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How to Get Published and Become Rich and Famous

Okay, so not so much on becoming rich and famous. Unless you hit the lottery, in which case, we split 50-50. But I can offer some tips on getting your polymer clay project published.

1. First of course, you'll need to develop a project that is, like a science experiment, reproducible by others according to directions written by you. The project must be your original design. However, if it uses a technique established by another, try to contact the originator and request permission to write. If it is not possible to make that contact, at least give credit to the originator; for example, Judith Skinner's blending technique. Belle Armoire, for instance, explicitly states: “Please note: If the technique you wish to share with our readers was learned in a class, a workshop, or from an art or craft book, Belle Armoire requires that you give credit to the author or teacher who instructed you."


2. Write up a draft of the article and create "camera-ready" samples. That means flawless finishing techniques and no fingerprints or brush strokes. If your samples are enlarged 200%, will they still look good?


3. Identify possible outlets for your article. These can include non-paying venues such as PC Polyzine (www.pcpolyzine.com) and the National Polymer Clay Guild's newsletter, the POLYinforMER, and magazines which do pay upon publication. Jewelry Crafts, Polymer Cafe, Expressions, Bead & Button and Belle Armoire are some examples. You may find it easier to "break into" the business by starting with POLYinforMER, PC Polyzine and Jewelry Crafts and building up your publication resume before approaching publications with larger circulations and a more varied range of media.


4. Examine your venue choice very carefully. Does your project fit well with their focus? Bead & Button for instance, concentrates on personal adornment, not home decor. Expressions magazine submission guidelines (more on this later) state "Expressions welcomes submissions of projects based on rubber stamping, polymer clay, and the paper arts. Projects may include, but are not limited to, stamping on various materials, cards, bookbinding, altered books, paper-making, collage, scrapbooking, jewelry-making, beading/wire working and home decoration."


5. Review the publication's submission guild lines very carefully. Under a magnifying glass or microscope if necessary. Guidelines will be stated either on their website and/or in the magazine. (Shameless plug for the POLYinforMER ñ you need only be a NPCG member to be considered for publication.) I can't stress this strongly enough (although I'll try): it's their game ñ play by their rules. Submission guidelines will include how they want to see your work. Should you send them original artwork or digital or film, email or regular mail (include return postage)? The guidelines may also include a section on rights. For example, Polymer CAF… states that the magazine buys "first serial rights and anthology rights, both electronic and print". 


6. Submit your project to one publication only. Simultaneous submissions are usually explicitly banned. Wait to hear from the first publication before submitting it to the next.


7. Wait. Be patient. It may take one to three months until you get a response. You can certainly inquire after a reasonable amount of time, and this is occasionally noted in the submission guidelines (see #5 above It's their game play by their rules). In the meantime, develop another project and submit it to another publication. Now, you've got two irons in the fire and your chances of getting published, in theory, just doubled.


8. You've received a tentative acceptance notice from the publication. Go celebrate! Then take a good look at the notification and/or contract. (It's their game ñ play by their rules.) How do they want to receive your work and article? Will they do the photography from actual steps you provide or will you? Flesh out and complete your written article, following the format of the typical project in that specific publication. Do they want the article via email (and in what format?) and/or CD, and/or typed hard copy (single, double-spaced)? And most importantly, when? Stick to their deadline ñ it's rarely "in six months". More often it's "ASAP", "tomorrow" or "yesterday".

Alternate 8.
You've received a polite rejection notice. The world has not ended. Do not take it personally. They did not reject you ñ only this particular project at this specific time. Go back to step 4 with your next choice.


9. You're now engaged in the sacred publisher/writer mating dance. Back and forth with an editor concerning polishing the written article. A little give and take on the editing until both of you are satisfied.


10. Yippee! Your name in print! You've received an advance copy of the magazine and they've even spelled your name correctly. Congratulations! Make a copy of the article and frame it for your studio's wall and bring in a copy for the next guild meeting's Show and Tell.

Additional Notes

  • The hard-to-find and seldom-talked-about project endorsement fee. Some companies will pay you when you specify their product in your article. Ask your favorite clay manufacturer if they participate in this type of program.

  • Publishing your project, regardless of the magazine's copyright notice, essentially opens up its use to the world. If you are not prepared to "let go" of it, but just want to show it, send it to the Gallery section of a magazine rather then write it up as a project.

I hope these tips will be helpful to you, not only for your foray into publishing, but also for class proposals and juried shows. Good luck and all the best!

About Diane Villano

Diane holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Art Education. She is founding president and co-founder of the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild, Past President of the National Polymer Clay Guild and on the faculty of the Guilford Art Center, Guilford, Connecticut and Bead & Button's annual conferences in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She teaches and exhibits nationally.

Contact Diane

Publications:

  • "Bead Mosaic Amulet Pendant", Expression Magazine, January/February 2006
  • Gallery artist, "Polymer Clay Creative Traditions", Judy Belcher, 2005
  • Gallery artist, Lark Book's "400 Designs: A Collection of Dynamic & Colorful Contemporary Work", Suzanne J. E. Tourtillott, Irene Semanchuk Dean, 2004
  • "Carved Jack O'Lantern Pin", PolymerCAFE project article, Fall 2004
  • "Swirl Heart Pin", PolymerCAFE project article, Spring 2004, highlighted web site project
  • "Pinata Pendant", Bead & Button Magazine, commissioned project article for 10th anniversary issue, December 2003
  • Project contributor, gallery artist, Lark Book's "Faux Surfaces in Polymer Clay : 30 Techniques & Projects that Imitate Precious Stones, Metals, Wood & More", Irene Semanchuk Dean, 2003
  • Project contributor, Lark Book's "Kid's Crafts ñ Polymer Clay", Irene Semanchuk Dean, 2003
  • Commissioned article "Polymer Clay & Papier Mache", Bead Dreams Magazine (collector's edition, published by Bead & Button magazine), 2003
  • Gallery artist, "Polymer: The Chameleon Clay", Victoria Hughes, 2002
  • Gallery artist, "Making Beautiful Beads", Suzanne Tourtillott, 2002
  • "Three Dimensional Cane project article, Jewelry Crafts Magazine, August 2001
  • Gallery artist, "Polymer Clay: Creating Functional and Decorative Objects", Jacqueline Gikow, 2001
  • Project contributor, gallery artist; Lark Books' "The Weekend Crafter - Polymer Clay", Irene Semanchuk Dean, 2000

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