O Scale Trains Submission Guidelines

Revised 1/1/11

Article Guidelines

Anyone may submit articles for consideration. We’re always interested in seeing material from new writers. Occasionally, we will commission articles, but for the most part OST depends on your submissions. We want new, fresh, unpublished material for OST. Generally, if you have posted your submission online anywhere, we will not pay to publish it in OST.

We are looking for articles from model builders who feel their models and/or modeling techniques and experiences would be of interest and benefit to others. In evaluating articles, we look at the quality of accompanying photos and illustrations (diagrams, drawings, etc.), content of the how-to-material, and to a much lesser degree, the writing style. If the photos and content are good, the article can be reworked by an editor to enhance its readability.

So far, the feedback we’ve been getting says readers like how-to material; how-to paint, how-to scratchbuild, how-to kitbash, etc. Basically, readers want to know how to make their own models better. Therefore, any help or advice you can offer is what modelers want. Features on your own modeling projects make great articles. A step-by-step write-up with clear close-up photos can relay techniques and shortcuts to other modelers.

Most articles should be brief; usually less than 1500 words. However, if you have a topic of 2000 words or more, don’t think we’re not interested. We might turn it into a multi-part feature.

OST is a model magazine, not a literary journal. However, you should try to follow these guidelines:

  1. Let your personality come through in your writing and keep it simple and direct. Readers want a clear description of what you did, how you did it, and what tools and materials you used. The best way to do this is to write as if you were telling a friend how to duplicate your modeling project.
  2. Organize your article in a step-by-step manner. Start at the beginning and end at the end. (Or, as my high school English teacher used to say “Don’t count words. Make words count.”)
  3. Don’t be afraid to tell how specific products performed for your project. Also, it is very helpful if you include a list of references and a list of sources for the materials you used.

Before submitting an article re-read it and make any corrections or changes before sending it. Are product names spelled correctly? Are your instructions in the correct order? Don’t worry too much about grammar and punctuation. We’ll polish all of that in the editing stage.

Photo quality and photo content are very important when considering an article for publication. An otherwise good article might be rejected because of poor photo quality. Are your photos well lit? Are they in focus? If they aren’t, retake them before submitting the article. That’ll save us both time later on.

For how-to articles, make sure to take pictures during the actual course of the project. It is difficult, if not impossible, to write and photograph a how-to article after the model has been completed. Photos should be taken against a plain background; white, light grey, and light blue are good backgrounds. Also, the more photos you send, taken from a variety of views, the better choice we have in selecting what to use with your article. Send more photos than you think is necessary to illustrate the article. You can’t have too many photos.

Submission Requirements

Text Requirements

Manuscripts must be typed using upper and lower case letters. Text must be submitted in electronic format either by email or on a CD. We prefer text written in Microsoft Word but any word processor will produce a text-only file if you do not have Word. Do not waste a lot of time formatting text with bold or italics.

We will not consider hand-written manuscripts. We may consider typewritten manuscripts if they are done on white, unlined paper, double spaced.

Photo Requirements

Photos can be wet-film or digital. Digital photos are preferred. Digital photos must be a minimum of 1.3 Mpixels for construction and “how-to” articles. If you are submitting a layout feature that may appear on the cover, we need photos that are at least 6 Mpixels. If in doubt, contact us by email and we’ll review your digital photos for suitability.

Do not send us inkjet prints of digital photos. Do not manipulate the photos in any way before sending them. We want the photos just as they came out of the camera. Digital photos should be submitted on a CD. If your article has five or less photos, you may email them after you let us know they are coming and we agree to receive them. Photos must be submitted in RGB JPEG, or TIFF formats.

[Does anyone still do wet film?] Wet-film photos must be printed on plain glossy paper, 4×5 inches minimum, and larger is better. Do not ask for textured or “silk” print because this makes the images fuzzy when we scan them. We may accept slides but they are expensive to scan.

Photos must be clearly labeled and noted where they go in the text. Do not make up long fancy names for photos. If you are building a model of a mill, for example, number the photos in sequence like this: mill_01, mill_02, mill_03, etc. Indicate the photos in your text like this: “Photo 1 (mill_01) shows the overall layout of the mill floor. Layout the floor as shown in Photo 2 (mill_02).” This way, we know exactly where each photo goes in your article. A few extra photos of the completed item should be included to make a header photo for the article.

Illustration/Drawing Requirements

The same naming rules apply for illustrations and drawings, except that illustrations and drawings are called out as Figures, e.g., Fig. 1, Fig. 2, etc.

Illustrations/drawings should be done in a computer drawing or CAD program whenever possible. Formats that are acceptable are EPS, PDF, DXF and native Adobe Illustrator (AI).

We can accept hand-drawn sketches for illustrations as long as they are not overly complex or there are not too many of them, since we will have to get them redrawn. Too many sketches makes it too expensive to publish your article, so keep them to a minimum. Photos are always preferred to sketches.

How To Mail A Submission

If wet-film photos are included, place a stiff piece of cardboard in the envelope so the photos won’t bend. If you are sending a CD, please include a printout of the text so it can be cross referenced when necessary. If you want any of the materials back, please include a large envelope with sufficient return postage.

Payment is made on acceptance of your article. Typical payment is $150 for a short article. We may pay more for longer and/or more complicated articles. I will let you know immediately what I am willing to pay. Once I accept your article that means you should not send it or anything closely similar to another magazine until after it appears in OST. I also ask that you wait at least 6 months before sending a similar article to another magazine.

I also pay for product reviews. If you have a new items and you would like to write a review for OST, contact me first to make sure I don’t already have a review of that item. If I don’t I will let you know and pay you $50 to write the review.

Send your submission to O Scale Trains, PO Box 97, Riverdale, MD 20738-0097 or you can contact me by email. Look under the “Tell Me… How to contact OST” for my email address.


When we pay you for an article we are buying the “first serial rights worldwide”, that is the right to publish your article exclusively in OST and distribute it anywhere in the world. We retain that exclusive right for 6 months from the date of publication in the magazine. After that, the copyright reverts to the author and you can do what you like with the article.

With regard to the Internet what that means is, once you accept payment you do not have the right to post any portion of the article or photos from the article anywhere on the Internet without our permission. To do so would dilute the value of the article to us. Think about it. Why should OST pay for something you have given away for free on the Internet?

We do understand that posting a photo or two may build interest in the upcoming article, so we’re not against it completely. However, you do need to get our permission to post any photos from an article anywhere online.

The “6 month” rule applies to single articles and 2-part articles. Articles with 3 or more parts are treated differently. We may be interested in book rights for multi-part articles and, as such, will pay more for the initial publication of each part. If we have indicated that we want book rights as well as serial rights, then the work becomes the property of OST and the author gives up all claim to copyright. We will make that very clear in our offer to publish.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.