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Texas Highways


Texas Highways magazine readers enjoy our *Speaking of Texas* column, which spotlights tidbits of history, folklore, and fascinating facts about Texas and Texans. There is no need to send a query letter regarding Speaking items; instead, send the item itself.

We use items contributed by freelance writers, crediting each writer for the item(s) he/she provides. We pay 40˘ to 50˘ per word (excluding prepositions, articles, and conjunctions) on acceptance. We print an average of three to five items, ranging from 50 to 200 words, each month. (The shorter the better; no more than one double-spaced page.) Note that we prefer lively and interesting verbs in active voice, rather than forms of the verb *to be.*

You must provide at least two reference sources (preferably more) for each item you send. PLEASE INCLUDE PHOTOCOPIES OF AT LEAST TWO PRIMARY SOURCES. (Do not send material downloaded from the Internet.) Since every item is fact-checked, the photocopies will save us time and speed publication of your item if it is accepted. If your source is a newspaper or magazine, include the name of the publication, date, issue number, and page number(s). For books, include title, author, publisher, date of publication, and page number(s).

Other than that, the sky*s the limit as far as subject matter and content--as long as it*s about Texas. We request that you examine recent columns to get an idea of what has been printed in past issues. Since 1993, Speaking of Texas topics have been included in the annual index (in each December issue).

If you would like to contribute material for the column, we would like to hear from you. INCLUDE YOUR NAME, ADDRESS, PHONE NUMBER, AND SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER as a header on each submission, and enclose an addressed, stamped envelope. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Ann Gallaway Texas Highways Box 141009 Austin, Texas 78714-1009 512/483-3675 Fax 512/483-3672


TEXAS HIGHWAYS, the official travel magazine of Texas by designation of the Texas Legislature in 1974, *encourages travel within the state and tells the Texas story to readers around the world.* The magazine, which is published by the Travel and Information Division of the Texas Department of Transportation, has gained wide respect, as well as numerous awards, for its stories and outstanding photography. The magazine has a circulation of approximately 330,000, with subscribers in every state in the nation and more than 100 countries. Surveys tell us that a majority of our readers are 60 and older, and that they especially like coverage of Texas scenery, history, small towns, and out-of-the-way places. Approximately 80% of our stories and photographs come from freelance contributors.


1. Submit a query letter outlining your proposed feature with a brief description of the scope and slant. The letter should give us some idea of the style and tone you propose to take in the story. Do not send the completed story until requested to do so. It helps to include copies of previously published articles to show your writing style. Keep in mind, however, that TEXAS HIGHWAYS never approves a story idea based on how much or where you may have published. The subject matter, slant, and style must be right for us. We are not responsible for unsolicited material. We do not accept queries over the telephone. We do not publish poetry or fiction.

2. Before you query, review the indexes found in the December issues of the magazine (the 1980 index is in the January 1981 issue). You can find back issues of TEXAS HIGHWAYS at most libraries. Since we do not publish two features on the same subject within five years, the indexes are useful in identifying previously published subjects.

3. Subjects should focus on things to do or places to see in Texas. Include historical, cultural, and geographic aspects if appropriate. Text should be meticulously researched. Include anecdotes, historical references, quotations, and, where relevant, geologic, botanical, and zoological information.

4. We do not commission articles. Material is submitted on speculation only. The author warrants that the work is his or her original creation.

5. TEXAS HIGHWAYS purchases first North American serial rights, and may reproduce the work in printed and/or electronic form.

6. Include a SASE, and allow up to eight weeks for a reply.


1. After we notify you of our interest, submit manuscripts typed, double-spaced, standard six-inch line on white paper. Length will vary according to topic (generally 1,200-2,000 words), but we prefer too much rather than not enough. Again, material is submitted on speculation only. If you use a computer to write your story, submit a hard copy along with a disk. Our preferred disk type is a Macintosh-formatted 3 1/2-inch floppy, but we can also use a PC-compatible 3 1/2- or 5 1/4-inch disk. Please save your manuscript twice--once in your standard word-processing format and again as a text file.

2. Good research is imperative. Get everything right the first time. Check and double-check facts, dates, spellings, directions, distances, heights, all matters of historical record, telephone numbers....Check and recheck everything. Assume nothing: Ask individuals how to spell their names. Do not rely on friends, relatives, telephone books, newspaper articles, or programs for an event. Put a small check mark in ink over names, addresses, times, numbers, etc. (first occurrence only), so that we know that you have verified them beyond a doubt.

3. Read a few back issues of TEXAS HIGHWAYS before submitting your story. The approach should be informal, with a polished, readable quality. Write a strong lead and ending. Use active constructions and strong verbs. Avoid the passive voice. Avoid the *to be* verb form as much as possible. Avoid first person. We welcome a sense of humor when and if appropriate.

4. Include the names and phone numbers of all persons quoted or used as information sources for your article. Check the spelling of all names in your story, then check again. Include a list of published sources, as well. TEXAS HIGHWAYS customarily fact-checks all aspects of every story. We need a telephone number where we can reach you between 8 am and 5 pm.

5. If, in the course of researching an article, you find interesting illustrations on the subject such as old photographs, period engravings, maps, or paintings, please make a note of what they are, what publication they*re in, and who owns the copyright, if any. Please include this information with your feature.

6. If you write about a place, please send us the most recent descriptive literature. If you write about an event, send us the latest program.

7. Send information for the *When Where How* box with your manuscript. Include dates, times, locations, prices, and instructions on how to get to a place or event. Be sure to include information on facilities for the handicapped. If you prepare a historical feature, furnish names or descriptions of sources (books, old letters, museum displays, etc.). Refer to recent issues of the magazine for the format and type of facts needed.

8. Please submit a brief biographical sketch that we might edit and use with your story.

9. Please submit two or three title suggestions with your story.

10. We expect you to write to the editors* specifications. When necessary, we expect you to rewrite an article at least once.

11. Except for certain in-house preferences, we use The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition Unabridged as our standard reference.

12. When your article is scheduled, an editor will work with you to resolve ambiguities and answer questions. The editor may request that you add material or rewrite portions of the text to prepare the story for publication. We cannot promise that an article will be published when scheduled.

RATES (We pay on acceptance.):

1. TEXAS HIGHWAYS pays approximately 40 to 50 cents per word, excluding prepositions, articles, and conjunctions. An average-length article earns $550. When you submit your manuscript, please send an invoice that includes the subject matter of your article, and your name, address, and social security number. Leave the amount of payment blank. We will fill it in once we have accepted and counted the story. (See sample invoice on reverse side.)

2. Please type your name, address, telephone number, and social security number on the front of your manuscript. We need this information to process payment for accepted articles. Once the editorial staff has accepted your story, payment takes about four weeks.

3. Let us know immediately if your address or phone number changes.


--Submit a list of your sources, including names, addresses, and telephone numbers. If you have used published sources, provide that information as well. TEXAS HIGHWAYS customarily fact-checks every aspect of every story.

--Submit brochures, maps, charts, or other information that will help us verify what you have written or help us in illustrating your material.

--Keep a copy of your article. Manuscripts may get lost in the mail or in our office.

--Submit an invoice with your story. This speeds up the payment process.

--Always check and double-check your information. TEXAS HIGHWAYS strives to be accurate on all counts, including spelling of names, historical facts, highway numbers, directions, place names, and caption details. Because we do not have the staff to retrace the steps of every author, we depend on YOU for much of that accuracy. Please take the time to ensure that you have included all the information we need to keep your feature correct. Thank you.



INVOICE NO. ____________ *

DATE: / /

Wrote an article for Texas Highways on the following subject:


Amount to be paid: $___________

Signed: ________________________________________________

* Be sure to assign an invoice number. (You may use any numbering system you like.)

Writing for Texas Highways
By Jack Lowry, Editor

The first thing we think of when we review a query is our readership: Is the proposed subject of interest to our readers? Familiarize yourself with the magazine, with the kinds of stories we publish, and with topics we have covered recently.

Work on your writing. We like strong leads that draw in the reader immediately. We look for writing that is accurate, clear, and concise. Think about ways to tighten your writing. For example, use adjectives and adverbs sparingly; opt for nouns instead. Favor the concrete over the abstract. Get to the point. Specify. Avoid passive constructions and the *to be* form as much as possible. When appropriate, use anecdotes, quotes, wordplay, examples, and contrast. In general, your writing should help information and ideas flow smoothly for the reader.

Keep our production cycle in mind. Queries frequently arrive too late for us to consider. For most features, we must work at least a year in advance, primarily because we schedule seasonal photography one year for publication the following year.

Expect anything you send us to be edited and possibly returned (at least once) for a rewrite.

What do we not want? Avoid superlatives that sound like advertising copy. Don*t use words whose meanings you don*t really understand. Avoid words whose meanings have become distorted through general (over)usage: *Unique* is perhaps the most common example in travel writing.

Don*t forget the basics*who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Texas Highways magazine
Jack Lowry, Editor
Jill Lawless, Managing Editor (queries for feature articles)
Ann Gallaway, Senior Editor ("Speaking of Texas" submissions)
P.O. Box 141009
Austin, TX 78714-1009

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