November 24, 2013

How To Get Your DIY Projects Published: Part 1

Thank you for all of your kind comments on my last post about being published in Altered Couture Magazine.  

So many of you deserve to get your work published, and you expressed an interested in a post with tips on how to make that happen.  Well girlfriends, your wish is my command!

 I'm going to put a huge DISCLAIMER on this post.  I'm sharing with you my experiences.  This is not to be confused with an expert's "how to" on the topic!!!

No experience needed
You don't have to be a big time blogger or even have a blog to get your work published.  Twelve days after I started my blog (the very one you're reading now) I got an email from the editor of Romantic Homes Magazine that said "If you are ever interested in submitting a project for the 'Make It' section of Romantic Homes, please contact me."  Well, I nearly died.  I photographed three different projects and emailed them to her the next morning and she picked my Vintage Framed Paper Dolls that were published in the September 2010 issue.  ...I had only been blogging 12 days! 

Yes, I said you don't even need a blog to get published.  The editor of Haute Handbags spotted my French Market bags on Pinterest and contacted me to see if I was interested in having them published.  Uhhh (duh)...Yes!  I was interested!!!  They were published in the Spring 2013 issue.  Anyone can post a picture on Pinterest, no blog needed.  

What projects are magazine worthy?
 This is totally subjective, and I can only explain it as a gut feeling.  I have done 1000's of projects, but the ones I submit are the ones I really love.  It also helps when you get great feedback on your project from friends, family, or the blogging community.  For example, with my "Altered Jean Jackets", it was when I wore it in public and strangers stopped to ask where I bought my jacket.  It was published in the winter 2013 issue of Altered Couture magazine.

Something yet to be published that I have a "gut feeling" about is my "Bulletin Boards With Shabby Lace Pockets".  I love these and they have gotten a great response on Pinterest and my blog.  My gut feeling is that it will be published.  Now, I have yet to submit the project to any magazines--but I will.  Stay tuned...lets see if my gut is right.

Does your project have to be original? 
Lets face it, very few projects are really original.  A good example is my Vintage look dress form that was published in the July 2013 issue of Somerset Life.  Goodness!!  People have been transforming dress forms forever!!!  Mine was a new dress form made to look old.  I used Walnut Ink to "age" it, and added Paris graphics with the blender pen method...Now, I had never seen anyone use this exact method.  So, the idea was not new, but my method was.  I had a new twist on an old idea.

Of course it goes without saying:  You can never directly copy someone else's project; magazines will state this in their submission guide lines.

Can it be a previously published project?
Yes and no.  It cannot have been previously published in a magazine. However, it can be previously published in a blog post or Pinterest.  In fact, most of my published projects were already posted on my blog and Pinterest.  A great example is my French Market Bags.  I wrote a blog post on them in November 2011 and they were eventually published in the March 2013 issue of Haute Handbags when the editor spotted them on Pinterest.  They had been in circulation a long time before being "found".

A word on photography 
Whether my project is "found" by a publication's editor or I submit them directly to the publication...I must have good photos.  I personally don't do a lot of what I consider "artsy" photos.  I try to take only clear, concise photos of my projects.  Many of my photos are taken with my run-of-the-mill Kodak digital because I don't want to drag out my SLR and tripod.  Through trial and error, I've realized that if I can take a photo that is (1) not blurry and (2) has good lighting, I'm happy (and publications usually are too).  Following these two standards seems to work for me when submitting project photos to magazines.  Now I won't say that I don't spend more time than I should (sometimes) trying to capture that perfect image, but the point is that we don't have to be professional photographers to get the photo just right. 
Ok, so I have the perfect project.  Now, how (and where) do I submit it?
Of course, I (and you should too) choose a magazine that is appropriate for the project I am submitting.  For instance, I submitted my altered jean jacket to Altered Couture magazine.  Alternatively, I felt my water slide decals would be perfect for the Romantic Homes "Make It" section (they were subsequently published in their November 2011 issue).

A great place to start is Stampington and Company.  They have 30 publications on topics including quilting, making jewelry, paper crafting, prims, dolls, aprons, stuffed animals, journaling, and much more. When you go to this link you will find all of their publications.  Also, their site will list the type of submissions they are presently seeking insofar as "challenges" for upcoming issues and submission guide lines. 

 In fact, look in any of your favorite magazines for submission guidelines or an email address.  Next, write a short and concise email to the editor.  Here is the email I sent to Sommerset Life about my Vintage Look Dress Forms (my subject line just said "Magazine Submission"):  

Dear editor, I am an avid reader of Sommerset Life.  I am submitting (attached is project photo) a new dress form that I altered to look old.  I would be thrilled if you would consider it for publication in a future issue.  It can be difficult to find a true vintage dress form so I think your readers would enjoy seeing how to alter a new dress form to give it that "old" look. 

Another option is to "snail mail" your project to a magazine for consideration to be published.  I have only done this once and it was returned a year later with a rejection letter.  Personally, I like the email route, but the choice is yours.  

Now you wait for a response (the hard part).  I've had editors get back to me as quick as the same day, but some respond months later (which is always a pleasant surprise after I've all but forgotten the original submission).  Alas, sometimes you never hear back.  Don't give up!!!  Re-submit in a few months, or try another magazine or another project!!  One of my rejected projects was my altered sheet music dress form...which, by the way, I still think is fabulous and this particular publisher totally missed the boat (lol)!  Always take rejection with a grain of salt.  It's just part of "the game".   

Don't forget your local newspaper
When I found out I was going to be published the very first time I thought it was the biggest thing in the whole world.  I actually considered it newspaper worthy.   The crazy thing did my local newspaper the Orlando Sentinel!!!  I sent the editor of the Style section an email that essentially said: "I wonder if you would be interested in a story on a local girl that is going to be published in Romantic Homes, a national magazine?"  The style editor emailed me back within minutes and said "Yes! Can I come tomorrow with a photographer and interview you?" (True story.  Can you believe it?!)  I was thrilled when I opened the paper and read the story about my journey in the "DIY" world culminating in getting published!  

The amazing thing about newspapers is they are syndicated around the country.  I only had 200 blog followers at that time and heard from many of them that they had seen the article in their local papers.  I have no idea how many papers the story was actually in.

  ...I still have so much to share with you about my perspective of how to get your projects published!!  

On my next post I'll cover:
How to increase your chances of getting "found"
How to write your article
Who does the photography (if you don't)?
Do magazines pay you?
The impact on your business/blog

I sincerely hope these posts will give you some perspective (and perhaps give you a gentle nudge) on the realities of getting your projects published.  If nothing else, this should show you that 90% of getting published is you making it happen!!!

You all deserve to see YOUR name in print, and I can't wait to read about your projects in the next issues of my favorite DIY publications.

Stay tuned for my next post coming after the holiday: 

How To Get Your DIY Projects Published: Part 2 

Until then, may you and your family have the perfect Thanksgiving holiday!!!  I hope you and the turkey both leave the day stuffed!!

Happy Creating!


November 20, 2013

Altered Couture Magazine Published My Altered Jean Jacket, Slip, And Flower Pin

 Remember when I did the post on "Altering a vintage slip and jean jacket"

 Well....Altered Couture published it in their winter issue!!!  How cool is that!!

They also included my fabric flower tutorial....You can find it HERE

Thank You Altered Couture It was a privilege and honor to be in your fabulous publication

I have to say it is quite a kick to see my name in print....

....And you can see your name in print too, if you want to...Maybe you just need a few tips and tricks on making it happen!

This brings me to a Question.......I was wondering if you would be interested in a post on "How to get published"?   I hesitate to write this because I don't want it to look like I think I'm some great expert.  I'm not an expert, the only reason I would honestly write it, is because so many of you deserve to have your projects published, but maybe you don't know where to start or you need a gentle nudge.  

Of course there is no secrets in "The Polka Dot Closet"...I will tell you everything I know from my experiences, including;

What projects are likely to get published?
How to contact magazines
Do magazines pay you?
How to write your article
Does it have to be a new or original project?
The impact on your business/blog
How to increase your chances of editors "Finding" your project

So, let me know if you are interested and I'll get right on it!

Happy Creating!



November 14, 2013

Two Shabby Stools

  I took a few days off after the Fancy Flea and then got right back to work.  First up was a couple of stools that I was excited to tackle

This piano bench was first.  I loved the bark cloth but it was in too bad a shape to salvage...Bummer

Using white craft paint, I stenciled this Paris graphic on tan fabric

Then added plaster flowers to the front of the stool.  Tutorials HERE and HERE

And finished it with clear paste wax followed by dark wax

Next, was this little cutie that has a heavy wrought iron base

I covered it with a pink Paris fabric.  I have done a lot of upholstery so I was surprised at how difficult it was to upholster around the little curves in the stool

I used a wire brush to clean the wrought iron then sprayed it with a matte sealer

Stools sell really well.  I will be putting these in my booth at Orange Tree Antiques and pricing them at $45 for the piano bench and $28 for the cute little wrought iron one

Now I think I'll get up on the cat perch with Billie and enjoy this touch of fall weather

Before it gets back to 85 degrees this weekend

Happy Creating!


November 11, 2013

The Fancy Flea...Other Vendors

Here's a few of the other vendors at the Fancy Flea.  

It quit raining the last couple hours and by then most of the shoppers that braved the downpours had left but, it gave me an opportunity to get out and meet some vendors and snap some pictures.

Isn't this deer head a hoot, hanging out of someones cart

I love these totes made from vintage sewing patterns

This great gum ball machine, deer head, and pumpkins were in the booth of My Three C's and East Coast Vintage Decor...These lovely ladies are located in the Wildwood Antique Mall in Melbourne, Florida

And that wraps up the November 2013 Fancy Flea!

Happy Creating

November 7, 2013

The Fancy Flea .......After The Rain

The Fancy Flea was pretty much a wash out, but it did quit raining the last couple hours and we were able to do a little set up

After the rain..... 

......We were able to take the plastic off everything and drag some of our things out of the tent, but so many things never even got out of the boxes

Of Course Barr Display my partner and I had plans for cute lace tablecloths and darling displays.....But we were too busy trying to keep things dry.

I sold a ton of flower pins, lace, 17 of the shabby lace scarves and 12 of the lace bottom jean jackets.  Honestly, I was pleased to sell anything under the circumstances. 

I never even took my signs out of the box 

But, it's Ok because everything that didn't sell went into my booth at Orange Tree antiques today

I'll finish by showing you this mannequin that was supposed to be our traffic stopper.......Our Christmas mannequin that barely got out from under plastic

This is sweet Megan a customer service rep from Barr Display.  She came to my house one night after work and we made a quick trip to Hobby Lobby with a loose vision of what we wanted.   We picked up something called Deco Mesh, a bag of bright Christmas bulbs, ribbon, a flower, some pink trim, self stick gems, gold paint and then we got busy.  

By 9 pm we had finished "Christmas lady".  We were pretty darn pleased with ourselves.  

Even though she barely made an appearance at the Fancy Flea, "Christmas Lady" will be front and center in Barr Displays Orlando showroom for the holidays.

I'll share with you other vendor booths on my next post.

Until then.........Happy Creating!