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Electronic tear sheets will better your professional reputation

By Jim Foster

Fact – The folks at the Double R Ranch and Outdoor Pleasure Farm don’t have the slightest idea who you are. You made one trip to their ranch working on a story that was published with several photographs, but now they can’t remember who you are. So what’s the problem?

Did you send them a follow-up “thanks a ton, enjoyed the trip” note or e-mail? And more importantly, did you send them a copy of the published article? I’ll bet not.

In building business relationships, a little consideration goes a long way. Often, trips we plan are out of our price range, so some form of quid pro quo must be observed. I know this sends chills up the spines of newspaper people, but it’s true.

I sell articles and photographs to several publications that send me only one tear sheet. I often find myself in a quandary when I need to send out several copies to interested parties. Who will get the one tear sheet I need for my files?

In this electronic era, it is acceptable to send a “thank you” e-mail with a digital tear sheet attached.

So, what is an electronic tear sheet?

This can be accomplished in several ways, but for me it’s a small JPEG of the magazine or newspaper article highlighting the location or product mentioned in the article. It’s quick and easy with the basic working tools necessary for an outdoor communicator’s office: flat bed scanner, computer, and photo software like Adobe Photoshop.

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Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Scan your article in color and at your scanner’s highest resolution. I scan at about 8- by 12-inches at 300 dpi (standard for printing quality). For magazines, I scan each page individually. For large full-page newspaper articles, I scan them in halves. Make sure the publication name and date are showing along with your byline or photo credit. Save these images to your desktop as TIFFs.
  2. In Photoshop (or your photo editing program), open a new file, also at 300 dpi and at least 16- by 24-inches.
  3. Now, in your photo editing program, open the first two TIFFs of the scanned files and drag then into the new open, blank file, matching them up so they fit together. Now, using your program’s cropping tool, combine the two halves. For newspaper clips, use a vertical file. Save as a new TIFF.
  4. Use your photo software tools to make needed adjustments to the file, such as color correction, sharpening and sizing.
  5. You now have a 300 dpi TIFF of your complete article. This file may be sometimes 25-45 megabytes – too large for e-mailing.
  6. To reduce file size, open the TIFF you just created and use the “image size” option to reduce it to about 5- by 7-inches at 100 dpi, then save as a JPEG, selecting medium quality. This file will be around 90 to 170 kilobytes and will e-mail quickly.
  7. If you must snail mail a tear sheet you can now print out all you want from the 300 dpi TIFF file you just created.

So there you have it: an easy way to send tear sheets while keeping an original for your files. By keeping track of your published writing and sending tear sheets, you will better your reputation in the outdoor writing industry.

It works. ◊

Jim Foster is a full-time writer, photographer and lecturer specializing in writing about and photographing nature, the outdoors, travel and adventure travel. Foster makes his home in Salmon, Idaho. Contact him at jim@jimfosteroutdoors.com.

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One Response to Electronic tear sheets will better your professional reputation

  1. pqueneau November 2, 2009 at 6:00 pm #

    Nice article, Jim! One more idea: As an editor, I’ll sometimes send our writers a low-rez PDF of their articles upon request. It’s usually just a click or two for our designers to create from the master InDesign or Quark file, and even 10-pagers will stay under 5 MB — totally emailable. That way both photos and text will look perfect on-screen and be very printable as well.

    Best regards,
    Paul Queneau, Bugle Conservation Editor

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