Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Race to the Post Office!

I designed a pattern last spring that I thought would be perfect for my first submission to a print magazine.  I think the pattern was finished in June, and I ran a test for it in July & August.  Things went quite well and I'm very happy with the way it all came out.

Being new to magazine publication, I did a little research.  How detailed were the patterns in the different magazines?  What sort of audience did each publication seem to try to be reaching?  How do they pay their designers as far as an up-front payment or payments based upon a percentage of the sale of your specific pattern?  How long did the publication expect to keep exclusive rights to the pattern before I was allowed to sell it through my own sources again?

Let me tell you, these are not easy questions to answer before you are actually negotiating with a specific publication.  I did stumble upon a couple very helpful webpages, including a blog from a well-known designer who stuck her neck out to talk about designer compensation practices among different magazines.  Because of her, and because I had already kind of zeroed in on a specific magazine as having the "right" audience for the pattern I had written, I knew who I wanted to publish with.

So all summer it was just a waiting game.  Publications often request submissions 9 -12 months in advance.  I couldn't find any old information on the web about when the summer 2013 submission deadline for this publication was, so I just kept taking a look at their website every week or two to see if the call for submissions was up yet.  All summer, their website still said, "Looking for submissions for Spring 2014", and so I waited.  I'd check again the next week, still see the same call, and wait some more.

Meanwhile, I was seeing calls for submission for dozens of other publications' Summer 2014 issues.  But the website for my publication just kept the Spring 2014 call up, so I kept waiting.

Well, obviously, I haven't been on my game over the last 3 weeks, and my frequent checking of the submission website dropped off.  Today, I opened a blanket out on the front lawn, ready to enjoy my lunch, a little fresh air, and answer some messages on my laptop.  When I was done with my messages, I thought, "I should check to see if the call for Summer 2014 is up yet."

Imagine the look on my face when I saw it was not only up, but the deadline was TODAY.

Thank goodness I made the swatch 6 weeks ago and had already blocked it.  But I hadn't filled out their requisite form, and I hadn't made any sort of submission sheet of my own.

It was about 3:00 in the afternoon when I discovered I had to have my submission postmarked by today.  And I was pretty sure our post office lobby closed at 4:30.  (As it turns out, it closes at I could have sweat it just a tiny bit less.)  But still - 2 hours to pull something together and get it in the mail!

I already had a couple very good photos of the finished garment, so I didn't need to do any sketches.  I made a one-page document using those photos, then I added the schematic and measurements at the bottom of the page and wrote a description of the garment and how it is constructed.  Finally, I added my contact information and changed the name of the piece....the initial pattern and test both used a "working title" that I never loved, and although I'm not sure I am totally in love with the new name, it's more descriptive and a better fit than the working title.  Maybe I'll ask to change it again before publication if I can think of something I like even better.

 I printed out the first copy of my submission page at 4:15pm, only to find a giant yellow stripe across the middle of the page because the printer cartridge was running out of colored ink.  Miracle of miracles (seriously, this NEVER happens at our house), I opened up the door to the computer cabinet and found an extra color ink cartridge!  I installed it, managed to skip the "alignment step"  (Why is it that normally I can never get it to bypass the alignment thing?), and printed out another copy.  By now it was about 4:20 and I realize that the schematic at the bottom of the page still has the "working title" on it.  I quickly change it to the new title, print it out a third time, and I'm off to the post office before I even put the stuff in the envelope.

Once I get to the post office, I realize I still had a half hour before they closed, but I was glad to have made it there under the wire.  I must have had someone looking out for me today...after waiting and watching that submission page for so long, I would have been so disappointed if I completely missed the call for submissions!  On top of that, I've been having a good day, so I haven't had to take much in the way of pain medication, which means I had my full mental faculties available when I needed them.  (Also, can I get an "Amen!" for adrenaline?)  Now the ball is in their court....either this will be my first magazine publication, or it'll be a new self-published pattern.  Either way, you'll get to see it Summer of 2014!


  1. I can imagine the panic that settled in when you saw that deadline. My heartiest congratulations on not only making it, but for not getting into any accidents on the way and especially for not giving in!

  2. Thanks :) I do have the advantage of living just a mile from the post office in Small Town, USA, so traffic was not an issue. It took twice as long to print the darn page as it did to drive the whole thing to the post office! I think I need a new printer.

  3. Yay! You made it in time! Hope they accept it! It would fun to see it printed on a glossy magazine page!