Tips from a New Designer
I am a “new” crochet designer. I am new because I just started submitting designs to publications in 2008. I have been having some success with it, too. I was blessed to have my very first submission accepted. That turned out to be my Mulled Spices Afghan, which is in the Winter 2008 issue of Interweave Crochet. Since that first submission, I have had several designs accepted for publication. I’ve also received positive feedback about my submissions.
Lately, I’ve been getting questions about how to submit a design to be published so I wanted to write this list of tips to share what I have been doing as a brand new crochet designer. I truly encourage anyone who wants to do a submission to please give it a try. The more of us that submit the better. The greater the chances are that we will see more crochet patterns that are innovative, fresh and exciting.
In the past, I’ve been a victim of “analysis paralysis,” and I spent time researching and contemplating how to submit for years without having the courage to take the leap. I asked lots of questions and also read a lot about “how do I prepare a submission to XYZ Magazine.” I studied how artists, authors, writers and other non-crochet creative people prepare their submissions. I’ve also looked at submissions that some bloggers have shared that included pictures of their drawings and/or submission packages. Did all that help? I don’t know, but I suggest you not do like I did. It’s better to get started and learn as you go along.
I’ve also had some rejections of my own, and while acknowledging that my designs just might not have been what was wanted, I also reevaluated my submissions and compared them against the ones I’ve had accepted to see what made some winners and others not.
I sent my first submission on my own without having anyone to consult. I just tried to make sure I followed the guidelines to the “T.” Since that time, I’ve gotten a mentor(s) through the CGOA mentor program, and I now have their expert advice to tap. I want to share my observations and information that I’ve collected on creating a crochet submission package for publication. I know there are many who have been doing submissions for years, and I’m sure they may do things differently than I do and know way more about this, but I hope this is helpful to at least one crocheter.
Without revealing exactly what I do because I think we should all be unique and also because I don’t want to be copied (ha!), below I’ve listed the steps I take to prepare my submissions.
Before you begin to compose your submission package, be sure to read over the editorial calendar, submission guidelines and application form several times. Make sure you understand every component that you are asked to include. After you’ve digested the guidelines, you are ready to begin to put your package together. These are the components of my submission packages.
1. Cover Letter
Start with a brief note or cover letter introducing yourself, indicating for which publication you are submitting, and a detailed description of what you are enclosing.
2. Describe Your Design
Descriptions of your design concept are probably the most important part of your submission. Remember you are selling the idea of your design because they won’t be able to look at a complete physical representation of your creation. Your description of your design must include what it is, what is your design’s purpose, are there any alternative uses, who would use your design and why, how is it made (what stitches, what techniques, what hook, what yarn, what additional materials are used), and what degree of difficulty. Be very descriptive. For example, when I submitted my proposal for the Mulled Spices Afghan, I described how the afghan was lightweight and perfect for curling up in front of a fire while sipping hot cider. Try to create a visual image.
It is better to send a larger sized swatch. Don’t only send a 4×4 square that shows the main stitch pattern used for the body of the garment, unless a 4×4 square is what is requested. What about the hem, the waistband, the neckline, the button closure, or a special flower? Be sure to show how you plan to finish your design also. If you have more than one stitch pattern being used in your design, swatch for all of them. You can make one large swatch that includes your different stitch patterns and any edge treatments or you can make separate swatches. Don’t forget to weave in your loose ends. You want your swatch to be a miniature, finished representation of your design.
Sketches are important. Even if you cannot draw, attempt to approximate what you are proposing. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Croquis are quick line drawings of figures that can be used for fashion drawings. If you cannot create your own, you can trace the outline of a figure, draw on it and color in the design. There are many places to find croquis online. Just enter a search for “fashion croquis,” and you will see websites dedicated to creating croquis, both for free and for sale. Taunton Press’ Threads Magazine has an entire set called the “Croquis Family” that is available as a free download. The set includes croquis for an average woman, a petite woman, a plus sized woman, a man, a child and a toddler. If you are doing a geometric-type design such as an afghan, graph paper or an Excel spreadsheet are good ways to sketch out your design.
I will continue Part II tomorrow.