Publish Your Pattern in a Magazine - Vol. 2: Preparing Your Submission
By this point, you've already done your homework on the different magazines, and how to get to their guidelines. Now it's time to build your submission.
What you should know before submitting:
All magazines require slightly different things for your submission, but there are a couple things most ask for, for both non-exclusive, and exclusive patterns.
The difference between exclusive and non-exclusive – many magazines take both exclusive patterns (created for, and exclusive to, only that magazine issue), and non-exclusive patterns (meaning the rights are not exclusive to that magazine, and can be shared and sold elsewhere). Some accept both. My Bobble Sweater, for example, was non-exclusive, it has been published elsewhere, and I can continue to sell it on various platforms.
What is most usual, I’ve found, is that magazines will ask for the submitted pattern (if it's a new pattern) to be exclusive to the magazine for a certain amount of time, I've had magazines ask anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months. I haven’t had any magazine ask for the rights to a pattern indefinitely. (If this happens to you, make sure you’re fairly compensated!)
Below is a handy chart for what you will likely (but not always!) need for your submission, and after that more details on what each submission material entails.
Description – The description is obviously a place for you to describe your design, but it's also where you can showcase why people want to make it and what makes it special. Here are some tips and tricks: If it's a garment, describe the silhouette, how does it fall? What are the characteristics of the neckline, the sleeves, etc. What crochet/knit techniques does it feature? e.g. V-stitch, crochet cables. What inspired the design? E.g. a gin cocktail, a tiny turtle, etc. How should wearing or using the design make you feel? It may seem like overkill, but you want to be effusive about why your design is special and how it's going to make another persons life more fun/colorful/cozy etc.
Pictures – Always, always, always hi res! Unlike social media a magazine will be printed and usually turned into PDFs for online viewing, that means there will be edits and photos will be various different sizes. You don’t want a blurry version of your project, more than just being unidentifiable, it will make your brand look unprofessional. (For exclusive or new patterns, you won't have to worry about pictures until after the sample is made.)
Fashion sketches – When I first heard people prefer sketches I was afraid. My sketches are more like schematics, are all in ball-point pen, and are on graph paper. To help me in this endeavor I got this great notebook that has the fashion figures (called croquis) penciled in very lightly in different poses, so that I could essentially just create these sketches coloring book style. I also use the white space around the figure for extra details. To each their own!
Swatch – this doesn’t necessarily have to be in the fiber or color that you want the final design to be in. However, I recommend at least a similar fiber, and definitely the same weight, if not the actual yarn you’ll be using for the project. Some magazines like the actual swatch sent in, others accept just pictures of the swatch. To make it easier on them, I like to include a ruler or tape measure next to the swatch.
Yarn Support – Some magazines offer yarn support (paying for the yarn), some don’t. They will always tell you in the submission guidelines. (If you can't find it, you can always reach out and ask!) Even if they don't offer yarn support, it’s important to include what yarn you need/used, the weight, type of fiber, and length. If they do offer yarn support, I find it’s nice to include a couple of fibers that are most like the one you are using. In this way, they can choose from one of those your listed, instead of choosing one you may prefer not to work with, or worst case scenario, be unable to provide yarn support.
Tips n Tricks for Creating the Submission
When formatting your submission, I think it looks the nicest to submit as a PDF. There's no need for it to be more than one page per design. To create a professional looking PDF, I simply create a Powerpoint slide, and turn on the formatting guidelines (View > Gridlines). When you're done simply Save As > .pdf. That way you can make sure the spacing is even/ symmetrical, and it really brings the submission up a level.
Don’t get crazy with the fonts. Choose 1-2 that go with your branding, the clearer the better, wingdings is not going to help your design get selected.
- Always make sure your brand logo and your email are on every page of your submission. This way if a design pops out at the editor, they can contact you that second, not go looking for your info.
- Use color! Break out the colored pencils and the water colors! Add some color to your sketch to highlight the different design elements and textures.
- Use the submission to highlight why your design is unique, and plays into the mood board or issue theme. Repeat some of the adjectives the magazine highlighted in their brief.
Note!* Magazines will pay you for your product, often there are different price points for exclusive and non-exclusive patterns, the size of the piece (e.g. smaller home décor, versus a garment), and the complexity of the piece, a mini amigurimi versus a blanket or CAL. Every magazine is different. Usually on the submission or design guidelines pages, there will be a range of pricing for designs. Often you won’t know how much the offer is until after you submit your design. (This is not to scare you, you and the magazine have to agree on a price, you can always walk away)
Once you're happy with your submission and you've sent it off, it's time to wait! See the next post about what to do if your design is accepted (or rejected!)