What We're Looking For
The American Gardener is primarily freelance written, and its content differs considerably from that of other gardening publications. Our readers are mainly experienced amateur gardeners; about 20 percent are horticultural professionals. Among the topics of particular interest to us are profiles of individual plant groups; innovative approaches to garden design; profiles of prominent horticulturists whose work has a national impact; plant research and plant hunting; plant conservation, biodiversity, and heirloom gardening; events or personalities in American horticultural history; people-plant relationships (horticultural therapy, ethnobotany, and community gardening); environmentally appropriate gardening (choosing plants suited to one’s region, using native plants, conserving water, etc.); and plant lore and literature. We also seek articles that describe and show how to construct simple garden features such as ponds or paths, or illustrate useful gardening techniques such as grafting, pollarding, or propagation.
We stress environmentally responsible gardening practices, including minimizing use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, preventing illegal collection of plants from the wild, and avoiding plants with the potential to escape and damage natural ecosystems.
Submitting an article proposal
We prefer that authors send us a proposal before developing a manuscript. Please note: We do not accept proposals by phone or fax; nor do we accept simultaneous submissions. Send proposals either by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail. All proposals should include a description of the proposed topic and an explanation of why it is of interest to a national audience of knowledgeable gardeners, as well as an outline of the major points to be covered in the manuscript.
When querying for the first time, authors should submit relevant writing samples, and briefly describe their personal experience with the subject matter they are proposing to cover. We look for writers who have some gardening experience or training, but who also have an ability to write in a strong journalistic style, complete with lively quotes from interviews or written sources. While ideas for articles are evaluated separately from photographs or artwork, it is helpful to the evaluation process for submissions to include information on possible sources for photographs or illustrations.
Feature articles run 1,500 to 2,500 words, depending on subject and assignment. Freelance submissions are also encouraged for the following departments:
- Natural Connections. Explains a natural phenomenon or symbiotic relationship—plant and pollinator relationships, plant and fungus relationships, plant and soil relationships, parasites, etc.—that may be observed in the garden or in nature. Runs 750 to 1,000 words.
- Plant in the Spotlight. An in-depth profile of a single plant species or cultivar, including a personal perspective on why it’s a favored plant. Runs 600 words.
- Homegrown Harvest. In this department we are looking for authoritative information on growing edible plants delivered in a personal, reassuring voice. Each issue focuses on a single crop, such as carrots, blueberries, or parsley. Runs 900-1,000 words.
Payment for feature articles ranges from $300 to $600 on publication, depending on the article’s length and complexity, and the author’s background and publishing experience. Reimbursement for travel and other expenses can sometimes be negotiated at the time an article is accepted. Payment for departments ranges from $150 to $200. We pay a 25-percent kill fee in those instances where an author has completed revisions of the text requested by our editorial staff, and the article is still for any reason considered unacceptable.