As a photographer and also the editor of Femme Rebelle Magazine and BOMBSHELL Magazine I've decided to write this little guide to magazine submissions! I'm no writer though so it will be fairly straight forward with no flowery prose but hopefully you'll gain some valuable tips!
This is all from my own perspective of course and geared towards my own experiences as editor for this particular magazine - different publications have different guidelines so make sure you do your own research in to that before you submit your work.
Look at the magazine's website. Get a feel for the types of images they publish - there is mostly one editor who is deciding on content, whether your work is accepted will largely depend on their particular taste. For instance, with Bombshell Magazine we love pin-up and vintage. The fantastic Sinical Magazine prefers very classy fetish images with nylons, Delicious Dolls love pin-up and cheesecake with a vintage twist, Dark Beauty print very avant garde gothic work - every magazine is different so choose carefully for your own submission.
You will most likely be submitting to 'print'on demand' magazines. Lets explain a bit about how that works - magazines are very costly to publish in high volume runs, the magazines you buy off the shelf in WHSmiths have tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of issues each month. The cost is low to you, the consumer, as they typically sell all those issues too and make most of their revenue from big name advertisers! With small magazines it is not effective to do things this way as the number of actual issues sold each month is a lot lower. Thanks to the new printing platforms, even small magazines can now be printed and sold. Each time someone orders a copy, the printing platform (like Magcloud, Peecho or Blurb) will print it and distribute on behalf of the editor or owner of the magazine. Of course they charge the editor for this privilege and therefore this cost is passed on in the sale price. With print-on-demand magazines please don't expect to be paid for contributing or for the editor to post you free copies - they simply don't have the magazines lying about! However most will certainly send you digital 'tear sheets' of your feature so you can promote online.
Usually the person submitting will be either the model or the photographer, sometimes the make-up artist or designer. In all cases the photographer will need to sign a Release Form giving their permission, as copyright holders, for their images to be published. Please don't waste anyone's time if you are planning to submit without your photographer knowing, they may not agree and then the work already done by you and me will be totally wasted. We understand that you really want your work to be published but sending the same set to multiple magazines at the same time is another huge waste of our time as you then have to pull content already submitted. Please wait to hear back from one editor before trying another. We won't review work that has obviously been pimped around.
Do not be offended if your work is not accepted this time - most editors are happy to provide feedback and encourage new talent (- this is time-consuming though so don't be surprised if a small charge is made for this) It goes without saying that forging signatures, submitting images that are stolen or being rude to your editor is generally not tolerated very well - please don't be surprised to learn that many of us editors are in contact with each other as well - if you break the rules your name will be passed on!
One of the quickest ways to irritate your editor is to not submit your images correctly - being 'correct' can mean different things to each magazine so make sure you read the submission guidelines carefully. If they ask for low resolution images first then make sure you don't clog up their drives with huge 30MB images! At Femme Rebelle we ask for hi-res images sent by WeTransfer or Dropbox - this is so we can clearly view the quality of your work on a big PC screen. Ignoring this just means a back and forwards exchange of emails that eats into our valuable time! For most magazine editors GoogleDrive is a definate no-no - you have to go into every image individually and download seperately - Don't use it!
If you are a photographer then try and shoot with publication in mind - pay attention to format, image orientation, variety and interest. At Femme Rebelle we accept any number of images from 1 - 10, how many are published will depend on a few factors:
Common to all magazines, acceptance is based on quality. While I do love to feature new photographers and models, the larger spreads will only be given to top-notch photographic work. Here is the Femme Rebelle Magazine guide to having your images accepted (or more images accepted).
1. Please don't submit selfies, mobile phone images or snaps taken at events. We also don't want 'look-book' type images of designers outfits or pics of the model grinning at the camera in front of a fabulous location - be creative! We also don't want to see your boyfriend's photos of you taken bending over the kitchen units (yes we really have received all these). Your images should be professionally shot!
2. Make sure you submit a cohesive set - simply sending in all your fave images from different shoots will probably mean a rejection, these images have most likely been shown online as well - we like brand new unseen images. Also, please don't send in huge amounts of images from your shoot and expect us to cherry pick the best ones - as photographer this is your job - only send your very best EDITED images.
3. Some art nudity or glamour is fine if done artistically but we won't feature gratuitous topless shots or sets that show a model stripping. Our style is not close-ups of body parts or bags/shoes etc - we like to focus on the photograph as a whole - not the clothes or the boobs! Its good to try and tell a story with your images.
4. As a photographer myself I am VERY picky about post work - your editing should be VERY good. I reject more images based on this than anything else. Poor skin work is horrible to look at and magnified 100 times in print it looks truly appalling. No editing on poor rough skin at all is just as worse especially on close-up images.
5. Your images need to have something in common to flow as a cohesive set. Pay attention to colour and white balancing - your images need to have the same colour tones, this can mean the difference between us accepting 2 images from your set or all of them.
6. As space is limited per issue we do prefer most of your submissions to be in the portrait format. This again can mean you get more images accepted. If your images are horizontal then they must NOT have the main focus in the centre - this is lost in the binding. Images like this will be rejected.
7. We also reject MANY submissions because of poor hair and make-up. This needs to be absolutely perfect and professional looking. Many experienced models have learnt to do this VERY well, lots of new models are not very good at doing their own make-up for shoots - please plan your shoot carefully and make sure you have a good team around you!
8. Being a photographer of women for many years I am very particular about clothing. I will reject images based on poor styling and cheap looking clothes. Watch for labels showing, straps twisted, creases and poorly fitting cheap corsets and trashy lingerie. However beautiful your model if the clothing isn't right then your images will not be selected.
9. There are some images that are 'done to death' and we will now most likely not use images in baths or naked girls in woods.
10. Some magazines love endless images of the same model in the same setting and outfits - we don't! However fabulous your photography this will limit the amount of your images we will use. Introduce variety with different outfits, backgrounds and angles - but make sure they still all 'match' in some way with tones, designers or post work.
11. Femme Rebelle is primarily a photographic magazine, our number one priority is great photography that is technically perfect. I often receive submissions from models who have the most amazing ideas, great costumes, fabulous styling and make-up who set up their shoots with a poor photographer - even if you had an incredible shoot and felt it all came together, without perfect photography your ideas have come to little more than a series of out of focus snaps. Please don't be surprised if your submission is then rejected - its not you, its not the styling, its the poor execution of the image capture. Choose your photographer carefully!
12. I am a stickler for focus - we prefer pin-sharp focused images - of course this doesn't mean the wonderful artistic blur that some of you love - I love that too, but believe me I can tell the difference between that and a mis-focus. We will not accept any images that are out of focus, so don't bother submitting them. Please be careful when cropping in too much on distant images, resoolution is lost and it is very obvious when I reveiew images like this what has happened. Try as far as possible to always get your image right in camera first.
13. With a good technical image, we look for composition, focus, interest, and good posing. Watch out for poor angles, double chins, awkward feet and hands. One thing we don't like to see is lower body fore-shortening - this is when you've used too wide an angle, stood too close to your model and shot from your eye-line. Her legs look stumpy!
I hope this doesn't sound too harsh but its just a guide to saving time really (mine and yours!). I am always happy to provide feedback if you want it too - we have an excellent service that can go into a lot of detail with each of your images - this is an invaluable tool to learn and get better!