How to Get Your Work Published

Gentry Design Cover - RKI Interior Design

Nothing beats the feeling of pride that comes from receiving critical acclaim for your creative vision and artistic talent. We all strive for the opportunities that arise from having our ideas and accomplishments heralded as the standard for which others should aspire...not to mention the greater perceived value of our work.

If managed properly, editorial publication in well-known, respected magazines can act as a springboard for your career and lead to securing larger, more creative, interesting projects in the future.

What do I need to do to get published?
The short answer is to submit your projects to the magazines. Here’s how ...

• Pitch the project
Submitting a well-written and concise pitch accompanied by largish .jpeg photographs is the best way to ensure that magazine decision makers learn what they need to and see what they should in order to select your project from the hundreds they receive.

• Show, don’t tell
In the early ’90s, I read an interview with the editor of Interior Design magazine. One thing he said has always stayed with me. Roughly paraphrased, he said: “People think we publish projects, but they are wrong. We publish photographs of projects.”

Magazine editors and art directors must see the quality, charm, and creativity of your work as well as be given a good description of your project before they will consider it for publication. The best way to do this is to send well-crafted, editorial quality photographs that communicate your vision and illustrate your pitch.

• Be available, demonstrably so
The decision makers at these publications are every bit as time challenged as you are. If they like what they see, they’ll get back to you and ask for more information and larger pictures. Make yourself easy to reach by including your name, email address, and phone number in the text of the email.

• Follow up
After a few weeks, get in touch by sending a brief note to prod the editor. Don’t send 15 emails asking if he or she saw your project. Send one or two over the course of a few months. If you don’t receive a positive response, simply move on to your second choice magazine.

As usual the long answer is more complex, but also more helpful.

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) published a pamphlet on this subject, entitled "How to Get Your Work Published." There are also dozens of articles and interviews online that say pretty much the same thing, but I’ve summarized them below for your convenience.

1. Develop a strategic plan.
There is no guarantee that your project will be selected for publication, so it’s wise to have a plan that will maximize your chances of being published somewhere. Select your top three magazines and submit to them – one at a time. If your first choice doesn’t choose your project, submit to your second choice, etc.

Kitchen Solutions - Viscusi Elson Interior Design

2. Submit to appropriate magazines.
You don’t want to waste your time, or that of the editor, by submitting a traditional home to Dwell or a trendy restaurant to Better Homes and Gardens. The magazines and design journals you read and review are good candidates for your work, and it will look like it belongs there because those publications influence your artistic style and creative vision.

3. Research the magazines.
Read the stories. Sounds obvious, but one editor suggests reading a year’s worth of their magazines before submitting a project to them. By deeply researching a magazine’s published content, you’ll get a better idea of what they will print.
• Do they want photographs of the homeowner or designer in the spaces?
• Will they publish a small project with only one or two images, or are they looking for entire homes and need 11–16 photographs?

4. Review the magazine’s editorial calendar.
Submit your project at least six months prior to the edition that would be most suitable for your project. Tell the editor which issue you think your project is best suited for. By doing so, you let the editor know you’re not sending out blanket submissions to every magazine you can find.

5. Don’t write the article, pitch the project.
Write a short description (less than 300 words) of the project. Be concise and stick to a straight-forward presentation of the facts: project description, the client’s needs (the design challenge), how the design works to resolve the challenge, and why readers of the magazine would find this interesting.

6. Invest in good photography.
 While you can certainly send in snapshots you took with your phone, keep in mind that submitting for publication is as much a beauty contest as any design award. Professional photographs that showcase your vision beautifully will enhance the quality and creativity of your work and improve your chances of being selected for publication. 

Q: Won’t the magazine pay for the photography?
A: It depends, but don’t count on it.

Interior Design won’t pay for photography. They require that editorial quality images be submitted.
Elle Decor will always photograph a project themselves to control the presentation.


7. The Magazines Want To be the First to Announce Your Achievement to the World.
Magazine publishers want to be the first to showcase your project. So, here’s a word of caution. Don’t post the images on your website, Houzz, Pinterest, Facebook, or blog. Using your images in emails is also a bad idea because your prospect could post them to your Facebook page the next day and ruin your chances for publication.

You can show the photographs on your iPad or in your print portfolio, but don’t put them anywhere they could be distributed, or the magazines could reject the project as previously published.

M Magazine - House 2 Home Design and Build

8. Competition Entry.
Most competition awards include publication of the winners, so forego entering any competition until you’ve exhausted your publication options. Most design competitions provide a two-year window of opportunity from the year of project completion to the time of entry. Your publication strategy should provide results or final rejection within this time frame.

9. Submit your project
Send your pitch in the text of an email. Include largish .jpeg pictures as attachments to the email and make it easy for them to contact you by including your name, email address, and phone number in the text of the email as well.

10. Followup
Be patient and professional. Give the editor a reasonable amount of time to review your pitch and then send a polite follow-up email. Four to six weeks should be enough time for them to have reviewed the project and is a good point to touch base.

Here’s a helpful Resource: Five Reasons Why Your Interior Design Project May NOT be Published...
1.It’s not unique enough.
2.Your scouting photography doesn’t capture the space well.
3.Your projects are too something: too big, too small, too low-end, too high-end.
4.There’s not enough to show.
5. Your project is over-exposed.