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!



Donna said...

What a great post, Carol! Thanks so much for so generously sharing with us your tips and knowledge! And a big congrats for all of your features, you deserve it:)!

Loretta Castorini said...

Well Carol, I LOVE all your tutorials! Whenever I've come across one of your projects in a magazine, I feel like 'Hey! Thats Carol!' Congrats, you talented Lady you!

vintage grey said...

Thank you for sharing! So insightful! Have a Happy Thanksgiving! xo Heather

Art and Sand said...

Thanks for the great tips, but you have to admit, you are very talented and that is why you were contacted just 12 days after you started blogging.

Congratulations on all of your wonderful features.

Betsy@My Salvaged Treasures said...

Thanks for sharing all your tips Carol. I know we'll all be seeing your gorgeous lace bulletin boards in a magazine soon. Always enjoy your projects!!

Createology said...

Thank you are a doll for sharing your experiences which are priceless! I will be reading and re-reading this post many times. Happy Thanksgiving Dear...

Iprefervintage said...

Glad you followed up on this. I enjoyed the read.

Greta said...

Thank you for sharing this with us, Carol. I've added Polka Dot Closet onto our list of favourite blogs. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

Shabby chic Sandy said...

When the kids were little I scrapbooked a lot and got published Mom called the newspaper and they did a story on me too :) I would love to get published in Romantic Homes someday--it is like a fantasy of mine. I really enjoyed this post and look forward to the next one!

weekend et coup de brosse said...

Très joli post!
Merci de ta visite et de tes gentils commentaires sur mes pages, tous les nouveaux blogs m'inspirent pour ma peinture!
Very nice post!
Thanks & Welcome for your comment and your next visit to my blogs.
Have a nice day! Cath

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Very interesting, Carol! So, a lot of it is putting yourself out there; with a better chance if you contact the magazines rather than sitting back and waiting to be "discovered". Looking forward to the next part! : )

Unknown said...

Great post!!!

Anonymous said...

You're so helpful, Carol! Thank you! ♥

NanaDiana said...

You are such a good soul to SHARE all your information here. So many people jealously guard their "secrets" because they don't want to share the spotlight. You deserve all the press you have got because you DO have one of a kind projects. I visit to see what you are up to but I also visit because YOU are YOU! Thanks again- you're a gem. xo Diana

Keith@ Vintage Crab Jewelry and Crafts said...

I can hardly wait for the follow-up(s) to this repost. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Unknown said...

wonderful info ! thanks for sharing that.

Jamie @ Domestically Vintage said...

Carol, This was so interesting to read! You deserve the recognition too. How exciting! Your board is probably my favorite project of yours that I've seen so far. Have a great week! P.S. I'm slowly changing the name of my blog from Domestically Speaking to Domestically Vintage (as I just realized that there is already a blog named Domestically Speaking...oops!) No new posts though. Just letting people know that have been kind enough to show interest in my little blog). ~ Jamie

sunnyskiesandsweettea said...

I am not a huge crafter but this is so cool! I first saw you in Romantic Homes....and then one day while I was in The Orange Tree I saw the little paper doll art and I knew you had been in the magazine.... You are so awesome at what you do. You are so sweet to share all of your ideas with the rest of us.

Amy Jo

❁Velma ~Down Our Country Road❁ said...

Very interesting! For you, it looks like it's about 50/50 with either you submitting your projects or being 'discovered'. I don't read crafting magazines (I get my inspiration online) and am not familiar with what's out there so knowing the names of some of them would be extremely helpful.
Looking forward to Part 2!! Have a blessed Thanksgiving, Carol.

Celestina Marie said...

Great post Carol, You so deserve all the features you have been in and I know we will be seeing your bulletin board soon.
Thank you for always sharing your tips.

Zuni, Chickadee Home Nest said...

Well, here you go again, Carol, being the UTMOST FAIRY GODMOTHER to so many of us--sharing your wisdom and experiences with us, so openly and freely. Thank you so much! You've answered so many of the questions that have been rolling around in my head! I am THANKFUL for you--happy Thanksgiving! ~Zuni

~Damita's Pretty Wrap~ said...

This is so wonderful!!! Thank you for sharing!! Have a lovely week! ps. I just looove your bulletin board! xo Holly

The Speckled Hen Cottage said...

Great post Carol! Enjoyed reading it, thanks for taking the time to do this.
Happy Thanksgiving~~~Mickie

farmhouse-story said...

thanks so much for sharing, carol:) (that bulletin should be published:)
have a great thanksgiving!

Trisha said...

Thanks so much for you insight.
Blessings, Trisha


I had another time a great smile at reader your post (what a job, and I can imagine the time spent). You represent one thing I love so much with American people (in Europe we are quite different) this faculty to share and to give your informations simply...
Years ago I spent a few months on the West cost from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and after way back to New York in Grey Hound : a real wonderful trip !!!
Many xoxo dearest Carol

Our Hopeful Home said...

Thanks, Carol, what a great round-up of ideas! And thanks for the nudge! Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Melodee said...

Carol, you are amazing. You need to publish a book!

Linda@Coastal Charm said...

You are so sweet to share this with all of us. I never knew we could contact them...oh silly me! Thanks so much for the info. Happy Thanksgiving!!


Heart Vintage Design said...

Great article Carol! I think your 12 days must be some sort of miracle, that is fantastic : )

Mrs. Kelley Dibble said...

What a generous sweetheart you are! Look forward to this series. So well written and thought out, my friend.

Happy Thanksgiving from Connecticut,

Bellenza Wedding Bistro said...

Lots of really great pointers in there! This is such a delightful read. Thanks so much! ♥

Francie...The Scented Cottage Studio said...

don't know anyone more deserving than you.
here to wish you a blessed Thanksgiving and to say you are on my "thankful for" list for all the things you share.

Maureen Wyatt said...

How very generous of you to give us this information! I've pinned it to pass along to others. Thanks.

Estila said...

i insist!! you ´re very generous! thanks for that divine information!
i have some DIY in my blog, but not so many visits, i hope some day make it!!! regards from an Argentinian Fan!;)

Ivy and Elephants said...

How sweet of you to share all your experience and knowledge with the rest of us. You have amazing creativity! Happy Thanksgiving blessing to you.

Teresa said...

I just read an article where they said that for ever lasting love go with your gut. It appears it applies to DIY too. Because in the end it's also a type of love, I guess.
I like all your suggestions very much and I think you are a wonderful person by sharing your humble notions and knowledge. You're a Blessing, Carol!

And I bet that mind of yours is already so many steps ahead of this - "saw" you yesterday in Pinterest and you're on a roll... again... always.
You should go with your gut and don't hold up. Many would've appreciated to have seen that "Bulletin Board With Shabby Lace Pockets" when they were fretting over what to DIY for Christmas... don't wait. Send it! Now!
It's - ALSO - a great project for after the Holidays when you want to hold a bit of the whimsy and beauty lived during it.
Happy Holidays!

hopeandjoyhome said...

You are a much needed kick in the pants Carol! I have tons of ideas and things that I have made. Sometimes I think I'd be better off letting a few of the ideas loose and see what happens!

Stampindamour said...

Carol - such great info!!! Such great blogging success stories - love it!

I'll have to send you a "catch-up" email here soon...♥

-pamela ;)

Dee ⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️ said...

Thanks for all the wonderful tips Carol. Your creative style is very inspiring and magazine worthy.

Little Miss Maggie said...

I'm just catching up with my favorite blogs and you never disappoint. This was a great article and I can't wait to read the sequel. Thanks, Carol, for sharing you knowledge so freely.

Mark Coblin said...

The best way to describe it. Thanks alot for share it.

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