Beading magazines are the most obvious and most accessible way to publish your beadwork and jewelry designs. There are a huge number of magazines on the market and many of them have a worldwide readership. Most beading magazines these days are available in both print and e-zine format, so although the print version may only appear on the bookshelves of the country in which it is published, it may be available worldwide to subscribers. Some of these may elect to receive the electronic version to save on shipping costs, but many will have their print copy mailed to them, wherever they live in the world. Naturally, English speaking magazines will have the widest readership, but in non-English speaking countries where beading is popular, there are beading magazines available in that language.
Payment for Appearing in Beading Magazines
If your work is selected for publication in a magazine, you may receive a payment. This varies greatly from one beading magazine to another. The pay scale tends to reflect the readership of the magazine, so the more popular the title, the higher the pay. However, you may find that some magazines pay nothing at all for contributions, even though they have a good readership. As I write this, pay rates range from around £30 – £150 for a single design. Bear in mind that those magazines that offer the highest payments (namely the large US titles like Beadwork and Bead and Button) are also the most competitive magazines to get into. The reason they pay well is that their readership is high and their reputation is excellent. This means that everyone wants to appear in them, so if you are aiming for these, then you’d better be prepared to accept a lot of rejections before (if ever) you have a design published.
Bear in mind, you will need to balance the payment you receive against the cost of the project, so you will have to buy the materials you use and pay to ship the project to the magazine for photography – the payment you receive will help towards this cost, but may not cover it, so even if £150 sounds like a great sum of money for one pattern, if you used a lot of expensive materials, spent twenty hours working out the design and a further five hours writing up the instructions, this doesn’t work out at a great rate of pay!
Building a Reputation Through Beading Magazines
Having established that you’re not going to be making a fortune from publishing work in magazines, why would you want to do it? Well, the other benefit, that people often overlook, is publicity. Having your work published in a magazine means that several thousand people are going to see your design and hear your name. If they try your project and enjoy it, they may look for more work from you, which can in turn lead to sales on your website. It is hard to put a price on this.
Working With Beading Magazines
Assuming you’re not motivated by greed and you recognise that one of the greatest benefits of publishing your work in a magazine is the challenge and the thrill of seeing your design in print, how do you go about getting a design accepted? Well, first, check the magazine’s website and see if it has any guidelines for submissions. Each magazine is different: some will want a photo and brief description which should include the techniques used, the materials and the difficulty level. Some may have a formal submission document to complete, some may want to see the full project instructions so that they can check that you are capable of writing to the correct standard. If the magazine doesn’t specify, then the first option is the safest to go with: it will give the editor a good idea of what they are commissioning.
The golden rule of submitting to magazines is not to mess them around. Do not be tempted to submit the same pattern to six different magazines at the same time, thinking that you will just go with the first one to say ‘yes’, or worse still, thinking you can play one off against the other and go with the highest bidder. Every magazine will take a different length of time to consider your submission, so if you submit to six at once, hear back from the first after a week, accepting your submission, then you get another acceptance two weeks later from another title, you have the embarrassment of explaining to the second title that your design is no longer available as you’ve already had it accepted elsewhere. This means that the second editor has just wasted their time in looking at your work and has scheduled a spot that they will now need to re-schedule. You can absolutely guarantee that the editor is not going to be happy and will probably note your name as someone to never work with…yes, this does happen! So, although it might feel frustrating to have to send to one beading magazine at a time, wait for the rejection before you try the next title and so on, it is a courtesy to editors that will be worth following in the long run. The magazine industry is relatively small and editors do know one another, so word can get around if someone is not playing by the rules!
So, let’s assume you’ve had your work accepted for publication. You will get some form of contract: it may be a formal written document in ‘legal speak’ or it may be an informal email outlining the payment terms, the issue in which your work is scheduled to appear and any other rules that apply. The contractual rules may even be attached to the bottom of a submission document if you are asked to submit your work on a particular form. In general, most magazines will expect your work to be exclusive to them for a period of time. This means you should not be sharing photos of it anywhere in public and you should certainly not make the instructions available to anyone at all before publication – other than perhaps a trusted friend if you want to test the pattern before submission. If you are found to have used or publicised the work elsewhere, the magazine will most likely withdraw from the contract and refuse to publish your work. You should also check how long the exclusivity period lasts. In some cases the agreement may be that you have to wait a few weeks or months after the publication date before you can teach the design or sell the instructions on your own website. After the period of exclusivity, the magazine will still be able to use your work as they wish, so it may appear on an advert, or be included in a special edition later on, or something similar, but you will always retain the copyright to your design and, subject to any conditions to which you have agreed in the contract, you will be free to use your design as you wish.
The last point to consider before you submit something for publication is your ability to write up the instructions. You may be thinking that you can submit sketches on paper and scribbled notes for the magazine’s designer to turn into the beautifully laid out pages that you are used to reading. If this is the case, then think again! The magazine will expect a professional document that includes clear type-written instructions and good quality step-by-step diagrams or photos to accompany them. You should also bear in mind that magazines do not necessarily pattern-test. The pattern will be checked generally to ensure that it makes sense, but it may not be fully tested before publication, so you should ideally do this yourself. If the magazine spots a lot of mistakes during the editing process, then they may reject your project at this point as it is simply too time-consuming to correct a huge number of errors. The same applies if you think you can get away with sending in poor quality photos or hand-drawn diagrams: magazines work to very tight schedules and these do not usually include scope for re-drawing diagrams or wholesale editing of photos (assuming this is even possible). You can guarantee that there will be a lot of other lovely projects waiting for their chance of publication and if they are better-written than yours, they will be chosen first. If you read the small print in any magazine contract, you will see that the title reserves the right to reject your work at any point, so make sure you don’t give the editor easy reasons for rejection!
If you are looking for a bit more of an insight into how magazine editors work and how to work successfully with them, then read this article.