Some designers appear in all the design books and magazines. How can I get my name out there too?
Maintaining a presence in the media is an art some
creative professionals seem to have mastered. It’s like
this handful of firms are in every trade book or periodical
There are essentially two routes to getting your
work published: via juried competitions or as a part
of standard editorial coverage. In previous columns
I’ve talked in detail about improving your odds for
success in juried shows (“Dare to Win,” Parts 1 and
2, Dec/Jan 2005 and Feb/March 2005, V10N1 and
V10N2). The present discussion will cover how
to get noticed by editors and writers, so they’ll be
more likely to include your work in their magazines,
books, and articles.
Unlike traditional juried competitions, which
are characterized by comprehensive submission
guidelines and require the payment of a fee, trade
publications and omnibus-style books are more editorial
or reference-oriented in their nature and generally
don’t have annual deadlines. These media usually
have a longer shelf life than annual competitions, and
they can be easier to get into in the sense that the criteria
are often broader than a competition’s.
Your work is going to have to be of high quality
to be considered for publication. That’s a given.
But beyond the obvious requirements, here are eight
strategies that can increase your odds of being represented
on the pages of non-juried publications.
1. Show up.
It may sound simplistic, but you have to be proactive
to get your work considered for publications.
That means getting in touch with writers and
editors to introduce yourself and hopefully gain a
forum for showing your work. After the initial contact,
stay in touch—once a quarter is a good rule
of thumb—by sending periodic news releases or
samples of new work.
2. Know the playing field.
The first step to inclusion in a publication is to be
familiar with its content and readership. There are
magazine publishers that specialize in titles related
to the graphic arts. Become familiar with them;
each has a different niche and editorial slant. By
knowing the type of content a magazine is likely to
feature, you can better assess the appropriateness of
your own work for submission. The same holds true
for design books. Certain book publishers put out
annual editions of their most popular titles, such as
Logo Design 2006, or Best Brochures, Vol. 12. If you
know an annual version is forthcoming, you can
submit your work for consideration at the appropriate
3. Start a list.
Conduct research to find publishers and editors,
and add their contact information to your database.
Send self-promotional mailings, project sheets, or
media releases about new work that is of potential
interest. Be regular in doing this, but also be judicious.
Don’t send “blanket” releases to every publication
on your list. Target what you send—and
when you send it—for best results, and be sure to
update your contact list regularly, perhaps as often
as twice a year. Also, be certain you have your
clients’ permission to submit work done on their
behalf; some may have restrictions on whether or
not their materials can be published.
4. Don’t forget the authors.
In addition to publishers and the publications themselves,
you’ll want to have a list of freelance writers
to send your work to. Most magazines contract with
outside writers for periodic features and regular
columns. These journalists typically work for a variety
of publications simultaneously, and many write
books as well.
Authors often pitch feature ideas to the publications
they write for. Concepts for article proposals
can be sparked by something an author sees or by
an idea a designer like you suggests. By contacting
authors directly, you can gain an additional inroad
on your quest to have work published.
5. Be complete.
When submitting a project to an editor or writer, be
sure to provide background information along with
the work. At the very minimum, include designer
and studio name, client, name of the project and
when it first appeared, as well as a few sentences
about why it might appeal to a particular audience.
Your explanation of why a project has allure is
an opportunity to pitch yourself, and your comments
should be tailored to fit each contact. For example,
a particular annual report might be of interest to a
design magazine because of a production technique it
utilized, while the same project might also be appropriate
for a book on unusual binding methods.
6. Be responsive.
Once you have garnered some interest in a particular
project or your work in general, you have
essentially made a commitment to follow through.
Remember that publications have deadlines. They
may also have administrative requirements such as
receipt of a signed release before they can publish
work. If a publication or its representative requests
additional information—more art, a written permis-
sion form, or any other material—and you are not
forthcoming, the space reserved for you may be reassigned
to another designer who is more cooperative
… even if the work isn’t as good!
7. Be persistent and diligent.
Publishers, editors, columnists, and feature writers
are all busy people on deadlines. They often seek
the path of least resistance when faced with space to
fill, and very often that means using material from
the “top of the pile.” If you regularly send quality
work and respond immediately to requests for additional
information, you stand a very good chance of
getting yourself some ink.
8. Brag a little.
Once your work is chosen, what else do you do?
Tell your clients, of course! Send a letter describing
the publication, and include a copy of the page(s)
your work appears on, or buy an extra copy as a gift
for your client. Remember, this kind of recognition
makes your clients look good, too. And it helps
build the buzz that will enable your next project to
be considered for coverage as well.
Guerilla PR Wired,
by Michael Levine,
The Publicity Handbook,
by David R. Yale
& Andrew Carothers,
News Releases: How
to Get Free Publicity
for Yourself, Your
Business, or Your
Catherine V. McIntyre,
$20, Piccadilly Books
Directory of Little
Magazines and Small
by Len Fulton, $37.95,
From a Journalist’s
Perspective, by David
Releases, by Kay