The more I get my work published in magazines, the more I realise how clueless I am about which layouts to send in.
There are the ones I feel aren't very striking or particularly technical. Yet, they will get published. There are some layouts that I feel particularly strong about and supremely happy with, and they don't get a response from other people at all.
When you're a crafter, it's hard to look at your work objectively and know if it's good enough or not. Your judgement can be clouded by so many factors, least of all your emotional attachment to the subject matter.
Only the trained eye can guage how much time and endless, finicky effort went into your creation. To most people, it's just a gorgeous, lovingly hand-crafted photo decoration. They do not see the processes behind it all - how hard it was to cover those chipboard letters, the mess you made embossing that embellishment, or how finnicky it was to sew around that title. Especially with your crappy sewing machine!
And I guess that's part of it all - you want your layout or card to look so professional that there is no evidence of all behind-the-scenes stuff.
So because it is so hard to know what the magazines want, my advice is to send in anything remotely good and sit and wait for a response. You have to be in it to win it.
I know with traditional scrapping, it certainly helps to have a lot of the latest releases piled high onto your page. You also have to be good at photographing or scanning your page to show them a preview before sending the real one in. Make sure you photograph it in good light and don't use a flash. Crop your image to include only the page, not the carpet behind it! You need to be willing to part with your original creation for about 6 months if you get accepted, and be willing to pay postage. Keep a list of all the brand names of the materials you use - you'll need them.
With digital, I think it's a lot easier. For a start, you just need to resize your layout to 72dpi and send that in as a preview. Send only one layout per email. Send that email to lots of different magazines. Don't be embarassed to send off fifty emails in one stint. If you get an acceptance offer, you're going to need to list all your materials. Here's where a good organised digi supplies program comes in.
I use ACDSee to organise my supplies. It's a tedious process of tagging each element/paper/brush but it helps when you've got to go back and find the exact piece to list in your materials blurb. These designers have spent a lot of time and effort creating the stuff you use on your layouts, so I think it's imperative to give them Kudos for it :)
A more efficient method would be to list the materials you use straight after you've completed your layout, on the off chance you send it in and it gets published. I tag all of my materials into a new favourites folder and then, if a particular layout gets accepted, I can just bring up my favourites folder with that layout name on it, and it's all there. It sure beats 6 hours of searching back through all your stash trying to find the name of that brush you used 6 months ago!
Most magazines have specific submission calls, which you should refer to in your subject line. But they are almost always looking for "general" layouts or "digital" layouts too, so don't restrict your submissions only to those they've called for.
Don't create layouts specifically for magazines. It doesn't work. Create what you want, when you want. It'll turn out 100 per cent better than something you've created only through motivation to be published. When it's finished, then browse the different submission calls and see where it might fit in. Remember, there is always just plain old generic "digital" or "general" submission calls too. And if you've never been published before, then add "newbie" or "fresh face" to your subject line.
When you get that acceptance email, act on it straight away. Do all the paper work, and post it in!
So to recap:
1. create first, submit last.
2. write down all your supplies and their brand names
3. Browse submission calls and see where your layout / card might fit in
4. Send in anything else under the "general" category
5. Send in more than you think will get published
6. Don't be surprised if something you think is fairly ordinary actually gets accepted!
7. When you receive that acceptance email, ACT FAST! Deadlines are deadlines, after all.
Edited: In recent days since I wrote this blog post, my friend Brittney has had a cute layout accepted in Scrapbooking Memories after much pushing from me to start submitting her stuff to the magazines. She was ecstatic! And so was I! So if you want some very one-on-one advice or pushing, please don't hesitate to email me for some guidance. I'm really happy to help. Congratulations Brittney!