A guest post by Claire Humpherson of Beads Direct Ltd
Have you ever wanted to submit a project to a craft magazine but you don't know where to start? Take a look at these 10 top tips to get you on the right track. We can't guarantee you'll get featured but following the steps below should give you a good chance!
1. Be prepared to share, and don't be precious about your work!
This is the first step. You are going to provide people with all the instructions to make your own original design. Therefore you mustn't get upset when they do! This may sound silly but it does happen. If you can't reconcile yourself to giving away full and clear instructions then this approach probably isn't for you. But if you can, get going! Seeing how someone else has replicated or updated your design can be incredibly rewarding, and can also help you to learn.
2. Do your magazine research.
Magazines have a clear idea of what they are trying to achieve and who their audience is. Do some research and see which magazines your style suits. Look at the type of projects and techniques they feature. Don't be put off if they haven't featured you craft yet, you might be doing something really innovative! But do be wary if your style doesn't seem to fit. You're best off targeting the mags that seem to suit what you do as you could be wasting your time if you don't fit their ideals.
3. Find your unique selling point.
What is unique about what you do and why would they want to feature you? Draft a letter to the editor accordingly, telling them clearly about what you do, what your strengths are and why you would be a great addition to their magazine. Explain what you feel they are all about (and use lots of positives, a little flattery can help!) and how your designs would complement this.
If you don't think you have a USP, find one! Ask others how they see your work as they might just shed some light on why your designs are special and different. If you still don't feel like you've found it, try combining techniques or media in a way that you haven't seen anyone do before, or take a technique to the next level by experimenting. Magazines don't want to repeat what they printed last month, so take inspiration from your research and think about how you can develop a theme or idea you've seen in to something fresh and exciting.
4. Look for seasonal and special events.
You will notice that magazines usually do this as they need to remain current. If there's an event coming up that everyone will be talking about like the Jubilee or the Olympics try designing something that relates to that. Magazines will be looking for content on these themes and you could be lucky enough to provide it! Start early though as editorial teams usually accept project submissions at least 2 months before the magazine comes out, and issues are usually released around a month before their title month, e.g December issues will be released early November at the very latest. That means right about now, you should be thinking Christmas!
5. Follow trends in your craft.
I work in jewellery design so I look out for new products on the market and try to use those as early as I can. I've had particular success in this area by using shamballa style beads, which were requested by editors as they are such a big trend, and kumihimo braiding. I got in early and combined the braid with wirework adding a twist to a new trend. This design made the cover of a popular jewellery magazine and I was also asked to write a follow up masterclass article on the kumihimo braiding technique.
6. Use widely available materials to create your design.
Magazines want their readers to be able to make the project for themselves, and if they can't get hold of the items they need it can lead to unhappy readers which results in bad feedback for the magazine. If you're ever looking to use products from Beads Direct in your designs please get in touch with me, I may be able to offer some help!
7. Set up an online profile, Facebook page or blog that shows off more of your work.
If an editor has an interest in your work they may want to find out more, and having an online presence shows you are dedicated to your work. It also gives you the opportunity to display a wider range of great designs that encapsulate your skills and your strengths. You may also develop an online following that could entice magazines; if you're already popular then they know your idea is more likely to work with their readers. If you're not confident online, create a portfolio and ask if you can visit sometime and take it along to the meeting.
8. Offer to create projects for the web.
Things have to be updated much more frequently online and where there might be limited space in a monthly mag that's already been filled by regular contributors, editors may be looking for additional online content. If you work well and show them what you can do it could be a foot in the door and you could get in glossy print soon after!
9. Write well.
If you are lucky enough to get a project accepted, write well and stick to the format they ask you to work in. Get a proof reader and even test out whether someone else can create the project from your instructions. This will create a project that is easier for the magazine to work with and could result in a longer term relationship.
10. Submit early.
Again if you do get accepted, try to submit your project before the deadline. This could result in more coverage as you may be shown in the 'coming next month' pages of the issue before or get mentioned more in the mag if your design fits well with other content. If you're late the magazine may be unsure about whether it is going to arrive and this will cause them to be cautious about referring to your project on other pages.
Once you have thought about all the points above, get in contact with a small amount of editors from your hand picked favourite magazines. Their contact details are usually inside the front cover or front few pages of a mag. Email is often the best form of contact as you can attach a few images of your best work for them to look at. Editors are also very busy people with deadlines to reach so you might not get through to them on the phone! Ideally you should have a unique proposal for each magazine you choose to target, as each magazine will be looking for different content.
In summary, do your research and make sure you can clearly tell the editor what you can offer them. They might not be looking for new commissions at the time you get in touch but if you make a good impression they might just remember you and get back to you when the time is right. Good luck!