may be a while before you see your article in print. Please be patient. We try to publish all submissions sooner or later.

Write me anytime at chuck@duckworksmagazine.com about anything having to do with the magazine or submissions. I’m happy to answer all questions.