Ogrezine Writer's Guidelines
Ogrezine is a PDF magazine published by Steve Jackson Games in Austin, TX. It is devoted to the game of Ogre in its many forms. Over the 40 years that Ogre has existed, there has frequently been support from fans' in the form of articles, scenarios, fiction and artwork. Many of these endeavors found their way into the pages of The Space Gamer magazine, and some were later collected as The Ogre Book. Although earlier editions of Pyramid magazine also contained articles in support of Ogre, the current version is focused on GURPS, and thus not an appropriate vehicle for Ogre submissions. The goal of Ogrezine is to provide an outlet for fans creativity and further the game via new content. Ogrezine may be purchased through Warehouse 23.
We get many queries and submissions, more than we could ever use, so a lot of perfectly good articles get rejected. If this happens to you (and it will . . .), please don't take it personally. If the Editor has any comments or suggestions, take them to heart. If you're asked to resubmit the article after making certain changes, do it; sometimes an article simply needs a tweak or two to make it publishable. Perseverance is a good thing.
What We Want
Basically, anything related to Ogre that others might find interesting. The nature of Ogre to some degree defines the type of articles that people might write. The Ogre Book is an excellent resource to review to get a better sense of the type and style of articles that would be appropriate. All versions of Ogre are acceptable, although priority will be given to those that reflect the current versions of the game. This includes Auroch Digital's rendition of the game as well as both the venerable boardgame and Ogre Miniatures. Specific categories of articles would include the following:
Something new or surprising: This will always make us sit up and take notice. Anything that makes us push away from the computer and pull out the game to give it a try is always a win.
Scenarios: These are usually appreciated. Playtest your scenario before sending it to us. Try out as many variant strategies as you can, even the dumb ones. If we can break your scenario in a game or two, you are not helping yourself get published. The scenario should be something new or different as well. Small changes to already published scenarios are not likely to see the light of day.
Strategy articles: Have a better way of defeating the Ogre? Let us know. New players often appreciate the experience of veteran players. Share the benefits of your hard-earned lessons.
Variants: Although a common category on our forums, this is a double-edged sword. The nature of the game lends itself to tweaking and variants. These are well loved but often are not new (especially regarding variant units). That said, rules for new terrain; completely new categories of units; new ways of playing old scenarios – give it a whirl. Who knows what you might come up with for us? A subcategory of this section would include crossovers with other games, although these can have very limited audiences.
Reviews: This is a challenging category. The review should contain more than "This is a good/bad game." It should include insight into the game as well as an analysis of the various aspects of the game. This category of article will need to truly "Wow!" us for publication.
Fiction: Quality fiction is always appreciated. This is doubly so if there are gaming notes or scenario seeds associated with it. Some excellent examples are "Iron Mountain," "The Lone GEV," and "Icepick" from The Ogre Book. Do you have an insight into the world of the Last War? Let us hear those stories.
Art: We are always interested in high-quality art. Please see our Artist's Guidelines for more details.
Something . . . else: We'll finish where we started. If you have an idea for something truly creative or original that expands the game of Ogre and the Ogreverse, we want to know about it.
What We Don't Want
The list above as to what we're looking for should serve as a good guide to, well, what we're looking for. But there are some specific things we don't want to see, and you would be wasting your time and ours by sending these articles to us.
Articles with game stats for someone else's intellectual property. An article delineating the stats for the various published Bolos or another detailing the structure and organization of a Hammer's Slammer company would all likely be interesting reads, but we won't publish them. So don't send them to us. Seriously.
Articles unrelated to the game of Ogre, in one manner or another. Ogrezine is a publication in support of a specific game line, namely, Ogre. We're willing to entertain some pretty far-fetched ideas, but it still has to relate to Ogre at least in a peripheral sense.
We will look with a very skeptical eye at any submission over 5,000 words. Frequently these are an example of overwriting and are in need of serious editing. Exceptions certainly exist, and if you've written something truly Big and Brilliant, we do want to see it. In those rare cases, suggestions as to how your submission might be split into two or more separate articles are greatly appreciated.
I. Send a Query Letter (optional)
Once you have an idea, send a query letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. Say you wanted to write on hovercraft haircuts. Use a subject line like this:
[Ogrezine QUERY]: GEV Pilot Hairstyles
Then briefly describe what your article will cover. Please make note of any maps and/or illustrations that will accompany the article (including image dimensions and file sizes, if known) in your query letter. A statement as to the approximate length of the article is welcome too.
I would like to write an article detailing the various hairstyles of GEV Pilots during the Last War. I will compare and contrast the coifs from different factions, noting the derivative subtypes over the years. I have two images to include, each 4" square. The article would be approximately 2,500 words long.
Although not required, it may be beneficial to include a brief history of your published work or expertise in the area you're writing about; this helps us get to know you if we don't already.
II. Wait (if you sent a query letter)
Although we endeavor to respond to all queries quickly, it can take a while. If you haven't received a response from us within a month, feel free to send us a gentle nudge, again via email@example.com with "[Ogrezine QUERY]:" and the article's title in the subject line to help us find it.
III. Submit Your Article
If you sent in a query and we responded in the affirmative, send your article in as soon as possible. A favorable response to your query is not a guarantee that we will accept your article; it merely states we're intrigued with your concept and want to see where you go with it.
See below for the "Checklist" of items to include with your submission. We can't stress this part enough – the "Checklist" is vital to any successful submission. Submit your final article to firstname.lastname@example.org with "[Ogrezine SUBMISSION]:" and the article's title on the subject line.
Steps I and II, above, are optional as it is possible to skip right to the "Submit Your Article" stage. The advantage of using the query letter is we might know right from the start that we are not interested, and thus could save you the time and effort of writing and submitting an article we can't use. Obviously using the query letter is a longer process overall. At the end of the day it is your choice as to which path to pursue.
We will evaluate your article and respond to your submission as soon as possible. Once again, if you have not received a response from us within a month, feel free to send us a polite little reminder, via email@example.com, with "[Ogrezine SUBMISSION]:" and the article's title in the subject line to help us find it.
V. Rejoice . . . Or Retry
There are three outcomes to the submission:
Rejection – Hopefully this occurred at the query letter stage and not in response to a full article, but many excellent articles will be rejected. Please do not take this personally. If the Editor offers comments or criticism, please re-evaluate your article and try again!
Rejection, with Requests for Change(s) – Many articles really are headed in the right direction, or have a really interesting concept, but just need some more work. If you receive commentary from the Editor, please make the changes requested and resubmit your article! About half of all articles that would be accepted with changes are never resubmitted. If you have questions, ask the Editor.
Acceptance – Congratulations! We've accepted your article and it will be published. You will receive a check according to our pay scale (see below). Now you are a published writer . . . and the Editor knows your name! All articles submitted to Ogrezine are subject to whatever editing and rewriting is deemed necessary without consulting the author.
Submissions must be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and must include the following elements. If your submission doesn't conform to this checklist, we're likely to send it back to you asking for clarification and correction, or we may even reject it outright. These steps allow your article to move through the process smoothly. Please follow these directions; they exist to help all of us.
A proper subject line. Use a subject line like this:
[Ogrezine QUERY]: GEV Pilot Hairstyles
(Again, the phrase "[Ogrezine QUERY]:" should appear at the start of the subject line. It will dramatically improve response time.)
A cover letter. The cover letter preceding your article should include the following:
Your contact information. If your article is accepted, we will need your full legal name, your phone number, your email address, and your physical mailing address. If you are not a United States citizen, please let us know and we can send you a form that will allow us to pay you if your article is accepted.
Your article! The article should be spell-checked and proofread before we ever see it. Failure to do so seriously hurts your chance of making a sale. The article should have a title; under the title should be your name as you want it to appear in the magazine (many writers forget this part – don't!). We have a style guide posted on the "Writing for Steve Jackson Games" web page; please make sure your article conforms to this guide. The article should be written in American English; do not use British/Canadian spellings of words.
Any attachments required. If your article requires maps, images or charts you must provide them. At this time, we are generally unable to redraw your illustrations; if your graphics are unsuitable for publication and your article requires them, we'll probably be forced to reject your article. Unfortunately, Ogrezine does not have a huge art budget, so we can't pay much for any such pieces (although we do pay!); you should mention any maps or illustrations in your query letter, and we will let you know how much we are likely to offer at that point. If your attachments are 5MB or less total, feel free to send them with your article. If they are larger than that, then mention them in your query letter (where we should tell you what to do with them when we respond) or keep them in reserve until we ask for them. All graphics should be 300dpi and sized accordingly. Keep in mind that, unlike text, our ability to edit graphics is limited, and an otherwise-brilliant article that hinges on an otherwise-lousy looking map will probably be rejected. (Also, you must have permission to use all maps or images that you send us! Don't assume that a useful graphic you found on the Internet is "free for the taking"; it almost certainly isn't.)
- A brief description. Describe (in one or two brief paragraphs) what your article covers and the category (from above) that it fits. This can be copy/paste from your query letter unless the article has drifted substantially since you proposed it.
- A description of supplemental material. If you have maps or images that are to be included with the article, a quick summation including dimensions and files types/sizes is helpful.
- A bit about yourself (optional). If you would like, you might include a brief history of your published work, your expertise in the area on which you're writing, or any other information about your writing. This may be copy/paste from your query letter, too. Again, this helps us get to know you, but it is optional.
What We Pay
Ogrezine pays 6 cents per word, shortly after the article appears in final form in our PDF. We do the word count ourselves based upon the final, edited article.
Contributors will get a copy of the issue containing your article.
What Rights We Purchase
Ogrezine buys all rights to any original article we publish. We have the exclusive unrestricted right, in perpetuity, to use all or any part of any such article in other forms, including but not limited to reprints, special compilations, hardcopy, promotional materials, and Internet postings.
Alternative arrangements to these rights may be made in special cases; ask us.
Reasonable permission is granted in advance to authors who wish to include Ogrezine articles in a writing portfolio. We would prefer not to have to define "reasonable"; in general, if you think you are skirting (or over) the line, you probably are.
Some Tips for Writers
If you're brilliant, feel free to deviate from these points if you think it makes for a better article . . . but it's always better to break a rule knowingly than to do so from ignorance.
Style: Although Ogrezine can be a bit looser in style than, say, your average GURPS book, we still prefer to be professional. Unless your writing style is very confident and sharp, it's generally best to remain detached yet interesting; don't feel the need to include slang, pop culture allusions, or other "kewl" lingo in your piece. You can use first person language if appropriate ("In my modern horror campaign, I had the vampire prince take control of the newspapers in order to sway the city council . . ."), but often it is better to rewrite such pieces into the third person ("For example, in a modern horror campaign, a vampire prince may take control of the newspapers in order to sway the city council . . .")
Generally Avoid Absolutes: Gamers are, arguably, one of the most diverse group of people on the planet. So we often edit out blanket statements – especially those that are unfounded or likely untrue. For example, a statement like "No one uses only one howitzer in a game . . ." is probably better written "Many players won't use only one howitzer in a game . . ." Even better is making sure you indicate your intended audience early in the article: "For those who hate using one howitzer in a game . . ."
Avoid Overly Broad Articles: Articles with too wide a scope are almost always too meandering to be satisfying. Try to focus big concepts into something more manageable; articles like "How to Use Three Infantry Squads in Support of a Howitzer" or "Playing the Odds When Crossing Swamp Terrain" are more likely to cover their topics more effectively.
Length vs. Audience: Ogrezine will only print a limited number of words per issue. We need to be aware of how big an article is, versus how much of our audience will be able to use it. A long article will need to appeal to a larger audience, or be of greater interest to a smaller audience.
For example, we'll almost always have room for good 2,000-word articles, even about an obscure concept. If that article is 3,000-4,000 words, we need to look at it a bit more closely, particularly if it's focused on a little used aspect of the game. One 5,000-word article will take up a good chunk of the issue; it will either need to appeal to a large number of people, or be the best darn article about an obscure element we've ever seen.
What does all this mean? Well, a longer article about a little-used concept may be rejected, with advice to either shorten it or make it more general-purpose. (On the other hand, if a long article for an obscure concept is brilliant, we may well accept it anyway.)
Crossover games are especially tricky; if you want to write an article about crossing over Ogre Sixth Edition with Frag, then it will generally be of interest only to those who are fans of both games . . . which will obviously be a smaller group than fans of either game individually. Again, such articles will need to be short and focused, appeal to a broader audience, or be brilliant.
Read All the Guidelines.Steve Jackson Games has a lot of authors' guidelines; read the SJ Games style guide. Yes, it can take a while to read all those pages, but it takes longer to write an article that will be rejected because you didn't follow the rules.
Of particular note are the rules against libel. Ogrezine wishes to avoid any mention of real living people, including celebrities, political figures, and anyone else. Articles that contain such references will probably be rejected, with instructions to rewrite without mentioning real people if there is promise to the article otherwise. Articles mentioning real companies and organizations must also avoid libel; it's bad to describe how undead monsters, in fact, control the real company GloboMediCo. Try to avoid the headache altogether; don't say "GloboMediCo," say "a large pharmaceutical company."
Don't Plagiarize. Although this is covered elsewhere, it bears mentioning again. Plagiarizing is the taking of anyone else's work and passing it off as your own. This is especially important with "real world" articles; if you find a website detailing a list of a score of European battalions, it is not acceptable to simply reiterate that list in your own article . . . especially if your article has a title like "20 European Battalions." In the event you plagiarize, we will (of course) reject your article, and we will never work with you again.
Tie Articles to Ogre. It's amazing how many authors forget . . . especially with historical or factual articles. For example, you might submit an article about the history of communication innovations in the last millennium. It might be entirely accurate and well written, but you may forget to include any context for how it can be used in the context of an Ogre game. Without that tie, the article might well seem like one that could be found in Time, Discover, or National Geographic. One easy solution: Include adventure seeds!
It Must Be Fun. Consider this the canonical rule of Ogrezine submissions. All aspects of gaming are, ultimately, hobbies – which are supposed to be fun. And as a gaming magazine, Ogrezine strives to make sure its articles are fun.
Of course, "fun" is entirely subjective and difficult to describe. We know what isn't fun: Overly academic or formal writing, needlessly complex or pointless rules, and topics so esoteric that only a select few would care . . . these are all examples of "un-fun" mistakes that writers make. If we doze off while reading your article, its chances of acceptance aren't very good.
Make It as Flawless as You Can. Perfection is probably impossible, but dumb mistakes are avoidable. Spell-check; proofread; go over it. Have a friend read it. Steve Jackson Games publishes millions of words a year . . . everything you can do to make sure your article requires as little editing as possible increases its chances of acceptance.
If you discover your article has a significant mistake after submitting it, feel free to resubmit it. (Include a note in the cover letter that it's a resubmission.) Of course, issuing too many corrections in this way shows us that you may not know how to make it right the first time . . .
We've said it before, but it bears repeating: every Ogrezine article should make it plain that you've read these guidelines and are willing to follow them. You should also show a familiarity with our "house style" and other details described in the Steve Jackson Games Authors' Guidelines. These guidelines are a supplement to those; treat both as gospel. Exception: don't bother with a Game Evaluation Waiver. Those are for manuscripts that you hope to sell to SJ Games for publication as a game product, not for magazine articles.
Where to Get the Document You're Already Reading
Our guidelines may change occasionally; you should be working from the most current version of these guidelines. If you are reading a hardcopy that you feel might be out of date, you can always find the most current version at http://www.sjgames.com/ogrezine/writing.html.