Contributing to Slingshot

Introduction

So you want to write for Slingshot? Good for you! However, if you have not done it before it can be a daunting prospect. Of course, we would like to encourage more members to put finger to keyboard and the Editor welcomes all articles large and small. 

So here are a few helpful hints on what to include, what not to include, how you can make the lives of the Editor and his layout man (me) somewhat easier, as well some legal stuff relating to what should not be included and what rights you have, as an author, over what we print. 

We hope it is helpful and informative.

What Do We Like to See in Slingshot?

Almost anything to do with ancient or medieval military history and wargaming. Subject matter can include any era from the dawn of time up to about 1500 AD. 

This can include the following:

  • Historical articles
  • Reports of wargames, competitions or campaigns
  • Rules for creating games, table-top scenarios or campaigns
  • Army lists
  • Figure painting and terrain creation guides
  • Review of books, figures or games
  • Forthcoming events, such as the Society’s Battle Day
  • Guardroom comment on Slingshot or forum articles.

Many authors include more than one of the above in a single article. For example, an article describing a historical campaign might include suggested modifications to army lists or campaign-specific wargaming rules for its recreation as a wargame. This approach is welcomed by the Editor.

One of the misconceptions that members have is that the article has to be academic and footnoted. This is not so at all. Occasional academic essays are fine, but we want a broad spectrum. Your musings on Hannibal, Alexander, Belisarius, how knights actually fought or how to convert a baggage wagon into a Byzantine war wagon mounting two catapults are all very acceptable. Sometimes it might be a particular battle or aspect of a battle that you have something interesting to comment upon, or perhaps a figure range and how to use it, or an army and how to build it with a mix of figures. If it is about a local battlefield or castle then that too is welcome, especially with a picture!

A typical page of Slingshot contains 800 words. Articles of more than 8,000 words will normally be split over more than one issue. You may wish to structure your contribution with this in mind. Articles can be short as well as long. Half a page can be extremely useful to our Editor.

All material is published in Slingshot at the discretion of the Editor, who reserves the right to amend it. Normally, such amendments are for clarity or to correct errors and the author is not consulted. If more substantial changes are deemed necessary, the Editor will generally discuss with the author.We much prefer original material that has not been published elsewhere. If you do have an exceptional piece that has already appeared, please indicate this to the Editor.

Article formats

Slingshot is currently laid out using MS-Word 2013 on a PC, but we can normally extract something out of most formats including: 

  • Text files
  • HTML or XHTML files
  • Google Documents
  • PDF so long as the text is selectable
  • LibreOffice or OpenOffice
  • Apple Pages

Please send stuff like spreadsheets, images and other objects as separate files rather than embedding them in the text. 

Sending Us Your Piece

The Society can accept your words via many routes. Typed or even handwritten manuscripts are pretty much unknown these days. We can handle them, but it takes much longer. In this age of digital connectivity, the most convenient way to send us stuff is generally via email or the various cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Gdrive or iCloud. When using electronic methods, be sure to mention the number of files you are sending so we can check we have them all.

Style Guidelines

Every article is unique, yet as a magazine we try to impose a uniform look and feel to it all. Here are some of the things we tend to look out for. If you can fix them before you send us your piece, you will have our undying gratitude.

Spelling Although the Society has an international membership, most members use British English spellings unless it involves a proper name or brand - for example Command and Colors Ancients.

Tabs & tables If you are using MS-Word native format, then tables are generally easier to handle as we simply cut and paste them. For any other format, use tabs or plain text. 

Footnotes should be marked with [1], [2] etc in the text and then listed under a Notes section at the end. We don’t use ‘real’ footnotes in Slingshot because it is too difficult for our software to manage them.

Capitals Proper names should be capitalised. 

Uncommon terms, or terms typically capitalised in games rules but not elsewhere unless in a proper name or title (for example, general or commander), should not necessarily be capitalised - if in doubt, don’t capitalise them.

Bold & Italics If you think something should be highlighted in the text then, by all means, use bold or italic font. You could also use colour to make it stand out to us when we are laying it out. Please try and make it consistent.

Quote marks We reserve double quotes (“) for direct or attributed quotations with single quotes highlighting a ‘Title’ or an ‘idiom’.

Boxes You may notice that we tend to put some text into boxes. This breaks up a long article and can help highlight key points. If you design your article with this in mind, it helps us to reproduce it better.

Diagrams, Maps and Illustrations

We welcome photos, drawings, maps and diagrams to help illustrate your article and break up what might be an over- large amount of text. Most useful are illustrations we can use as a Slingshot front cover, but these do need to be good quality and high resolution.

We can handle illustrations in any of the common formats such as JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, as well as native format MSPowerPoint. Please identify captions and points in the document where the diagram should appear.

With maps and diagrams either spend a lot of time making something sufficiently pretty, or don’t spend a lot of time, because we will probably redo them. Scribbling something clearly on a piece of paper and sending us a scan is fine, as long as we can make it out. Be clear on any specific dimensions and make sure that where certain features are important (for example, use of particular fonts, shape of a symbol, etc) this is made clear in accompanying notes. 

Incidentally, we really appreciate being sent something pretty. 

The Legal Stuff

The rights to most published work and all unpublished ones are protected by copyright law. This protection extends for some years after the author’s death, and applies to illustrations as well as words.

Copyright prevents extensive copying but still allows ‘Fair Use’ of protected work. This is not precisely defined, but it may depend on how much of the copyrighted material is used and in what way. ‘Fair Use’ should include acknowledgement of the sources. 

The above does not apply to images, which cannot be even partially reproduced without the owner’s permission. Simply because an image appears on the internet does not mean it is in the public domain. 

Software can help check image copyright status. Many owners will grant permission for an image to be reproduced in Slingshot, typically on condition of including a note regarding their ownership. 

Our experience is that smaller organisations are more likely to be amenable than larger ones. Notwithstanding, many suitable images are in the public domain. If you have difficulty finding them, ask for help on the Society Forum.

Ideas themselves are not protected by copyright. However, it is normal practice in academic circles, and is certainly simple politeness, to acknowledge works that have influenced you, even if you are not directly quoting or reproducing from them.

The Society is an amateur body run by volunteers, and does not have the resources to set up a system of referees to check members’ submissions for any improper copying. We rely totally on the good faith of our members. Please do not risk embarrassment - or worse - to the Society by unfairly copying others’ work.

Your Rights as an Author

In general, you the author retain the publishing rights and copyright to the article’s content, in the form you sent it to us. We would also assume that we can republish that particular issue of Slingshot in other forms, such as the DVD. You can publish the article elsewhere, but you cannot grant the rights to its Slingshot form (i.e. you can’t say to someone they can just scan or copy Slingshot - we own the rights to the formatting we’ve done.). We prefer you did not republish in the same year that the material appeared in Slingshot, since it diminishes the value of the subscription, but it’s usually your call.

The Society seeks direct permission of authors to reprint articles in media other than Slingshot. For example, to print within a Society book or to include it on the Society website.