Outdoor California Magazine - Submission Guidelines

Outdoor California is looking for the best in both writing and photography. We are part of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and we advocate the efforts of the dedicated men and women of the Department as they protect and conserve the wildlife and natural habitat of this state. We want writers who approach their assignment as a journalist, seeking to tell an enjoyable and compelling story through researching facts and interviewing sources. Articles should focus on CDFW efforts in caring for the state’s natural resources. CDFW’s experts from the wildlife, lands, fisheries or law enforcement branches should be included as a primary source in whatever story you’re telling.


Story topics:
Features should relate to California wildlife, natural areas, reserves or sanctuaries. They should be written as destination pieces so that readers may be compelled to visit the locations. Stories should include information from a variety of sources, through independent research, CDFW’s websites and interviews with subject experts. When appropriate, we encourage writers to relate how resource agencies in other western states deal with the topic. We discourage the use of first-person narratives unless previously approved by the editor. Stories should include compelling quotes from interviewees.

A first draft should be between 1,500 and 2,000 words (4-6 pages, typed double space). Consideration will be given to longer stories if the topic and style warrants. The editor reserves the right to cut for length, and tends to get annoyed when stories are padded for length.

Submit stories as either an attachment to an e-mail, or inserted in the body of the email. The attachment can be MS Word, WordPerfect, or Rich Text Format document. Stories can also be sent on a CD so long as it can be retrieved. (Mail to Outdoor California, Editor, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 1416 9th St., Room 1280, Sacramento, CA 95814.) We suggest confirming receipt of submissions with a follow-up e-mail to the editor. In all submissions, include the working title at the top with the author's byline. At the end of the story, provide a brief profile of the author.

Refer to the Associated Press Style manual for information on using figures, quotes, titles and capitalization. All stories should include interviews and quotes from at least one CDFW expert in the related field. Sources outside CDFW will add depth and context to the feature. The writer should plan on allowing the CDFW source to review the story before the writer submits it to the editor. Remember to write for a general audience. Avoid jargon and scientific terms, but if they must be used then explain them in terms that a non-scientific reader would understand.

Re-write and Review:
Outdoor California reserves the right to edit stories for clarity, length, accuracy and consistency. Stories on species and programs are reviewed by CDFW experts for verification. CDFW is a multi-faceted organization and most of what it does is regulated by mandates and directives. It would be unlikely that writers unfamiliar with the way CDFW undertakes its mission will capture the strategies and methods in a story’s first draft. Writers should be prepared to do at least one rewrite after submitting the story to the editor. Contacting the editor beforehand and working through the focus of the story will save confusion and extra work later on in the process. Outdoor California reserves the right to edit for clarity, length, accuracy and consistency. Stories on species and programs are reviewed by CDFW experts for verification. 


We seek the very best images to showcase in the magazine and will consider images of native fish, wildlife, plants and natural habitat, as well as underwater shots along the California coast. All images should be properly identified. Unless agreed upon by the editor prior to submission, Outdoor California does not publish images of non-native or invasive species.

We accept digital images at 300 dpi. We are no longer able to accept prints, 35 mm slides or negatives. Digital images may be emailed to the editor. However, if more than five images are expected then please send on a CD. Make sure your contact information is clearly marked with the CD and that the images are identified. The editor respects the protection under copyright law and will not publish any image without alerting the photographer.

We are unable to return images that are submitted on CD to the magazine. We will make every effort to return erroneously sent film, negatives or prints.

General Guidelines

The Outdoor California editor has sole authority to decide which stories are used. Not all articles and photographs submitted will be used, or used immediately. Some stories may be held for a later issue. Stories that require heavy editing will be held until acceptable.

If a story has a seasonal application, plan to submit at least six months in advance. For all other story, deadlines for each issue are as follows: For the January/February issue, submit by October 1; for the March/April issue, submit by December 1; for May/June, submit by February 1; for July/August, submit by April 1; September/October by June 1; and November/December by August 1. These submission dates are no guarantee that stories will run

Once printed, several copies of the magazine are usually sent to the writer. Additional copies are provided by request only.

Payment Guidelines

As a state publication, Outdoor California has a limited budget and can only pay for a few items each year. The magazine purchases the finished product, and cannot reimburse for expenses or pay for time spent researching and interviewing. Current state employee cannot be paid for photos or articles. Requests for payment of articles and photographs must be made before publication through the submission of a vendor data record. Note, as an informational publication for the state, copies of the magazine for use in classroom or other educational settings are authorized.

Outdoor California can only pay for articles and photographs after they have appeared in the magazine. Once the items have appeared, please submit an invoice on letterhead with the publication date, items listed and amount owed based on web page price lists, and the total. Sign the invoice and send it to: Outdoor California, Editor, P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090.

The editor of Outdoor California has sole authority in determining the size of the photograph or length of the story to be run. Payment is based accordingly. The word count is the number of words printed, not submitted. The photograph size is based on the size printed in the magazine.


Length Payment
 2,000 words $1000
1,500 words $750
1,000 words $500
500 words $250


Size/Location Payment
Front cover $400
Inside double page $300
Inside full page $200
Half-page or larger $150
All others $75