Ruby Falls, oil, 16 x 20" by Gabor Svagrik, one of many artists I met when I was an art magazine editor
So my last two posts have focused on landing news media coverage, so now let’s talk about getting featured in magazines. Although magazine editors often reach out to people they discover through research, it’s also perfectly acceptable—even smart—for you to pitch an idea about your artwork to a magazine editor. If you get featured, even in the briefest of profiles, you’re once again getting your name and your work in front of people who aren’t yet familiar with you.
There are many opportunities to get featured in a publication with a readership that would have an interest in your work. Let’s explore a few examples. Did you start your career late in life? Maybe AARP would be interested in featuring you. Do you paint subjects in your local community? Maybe a city- or state-centered magazine would like to give you a quick profile. Paint pet portraits? Pet lovers’ magazines. You get the picture. If you can find a creative reason why a magazine’s readers might be interested in your work, you’ve got the basis for a pitch letter. One caveat: If you’re thinking about seeking coverage in an art magazine, go for the collectors’ magazines, not the magazines for other artists (The Artist’s Magazine, International Artist, etc.) since artists generally don’t buy art.
Curtain Call XIII, oil, 12 x 40" by Clinton Hobart
Here are some additional tips:
1. Research the editorial staff of each publication on the magazine’s website. If it’s a smaller publication, there will probably only be one or two editors listed so figure out who the Editor—the person at the top of the list—is. On larger publications, however, there will be quite a few editors listed so look for the one who covers the arts or whose specialty is somehow related to your work. Also identify the Managing Editor or Associate Editor.
2. Pitch the story and get a green light before you write (or worse, pay someone else to write) the article. Editors do not want to receive pre-written articles. In fact, they'd prefer to consult with you on the content of your article before it's written. They might even want to have a staff member or freelance writer of their choice write the article. Even if you do end up writing it yourself or hiring someone to write for you, don't invest any time or money into writing the full article until an editor has agreed to publish it when it's done.
3. Write a convincing pitch letter or e-mail. The key to getting published is to convince the editor that a story about you or the group you represent will be great for the magazine's readers. You do this by sending a pitch letter that explains a) the original "angle" or subject that you can provide, b) how the information will benefit the magazine's readers, and c) why your credentials make you worthy of space in the magazine. You do not want to write, "I would love to be featured because I could really use the publicity." The editor already knows that it would benefit you; he or she wants to know what's in it for him or her. The editor's job is to please the readers, not to promote you, so stay focused on that. Put yourself in the editor’s shoes when you make your pitch.
Nancy and Friends, oil, 16 x 20" by Richard Schmid
4. Follow the instructions when submitting a proposal. The pitch letter is just one part of an overall proposal package that you'll submit to the editor. Other pieces may include examples of your work and your bio or resume. The important message here is to visit the magazine's website and hunt around until you find their info on Submissions or Proposals or Submission Guidelines or similar. Once you've found their instructions, follow them to a T. If they want it electronically, send it that way. If they want it by snail mail, send it that way. And send everything they ask for and nothing more. If you absolutely can't find any guidelines on their website, check the masthead for the name of the current Managing Editor or Assistant Editor, and send him or her an e-mail asking for submission instructions.
5. Be patient in waiting for a response. It's not unusual to wait a minimum of three months before you get a response. If you haven't heard by then, send a brief, polite e-mail or make a brief, polite phone call to the Managing Editor or Assistant Editor, asking for a follow-up.
6. If you'd like to contact competing magazines (magazines with the same audience and probably the same readers), do it one at a time. Start with your favorite/most promising one. Only when you've heard a definite "no" should you move on to the next one on your list. And never, ever agree to be featured in competing magazines at roughly the same time. It makes the magazines look bad, which damages your reputation.
Media coverage may be an old-school marketing method, but it still works. Admittedly, you’ll send out a lot of press releases and plenty more pitch letters that never yield results, but when you make it through, the results may be invaluable. In my opinion, it’s worth the time and effort.
Have you managed to get yourself some press coverage? How’d you do it? Let’s connect!
Triumvirate, acrylic, 28 x 26.5" by Andrew Denman