By Eric Herman
I’m often asked what it takes to write an article for WaterShapes – and, almost as often, why it is that certain voices find their way into print while others don’t. I love to field these questions, because they cut to the heart of what we’re doing with this magazine.
Let me say right up front that we have an open-door policy for editorial submissions. All ideas are welcome, each greeted with warmth and consideration by yours truly, and that’s why my phone number and e-mail address are printed in the magazine. If you have an idea for an article, just send me a message or pick up the phone and give me a call. I enjoy these exchanges, partly because I like hearing comments about the magazine, but mostly because I love the process of kicking around ideas.
On that level, taking the first step toward publication is very simple. Beyond that, however, stands a requirement for publication in this magazine that is challenging for some. To put it in a single word, that requirement is passion.
As I work with prospective contributors, it usually doesn’t take long for us to get around to the question of what exactly an article should cover and what it should say. I know from experience that it’s frustrating to some when I ask, “What do you want to talk about? What message is most important to you?”
This might seem a copout, as though I’m shifting ultimate responsibility from myself to our writers, but the simple asking of these questions is indicative of what makes WaterShapes so different from most other trade publications. We do not “plan” our content and decide in June that we need an article on heating systems or automatic cleaners or decking materials for January. Instead, we package the ideas that come our way – as they come our way – from professionals who care enough about advancing the art of watershaping to share what they know.
Very much by design, we publish only those articles and columns that excite our contributors the most, working with topics for which they feel genuine passion. Sure, I suggest ideas and angles of attack, but there’s nothing I can do to generate passion that isn’t already there.
This single criterion is at the heart of what you see in every issue of WaterShapes: We publish articles that are important to those who write them, and we do so because we’ve found that passion and depth of knowledge – two factors that generally go hand in hand – cannot be faked. Using these touchstones, we draw information from our contributors that is more deeply felt and more meaningful than it would be if we asked them to write about their favorite sanitizer or pond liner.
To be sure, contributing to WaterShapes is no walk in the park for those who are reluctant to pull back the curtains and share the things that drive them and their work and their designs. But there’s no mystery to finding your way into print in WaterShapes. And yes, I want to hear from you if you have an idea for an article.
Just be prepared for a voice on the other end of the phone that will be asking you to reveal why communicating about your work is important to you, because if there’s a passion there, we can presume together that others will “get it” when your words and images appear in print. That passion is why our magazine is must reading for the nearly 14,000 watershapers who receive it each month.
If you’re ready to make the kind of commitment we ask of our writers, don’t hesitate to call: The door is always open.