Monday, December 19, 2011

Submitting to Bead Magazines: The Technicalities

Earlier, I promised you some tips for submitting to beadweaving magazines. Well, I'm here to make good on that promise.
In this post I'm going to tell you everything that I consider before I submit a design to a magazine and everything that I do while working on the design to send it to a magazine. These are all the things that I'd wished someone had told me when I started submitting. It would have made the process so much easier.
Please note, this information is primarily for seed bead addicts and those who like to weave bead to bead, though I'm sure the information has applications for other crafts, so glean what you need from these tips.
I hope this information is helpful and that you'll truly be encouraged to submit your original designs in the coming year.

I've said this before, but it's worth repeating.
You are way more likely to get your work accepted if it's along the same lines of the kind of work that the magazine already publishes.
Now, by this, I don't mean that publishers want repeats of things they've published in the past, but if you look at the types of designs that land in the project pages, they are sparkly or shiny or brightly colored, but with a clean design that doesn't have your eye jumping all over the place.
Elegant, sparkly rivolis from mountainshadowdesign

Also, think about the specific magazine that you're interested in.
Does it lean toward more elegant pieces?
Are there simple designs among the pages or are the designs more complicated and time intensive?
Is there a certain section of the magazine for designs incorporating other techniques or a section that wants quick designs with a short material list.
After you've completed your design, play matchmaker to find the perfect fit for your creation.

Jargon: the language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group.

Do you know what it means to "pass through" or to "pass back through"?
Can you tell the difference between an Iris finish or an AB finish? 

Can you spot a Charlotte?
Do you know how Peyote and Brick are similar? 

And why does a design become more complicated when you have to go up in size?
Miyuki Tila beads, two holes, a pain for technical editing.

These are all things you'll need to know when writing your instructions and in order to talk intelligently about your design.
At this stage, when you're trying to get published, "Stick your needle in a pile of beads" just won't cut it. So, read, read, read the instructions to previously published projects, even if you don't actually work the project, it will help you get a feel for exactly how the project instructions are written.

Aaah! I just found out that Beadwork Magazine no longer publishes themes for their magazine!
Bummer. I really enjoyed challenging myself to create something that fit into their color or design schemes.
Oh well, we'll make our own...k?
Most jewelry magazines are published bi-monthly, which means that they are naturally focusing on a season or theme by default.
For example, you're probably not going to see an elegant, sparkly collar in the middle of July.
Nope, sparkly collars are for Winter and July brings bright colors and funky shapes.
These Czech Rounds scream caramel popcorn and fall fairs.

When you're working on a design, think about how the shapes and weave fits into the month of the issue that you're going for. Also, think about how making the design fits into the issue. For example, in the summer, I want a quick design, because I'm probably not spending a lot of time in the house. In winter, I'm probably more willing to tackle a difficult design, which means submitting something time-intensive and labor intensive might be a better design for the fall/winter issues.

I've had beaders ask me this before: Do I have to submit illustrations for my pieces if I try to submit to a magazine?
The answer: I dunno. Does the magazine want illustrations?
It really does depend. I've written for magazines that specifically ask you not to send in illustrations, and then I've written for one that required me to send in my own.
Be sure to check, check, check the guidelines and if you're not sure, write a quick e-mail to the editor whose name is on the guidelines.

Initial idea sketching for the Arab Architecture Cuff that appeared in the June/July 2011 issue of Beadwork.

But, this is my suggestion. Take a photo of each step as you complete it. That way, if you do get accepted, you can send in the photos for clarification with your piece. It helps the technical editor to see exactly what you're explaining in your instructions.
Also, when you're writing your instructions, be as thorough as you can. I really do feel for tech editors, they have a hard job as they have to take into space considerations as they edit.
 Don't feel discouraged if they have serious questions about the way you've written a step or if they hack it to pieces. They're trying to make your project perfect for their readers.

Oh, and another quick note on guidelines. Follow them to the letter. If they want e-mail, send them
e-mail. If they want a CD, send a CD. If they want you to stand on your head while writing your instructions in pig latin, then start practicing your headstands now. They are waaay more likely to accept pieces from someone who followed the instructions completely.

By this, I mean, make 2 or 3 versions and 2 or 3 colorways. Make a version and write down each step as you go. Set it aside for a couple of days and then come back and follow your own instructions to make the 2nd version. Think as you work.
Do your instructions make sense? Are they clear for someone who's never seen your project before?
Are the materials labeled correctly?

Also, think about the colors you choose. Do you have a good contrast? Are they colors that would work well in a magazine? Do they fit the feel of the design that you're trying to convey?
My last design in Beadwork, Chelsea's Gift, was a one shot deal. I had only one version. (Mostly because my sister doesn't really need two necklaces that look exactly the same) But, it was bead embroidery, which I could do in my sleep (while on my head speaking pig latin), so when I wrote those instructions, I referenced another similar project to help me with my writing.

Oh, and on the same topic. When you write your submission e-mail. Be confident. This is your project and you created it, be proud of it.
None of this:
"I really, really hope you like it, and I hope it's good enough to make it into your magazine."

This instead:
"I am submitting my piece to be considered for the February/March issue of your magazine. It's a delicately woven necklace featuring right angle weave with peyote embellishments. The embellished edges reminded me of tiny hearts, so I created a soft pink version perfect for Valentine's Day. Thank you for the opportunity to submit to your magazine and I look forward to hearing from you."

Okay, those are the most important things for now.
They'll definitely at least get you on the right foot for getting published in 2012 (or 2013).
Now, let me say this: I am not a professional magazine writer and I've only been published in two magazines for my beadwoven pieces.
However, I did go through this process with each of my published pieces and these are the things that I worried about and wrestled with every time I wrote a project.

I hope you'll keep this information handy and that it will help you as you design and work toward publication. I'll leave you with the links to a few magazines that I know for sure will accept bead woven pieces:

If you've got any questions that I didn't address here, please feel free to drop those in the comments.
Good luck designers!  


  1. All great tips! I think that this is something that can translate to other jewelry design magazines. I have been published rather frequently over the past two years. I have to say that every time you are submitting you are establishing a relationship, even when you don't get accepted (I don't always get accepted!). I always, ALWAYS thank them for the opportunity, because that is what it is all about. I don't take it personally if I don't get picked, and sometimes that helps me because then I go back and tweak it a bit and rework it so that it suits another publication. That has worked on occasion! I keep copies of all my instructions in folders by publication so that I can copy the last one I submitted and make the changes keeping the style of the writing consistent. Take DYNAMITE photos following the style of what is in their pages. That really does help. Above all be gracious. There is a lot of competition out there to get published and it is a lot of hard work. You won't get rich off it, but there is something special to seeing your project ready for prime time in a magazine! I say go for it, and keep at it! You never know unless you try!
    Enjoy the day, Miss Marcie!

  2. Wonderful advise, thank you Marcie.
    Merry Christmas

  3. Okay Okay I really am hearing you now. I will make this a goal for 2012 (at least to submit a design) You have given such awesome advice I can not see me not following through. You are a great supporter of all of us. Thank you so much!

  4. Multiple copies in different colors? -oh boy, theres more to this then I thought ;)

    Great Information. Thank you for sharing!

  5. This is terrific! Very well-written and helpful. I'm going to share this on Twitter . . . and brush up on my Pig Latin, too! :)

  6. Thank you so much for your tips! For years I've been looking through magazines and I've decided that this year will be my time to (hopefully) shine in a bead magazine! I hope that getting in a magazine can give me that added push to get my jewelry out there...

    Thanks again!


  7. Great article. Will book mark it and if I share in my blog - definitely send my visitors to this blog with the link. Thank you so much.