I frequently get asked questions about how to get published so hopefully I can answer a few of those questions here. Please know that I'm NOT an expert at this at all! But I've picked up a few tips along the way, so I thought I'd share them here.
First up, a few tips:
- Send in your BEST work! I can't stress this enough. If YOU can see flaws in your project, the magazine editors will surely see those same flaws! Things to watch out for: Make sure you don't have adhesive showing or edges that aren't cut as straight as they should be. Make sure things are lined up and the things that should be even, really are. Make sure your stamped images are crisp and clear. When you cut your ribbon, cut the ends on a diagonal - this will minimize fraying edges.
- Follow directions carefully! When you decide what magazine you'd like to try and get published in, go to that magazine's website where they will often have info posted on how to go about submitting your work to them. Each magazine handles this process differently, so follow their directions if you want to better your chance at getting published. If they want you to email a photo of your project, don't snail mail it in to them. If they want the photo to be a certain size, then make sure to stay within those guidelines. The directions are there to help you and you don't want to miss out on getting published just because you didn't follow directions. Some magazines even have their 'calls' posted online which will tell you exactly what type of cards or projects they're looking for that month. You have a much better shot at getting accepted if you actually submit cards for the categories they're trying to fill. If they're looking for birthday, thank you and wedding cards, submitting a sympathy card won't help you! :)
- Pay attention to your photography! When you look at your pictures, are they dark? Are they blurry? Are they grainy? If YOU can't see all of the fabulous little details in your card that make it so amazing, the magazine editors won't be able to see those details either and that may be the reason your card doesn't get accepted. You don't have to go out and by a top of the line camera but there are usually some things you can do with your own camera to improve your photo quality such as: Use natural light whenever possible unless you have a light tent designed for photographing things like your cards. Always use the macro setting (it's the one that looks like a little tulip) when taking pictures of your cards. This allows you to get up close without it getting blurry. Get to know your camera......take a look at your photos and see if anything needs improving. If it does, get out that manual and see what it says about how to fix certain problems. Your camera may have also come with photo editing software. If so, check it out and see if it has an 'adjust levels' option. This feature usually works wonders for brightening up a dark photo and letting those details on your card shine!
- Know the magazine you're submitting to! Each magazine has a different feel and publishes different styles & types of cards. Study up on the magazine you're submitting to. Does your style match the type of cards you usually see in that magazine? If not, then you might want to look into submitting to a different magazine that's a bit more like your style.
- Start a blog! A very wise woman (ahem...Nichole Heady *wink*) once told me to start a blog when I was hoping to get published. This basically serves as your online portfolio. If you keep your blog updated regularly with your work, you can sort of get your name 'out there' and when magazines or companies looking for new Design Team members come to your blog, they can see your work all in one place. There are several types of blogs out there, some of which are VERY easy to start up such as Blogger or Typepad. Blogger is totally free and Typepad charges a small fee depending on which type of blog you choose. I have a Typepad blog because I liked the options I could get with Typepad and I love the look of a lot of the Typepad blogs I've seen.
- Take good notes! Most magazines will ask you for a complete supply list, including product names, colors & even manufacturers if your card is accepted. They may also ask you for the instructions on how to make the card. If you take good notes right after you make the card (while your supplies are still out on your desk) it's so much easier to fill out those supply lists later, because you've already written down everything you need. I use a large, lined sticky note on the back of my cards, where I list all of the supplies I used on that card.
Some things to know:
Some magazines pay you with product and some pay in $$. You'd just have to contact whatever magazine you're wanting to get published in to find out that info.
Magazines work several months ahead so it will take awhile for you to actually see your accepted card published. This also means it will take awhile for you to get paid. The whole process could easily take 6 months.
Some magazines only want to see work that has NEVER been dispayed online anywhere, including your blog. Make note of this before submitting.
Know ahead of time that you WILL get rejection! :) You just will. There are LOTS of cards that I submit that are never accepted by a magazine. Don't get discouraged by that though, because the editors may have loved everything about your card except that it may have been blue when they really needed a pink one to coordinate with the other cards on that page. You just never know but even the pros have cards that don't get accepted. Don't let it get you down!
Different magazines take different amounts of time to let you know that your work has been accepted. Again, you'd just need to check with the magazine you submit to, if you're still waiting to hear something from them, but a lot of magazines don't tell you if your card was NOT accepted. They usually only let you know if your card HAS been accepted. I've heard that it could take several months to get an acceptance, however some magazines will post the notification date with their call info so you'll know if you haven't heard something by the specified date, that your project wasn't accepted. The magazines I've worked with, have all generally notified me within a couple weeks when I've been accepted, but it's different with each magazine.
Once you submit a card to a magazine, you basically just need to put it aside and wait. What you DON'T want to do is submit that same card to more than one magazine because if one comes back to you and wants it, and then a second one comes to you and they want it too, then you have to tell one of them no which is basically a waste of their time. You always want to be able to say YES and send them the card right away, if it gets accepted. If you submit a card to a magazine and you are certain it didn't get accepted (because it's past the notification date), then you could go ahead and submit it to another magazine.
A Side Note:
It seems like a lot of people really want to either be published or to be on a design team or both. My advice is this...first off, being published is a great step toward getting asked to be on a design team because the more you're published, the more you get your name out there in the industry and the more marketable you become. But more importantly than all that, just CREATE.........and ENJOY the process! You'll do your best work if you aren't putting pressure on yourself to get to that next level. Believe me, I know all about wanting to get published and thinking it could never happen to me, but you can't let that hold you back. Just keep honing your craft, so to speak, and keep submitting because you just never know where you might end up! *wink!*
There is definitely WORK involved in getting published but if that's your dream then GO FOR IT! That work is totally worth it when you see your project in print!