In my post two weeks ago, I talked about my experiences producing original needlework and craft designs for the craft magazines and indicated these guidelines could possibly be used for kids’ crafts, too. Here are some specifics about the 5 points I mentioned.
#1. Be original. Anything submitted to an editor must be your own idea and your own work! Of course, certain skills, such a knitting stitches or paint brush strokes, are universal, but many times beginning writers/crafters are tempted to modify, or even copy a craft or design they’ve seen elsewhere and claim it as their own. Also, no part of a poem, rhyme, or motto seen on a greeting card, poster, or anywhere else can be used without permission. Not only are these practices unethical and dishonest, they can also cause big trouble with the copyright office! Even if a writer/crafter doesn’t go that far, editors often say that when a new craft or hobby takes hold, hundreds of people will send in that same idea, with very slight variations, believing they will actually be paid for such copying and duplication.
#2. Study each magazine in detail. You need to make sure you’re submitting to the right publication, i.e., needlework, tole painting, scrapbooking, etc., but within those genres, there are differences to consider. Even two similar-sounding magazines like Crafts and Crafts ‘n Things (I’ve sold to both) have different editorial views. The first prefers more involved projects while the second wants quick and easy ideas. For kids’ magazine, it’s essential to read and learn exactly what kinds of crafts each one is looking for and using.
#3. Think seasonal. Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Valentine’s Day are always popular and lend themselves to all kinds of crafts. Editors are usually receptive to unique projects for these big days. However, they’re delighted when contributors send in ideas for the “lesser” holidays, such as Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, and Father’s Day. Anything original and well-done for these and other “days” throughout the year can usually result in a sale. Remember, too, that as with written manuscripts, craft magazines work at least 6 months ahead of a certain date, so keep that in mind before you submit.
#4. Understand the craft technique and know how to write instructions. When I began submitting to the crafts market, I had many years experience knitting, doing needlepoint, etc., and reading instructions, so writing the instructions came easily. However, if you’re new to crafts, you can still be successful by putting in some time learning to do the craft you want to specialize in. This is not too time-consuming if you’re doing easy kids’ crafts, and it will give you an idea of problems readers might encounter as they work. It’s a good idea to take notes as you go along. Then study how the directions are written. Most often, they will follow a formula, such as Materials Needed, How to Do It, and Finishing.
#5. Be familiar with the unique submission process for crafts. In most cases, editors require that you complete the craft you are suggesting and send in color photos. Then if they think they can use the design, they will ask you to send the completed project. Editors seldom, if ever, consider a query based on an idea you’d “like to develop.” You need to have it finished before you query, with photos. However, this process should be simpler today with digital cameras and sending photos online.
As you can see, designing and selling craft designs is time-consuming and doesn’t usually yield high financial rewards. But, if you enjoy doing these hobbies anyway, it can be fun and gratifying to see your work in print. And, you could introduce new generations to the fun of doing crafts.
Contributed by Marjorie Flathers