Friday, January 9, 2009

Publishing Your Cards

Here it is, the long awaited card publication write up I promised you. You'll notice it is quite lengthy--that is why it took me so long to post it. I wanted to be thorough.

Grab a coffee and take your time reading through my thoughts. Now please keep in mind this is not the do-all list. I am sure that there are seasoned people out there who have even more to share than I do. I based this post just on my own experience. And as you may well note (looking at my pub resume on the sidebar), I have not been published for long and I don't have a long list of publications for two reasons: 1) time 2) effort. Yes, you read that right. If you want to get published it takes time and effort on your behalf. Because I work from home, two children (one special needs child), had DT commitments etc and a shift working husband, I chose to send in my work when it suited me. The more effort I put in, the greater the chance of my publication.

Terminology: (the "what do you really mean" by that)

Pub call: is short for publication calls. It is a specific and detailed list of what the magazine is looking for.

Editorial calendar: this is a “calendar” of cut off dates for future calls

Scrappy: using scrapbook materials as the main focal point of your card (stickers, embellishments, ribbon, patterned paper)

Stampy: using stamps as the main focal (stamped images, background stamps)

Style: the “look” you see throughout a magazine.
If you are a regular reader of Papercrafts Magazine for instance, you understand the style of their magazine weighs heavily on trends, new product, fresh and unique looks.

**I’ll add to this if you need other words defined. Just leave it in the comment section below and check back for updates.

My thoughts and advice:
  1. take the risk
  2. keep submitting even if your cards don’t get picked up (but keep in mind you never send the same card to more than one magazine call at the same time)
  3. ALWAYS follow the editorial rules (keep to the call don’t submit things out of the blue)
  4. Submit monthly
  5. Ask for pointers—if you keep submitting cards and they aren’t accepted ask your blog viewers, friends etc for advice.
  6. Rejection: just because they don’t take your card doesn’t mean it is not good—it just may not fit that particular call.
  7. Persistence pays off! Don’t get discouraged.

Pub Calls

How it works:

1) Read the list of calls: either at the back of the magazines, at each magazine’s website (google the magazine name and look for their pub calls) , or at a site like Pub Calls (please note this site does not list a ton of magazine calls)

2) Make your card and either a) take a photo of it and send it in to the editor with the appropriate “call” name in the e-mail title—include a list of materials b) package it up and send it off with a list of the materials.

3) Wait for the call back. Not all magazines send out “rejection” notices. If you don’t hear back from them within a week or a month (depends on the magazine—make sure you note their call back day—you will get to know this with certain magazines over time too)
it's safe to say your card was not accepted.

4) If you get an acceptance letter, you need to prepare your materials for shipment, fill in materials lists and sign a contract.
Make sure you send it in well before the deadline and that you package it in a secure mailer or box to prevent damage during shipping. I also like to get a confirmation number or signature at its destination. For those of you who live outside of the US, please be advised it may not be possible to get a confirmation number on your package.

5) Remove cards from blog, online galleries.

6) Your card is published and you continue to send new material in following number 1 on this list. (it’s a cycle!)

How to start:

1) I almost always start in the magazine section of a store. Get to know the magazines, their styles and what they publish. Each magazine has a unique style and each of their calls are different. Here is a list of some of the magazines out there:
  • Papercrafts (and all the other magazines that come from CK Media: Card Creations, Stamp It!, etc)
  • Stampington
  • Rubberstamper
  • Crafts n Things
  • CardMaker
  • Handmade
  • Scrapbook and Cards Today
  • Paper Trends, Cards and Scrapbook Trends
  • Canadian Scrapbooker

2) Create a publication binder (trust me on this one) *You might want to print this post and include it in your binder to start with as a reference tool.

I like to label things for quick reference so here are the following tags you’ll find in my binder:

(list the “end” date for the calls) A calendar is useful to keep track of deadlines etc.

Magazine Information
(notes about magazines, their styles, things I learn about them, editor information, address etc.) Include a section with notes about the magazines you like. Honestly, if you don’t like the magazine there is no point in including it in your binder.

Current Calls (always start with the most recent calls and highlight the “end date”)

Cards sent
(it’s always wise to keep track of the cards you send in to each magazine to ensure you don’t send them twice as well as to be certain you don’t loose track of what you send in—excel is a good way to track this information—print out some blank sheets and fill in the details or just fill it in on your computer and keep it close at hand) I have a folder on my desktop that I keep all my pub materials in. I also keep track of it in my Outlook Explorer. Any time I send a card for a pub call via e-mail I CC (carboncopy) it to that folder. I also keep my acceptance letters and materials in that folder as well.

Accepted for publication
I keep a copy of the details I need for accepted publication. You normally have to fill in “paperwork” with the details about the card (a list of supplies, tips, contracts etc)

Published (I keep a copy of ALL the cards I get published). I take the page out of the magazine and place it in a clear sheet. On the outside of the clear sheet I list the issue and magazine information. This section is more like a portfolio of my work. It’s fun to look at and share with others.

3) You will be most successful if you submit cards to magazines with your style. If you are a scrappy designer then you will be successful in magazines that tend to lean on the scrapbook side of things.


  • Start small. Grow big. Don’t submit to EVERY magazine out there. Start with your favourite magazines or calls interest you. Over time you will know how to submit etc and you can start adding to your monthly submissions.

  • Some magazines want BRAND NEW CARDS (never posted online). Make sure you read their guidelines.

  • Some magazines are now limiting the number of submissions each person can send in per call. Again, read the fine details.

  • If you have posted your card online (blog, gallery etc) make sure to remove it as soon as it has been accepted.It is advisable to create an “out for publication” card and post it in place of the card you need to remove. Yes, you read that right.Make a long card with the words removed for publication.Kim Hughes has a REALLY cute one that matches her blog banner which by the way was also created with stamps and patterned paper if you didn’t guess *smiles*

  • Compensation: Varies for each publication. From free issues to free product to monetary incentives.Cards are typically on the lower scale the payment scale, whereas “sets” ( a picnic spread, spa kit, stamped and sewn items etc) are on the higher end of the payment scale.That means that you can be paid anywhere from $25-200 for each piece.Also, if your card makes the cover of a magazine you may get paid more than the standard card rate. It’s nice to be “paid” for your work because not only do you cover the supplies to make the card, you have to pay to send it, you have to take the time to submit it, you have to make a list of the materials and fill out the contracts etc.

  • Be courteous.If you are using someone else’s template or sketch layout be sure to include this information when you send in your publication.(Eg. Timeless Templates from PTI) As a general rule, stick with your original designs.

  • Trade secret: when you look at the list, think about what “calls” will fill up quickly. For instance, for a holiday issue, you can almost be certain that they will receive a lot of cards for Christmas but not has many for Hanukkah cards or cards with a unique winter twist. So the more clever the design, the better chance it will be picked up.This is where creativity counts.

  • Good photography—if you don’t have the equipment (light tent etc) photograph your card on sunny day outside. Make sure that you take photos that are uncluttered. That means don’t take the photo in front of a bunch of things.

  • Professionalism: this is like a job. You wouldn’t go to a business interview in jeans would you? (ok maybe some places you would *lol*) well that is the same way you need to look at submitting cards. The magazine business is BIG business. Send in items that look professional. Keep your photos bright, your cards clean—and looking right. Make sure your items are SECURELY adhered to your card or scrapbook page.

How do you get on the list:

If you are published quite frequently with some magazines they will automatically send you a call list. Over time this saves you the time for looking up the information
and allows you more time to focus on their calls.

Do you have any other pub related questions for me?

Also, I noticed my friend Carolyn King has also included a pub post with even MORE information about publications. Make sure you check it out. She has included some valuable tips.

Thanks for stopping by and best wishes with your publications. And just so you know, I believe in you *smiles* You are welcome to drop me a note in the future and share your experiences, frustrations or successes.



Rebecca Ednie said...

I am not that great at identifying what a magazines style is. I have sub'd to papercrafts on and off for years but I don't think I could have found the words you used to describe them. Could you give us a run down as to what each card mags style is?

Kerry J. said...

Alli - thanks so much for taking the time to share this with us! Your generosity and knowledge is much appreciated! You truly are a gifted educator! Blessings!

Andi (RrlScrapGal) said...

Oh this is so awesome!!!! Thank you for taking the time to write all of this!

Time to print and make a binder!

Mary Duffek said...

Thanks for all the tips! Will reread and apply the principals shared!...
Many Blessings!!!

Bonnie (eggette) said...

Honestly, how blessed are we to have you help us out?! This is a fabulous run down Alli.......

Leah said...

Thank you Alli! I really appreciate the insight too. I do have a question: Do you think getting published has anything to do with being a known name in the online blogger and DT world? I am just curious if the, "you need to know the right people" rule applies. Thanks!

Pat (mspfd) said...

Thank you for so much. This is wonderful information for those of us who dream of being published!

Anonymous said...

Hi Alli,

I have been reading blogs for the last two years or so, and this is the first time I've ever commented. Of about 50 blogs I have flagged as favourites, yours is the top of the list and the first I check every day. So many times I feel like I should comment because your work is so amazing, but my shyness gets the better of me and I chicken out! How ridiculous is that?! Anyway, I can tell how much time and effort you put into this post - it is outstanding and I wanted to let you know that! I also wanted to say how much I appreciate ALL the work you do for your blog. You have so much going on in your life, and still you make the time for us - THANK YOU! I actually saw your name in the last issue of one of the Papercrafts magazines and was thrilled to see it there! Hopefully you keep on submitting - with your talent, style and passion, they could fill a whole magazine with your cards alone! So again - thank you for this post, and for all of them! Sorry for the long comment too - I guess when it's the first time, there's a lot to say!! Ha ha!!
A fellow BC girl!

Amy said...

Thanks for taking the time to post this for those of us who had questions about getting published. Now, off to make some cards. =)

jennifer said...

Wow, this was such a helpful, encouraging post! I've been working on getting published and, you're right, it can be disheartening to not hear back. You've motivated me to remain persistent- I'm constantly learning and hopefully the persistence will someday pay off :)

Charlene Austin said...

Wow Alli~~~this was fantastic. You rock girl! This was such a great post and so appreciated. I am just waiting to see my very first card published in the Feb issue of Cards. Pretty exciting....but addictive. I know what you are saying on the time and effort. Those certainly are required. Thanks again...Have a great week.

kim-paperbabe said...

Thank you so much Alli, I'm hoping this year to send to magazines for publications instead of just entering their competitions!
Hope you're all recovering well! Kim :)

Amy said...


Thanks so much for your post. I've been dipping my feet into papercrafts (cards, scrapbooking, altered items) for about a year now. And recently I've found myself asking, "How do projects make their way to getting published?" Your post gives me great direction. THANKS.

If you have time, I do have a question. Once a project gets accepted for publication, do I have to part with it. Meaning I will have to send it to the accepting party and never get it back.

-Alberta, CANADA-