Notes by Christen: Writing Article Proposals

I just returned from The Creative Connection in Saint Paul, Minnesota this past Sunday. For four days I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people I admire. From artists to business owners to authors, we were all gathered together for the same reason. We’re passionate about our creativity.

While I was there, I sat on a panel with Janine VanGool of Uppercase, Amy Powers of Inspired Ideas, and MaryJane Butters of MaryJane’s Farm. Artists and writers came to us for feedback on their magazine article pitches, looking to hear what was good about them and what might need to be improved upon.

When I sat down to write this post, the conversations we had during the panels came to mind. I realized I’ve written about how to get published, but I’ve never written anything about writing actual proposals. I thought I’d share some of that information here.

  • At Somerset Studio, we aren’t looking for lengthy written proposals. It’s actually quite the opposite. With the number of submissions we receive, we prefer all proposals to be concise and to the point. What’s your idea? Are you willing to share your technique? Do you have stepped-out images of the process? This applies to both e-mail and mail submissions.
  • Visuals! They’re a must. I get a number of e-mails about an idea an artist has for an article. That’s great, but because magazines rely on artwork, we can’t say yes to proposals without seeing what the artwork would look like. Sometimes a great idea doesn’t translate itself to art very well, so it’s best to develop the visuals.
  • Make sure your article idea is original. Don’t propose anything you’ve learned from another artist’s workshops or books.
  • Be patient. Understand that editors are very busy and usually under a deadline. Personally, when I’m at my busiest I’m not able to answer e-mails every day. In fact, one of my ways of remaining focused when under a tight deadline is to close my e-mail. It’s fine to send a follow-up e-mail, but understand if an editor can’t get back to you right away.
  • Don’t give up. There are a number of reasons that a proposal may not get accepted. It’s nothing personal, and it doesn’t mean you’re not a good artist. Try again, and keep trying.

Christen Olivarez is Director of Publishing for Stampington & Company and Editor-in-Chief of Somerset Studio, the top-ranked magazine for mixed-media and paper artists. Her blog posts appear on every other Tuesday.

You can listen to a podcast with Christen by clicking here.


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