Get Your Stuff Out There, Part III: Magazine Submissions

I was going to try to cover this myself, but then I saw this photo (see below) that just floored me. Now, I already knew that Stampington gets a lot of submissions, because I’ve been to their offices in Irvine, California, and I’ve seen those shelves and shelves of bins full of fabulous art. So when I hear people grumbling about how this or that magazine has had their work forEVER and hasn’t responded, or how they didn’t get their piece back for months, well, I knew why, sort of. I’d try to explain the process, but I don’t think people really understand what happens once they send in a piece of work for consideration. Even I didn’t really understand everything, because I didn’t understand the sheer volume of submissions.

So when editor Christen Olivarez tweeted this photo yesterday, I asked, “So this is the mail for just one week?” And she said, “This is just for one DAY,” and she added that it doesn’t even show the deliveries from UPS or FedEx. This is just one day’s deliveries to the Stampington offices from the US Post Office.

Monday's mail at Stampington

Whoa, right?

I asked Christen to tell us a little about this, about how they deal with this and what it means for artists submitting their work for consideration. I asked for advice for people who’d like to submit, and here’s what she told me:

RFZ: People always wonder about the submission process for getting their artwork in a magazine. How does that work?
CO: Our lengthy submission process can be found on our Web site, but for those who want the quick lowdown, here it is:
• When you’ve made something you’d like to submit, make sure you label it clearly with your name and contact information.
• Pack it up and include the following: a quick cover letter explaining the submission (inspiration, unique techniques used, etc.), a check or money order to cover return postage, and a SASPostcard if you’d like to be alerted when your pieces arrive.
• On the box, be sure to write which magazine you intend the submission for. If you’re not sure, you can label it “General Submissions,” and it will come straight to me and I’ll consult with the other editors to figure out which publication to direct it to.
RFZ: So you get kind of a lot of submissions at Stampington?
CO: Do we ever. On this particular day, our art management team had already picked up a batch of mail. Shown here is about 50 packages and it was only for one day, and did not include any UPS or Fed Ex deliveries. This is about a common day’s worth of submissions if a submission deadline is nearing, which one always is. Given that we produce 80+ issues each year, and each issue can contain hundreds of pieces of artwork, it’s safe to say that we got a few thousand submissions a year. It’s important to keep in mind that this also doesn’t include all of the e-mail submissions we receive, too.
RFZ: Sometimes you hear people grumble about how long it takes to get a response or to get their artwork back, and this is a good way to show what it’s really like. How many people do you have to sort and deal with all the mail?
CO: We have two art management employees; one is full-time and the other is part-time. They unpack and log every single submission into our computer database, add additional labels to artwork in case the artists’ labels fall off, distribute them to the appropriate editor, and then pack them back up when they’re ready to go, logging them out of the system, and handle all return shipping themselves.
• Once you understand that, it makes more sense that we say to allow for 9-12 months for the return of your submissions. If you ever have any questions or concerns about that, they’re more than happy to help out.
RFZ: Can you tell us a little about the process, from the time a box is delivered to your door?
CO: As I mentioned, when a submission comes in, it’s unpacked, and if any damage has occurred during the shipping process, they photograph it and communicate that with the artist. The pieces are then logged into our system, labeled, and then distributed to the appropriate editor. Each editor organizes their magazines’ incoming submissions according to issue, and once a deadline has come, we lay each piece out for our art selection committee to look at and review. Art isn’t selected until the team can plan the entire issue out. Once an issue has been planned out, we then notify the selected artists to let them know we need an article or additional information from them, label all of the artwork for photography, and then meet with our photographers. When the artwork is being photographed, we format all the copy, write any stories we need to, and then hand all of our files over to our designers who then put the issues together. There’s a lot more that goes into it, but you get the idea.
• One reason that we can’t return artwork right away is that we like to keep it on hand in case our photographers need to do any re-shoots. Once we have the physical issue in our hands from our printers is when our art management team begins returning the pieces.
Whew, huh?
Christen will be blogging about this in more detail later, but I couldn’t pass up a chance to share this photo and and a little bit of inside info about what the submission process is really like. If you’ve got any questions, be sure to check the website of the magazine to which you’re thinking about submitting, and feel free to ask questions. Magazines can’t function without input, and everyone wants to see new, fresh art.
So what are you waiting for, hmmm?

Whew.

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10 Responses to Get Your Stuff Out There, Part III: Magazine Submissions

  1. Seth says:

    Who knew? Thanks for this informative, behind the scenes post.

  2. DycheDesigns says:

    Great article, thanks for sharing this information.

  3. Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

    Thanks! And isn’t that amazing? I mean, I’ve been there to their offices, and I still had NO idea of the sheer volume of submissions. It makes me tired just thinking about having to choose from among all the cool stuff in those packages. Glad I don’t have to.

  4. jzoss says:

    i think it would be like your birthday every day! opening all the packages and ooooing over what is in them…thanks for all you do at Stampington…a quality company

  5. i have to put this out there, as i don’t put a lot of my work out there, mainly cuz of content, …i don’t believe that all art is pretty….and a lot of my work is downright nasty and sarcastic…..when i make altered books which is something that i love to do……i am writing my own story , or rewriting there;s….i think of myself as a book rerighter. when i make these….and feel that my work might not belong in these pretty magazines…yet that is my art…..i guess i am going to just have to take the leap, you know the leap and just do it……

  6. cat kerr says:

    I just submitted some pieces and I am thankful for your article and information.Warm Regards,Cat Kerr

  7. pklaproth says:

    Wow! I feel even more honored to have some of my art published! This is an amazing amount of submissions and work.

  8. allisonstrine says:

    That kind of volume makes me think that the artists who get published can really feel that their work is valuable! Way to go, arteests!

  9. Nic Hohn says:

    Gives me food for thought for my next submission. Love the de-mystifying of the behind the scene processes.

  10. Clyndago says:

    Now I really feel honored by being published in Stampington publications! Thank you for the behind the scenes look at this remarkable company!

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