Melanie Rockett –
All Rights Reserved
Part One of this Article can be found Here
In Part One of this series we covered three main points:
1) The Greeting Card Market is HUGE and is opened to
photographers, illustrators and writers. The Calendar market is mostly open
to photographers though the daily desk top line can be something that
writers have access to.
2) The pay range for photographers is $50 to $1200 per photo
and the range for writers is $15 to $150 per verse or concept.
The market place for greeting cards is large enough that is possible for
beginners to break into. The calendar market is not as large as one might
imagine because of the limited number of photos used ... and
competition is tough.
The bottom line is .. there is a big market for writers and
photographers and illustrators who have material suited to this market
Many photographers and writers shy away from this market
simply because they don't know how to approach it or how to submit their
work. Compared to getting into the magazine market, there is relatively
little information on how to get started.
So start by differentiating yourself from your competition
... and do your homework. Start by getting some of the resources I recommend
from the library or the bookstore. The books on "writing" greeting cards
will also be useful to photographers and illustrators because they are a
good introduction to the market and how it works.
The second area of doing your homework is to check out the
marketplace listings. Then visit all your local card and calendar stores.
You will start recognizing the names on the products (Hallmark and Carlton
being two of the largest). In the independent card stores you will also see
specialty lines. If they aren't in your list ... make a note of them
including their address and website info. Also take notes on what kinds of
cards are popular today (trends change). What companies are buying photos vs
illustrations. What lines do the companies have? Humor, blank cards, sports,
animal etc. Are the card concepts quirky or traditional. Are the verses
sappy, traditional, contemporary, wacky?
Unless you already have an established name as a writer,
poet, illustrator or photographer you probably won't be able to get into the
larger companies .... yet. Make note of the smaller companies and especially
the companies that aren't listed in the market guides.
If you are aiming at the calendar market, keep your eyes open
for non-traditional publishers who get calendars printed specifically for
advertising purposes. Real Estate companies for example, regularly print
calendars for their realtors to hand out to clients. Start paying attention
to the calendars hanging on the walls, in the garages of all your friends,
clients and relatives.
Make notes on ALL card stores in your area. Are they "boxed"
stores or do they carry a wide range of lines. Specifically do they carry
any lines done by local artists.
For example, the Vancouver Public Library has a very nice and
busy shop that sells gift items and raises funds for the library. They carry
several lines of greeting cards featuring local artists. Some of these lines
are "hand-crafted" while several others are printed by local publishers.
Now that you've done your background work and have researched
the market thoroughly, you should know if and how your work fits in. You
should also have an idea of what the smaller publishers buy. If you think
there's a fit, it's time to start approaching the markets.
When a publisher is "local" to you, make a phone call,
introduce yourself and ask them to view your portfolio if you are a
photographer or illustrator. If you are a writer, talk to them about their
current and future needs. Are they planning on developing new lines? Can you
submit your work for these lines. Are they open to ideas for new lines?
Whenever possible try to create personal relationships.
In most cases publishers will not be local and you will have
to contact them by mail, phone or email. Read the market listing guides to
see how the publisher prefers to be contacted. I almost always prefer to
make my first connection by phone, but if you are shy you may prefer to
create a professional looking package that illustrates your work. Develop an
introductory cover letter introducing yourself and your specialty. At this
point, your submission would be considered to be "unsolicited" and it may
just be thrown onto a slush pile until the editor or publisher has time to
review it. Because of this I would advise against submitting any original
work. If you are submitting slides or illustrations ... you should make good
quality copies (and mark them as such so the viewer knows they are looking
If you are working on a slim budget mail is OK, but you stand
a better chance of your work being viewed if you send your package by
courier. Follow up with a phone call to make sure your package was received
(and hopefully talk to the editor at that point).
The reason I prefer to initiate with a phone call is because
I can often create interest in my work in the call. When an editor asks for
a submission, your package will be viewed and responded to faster, and
follow-up phone calls will be more readily taken.
you are working at selling to the mainstream publishers you should
also start thinking outside the box to see what other kinds
of opportunities you can create for yourself.
Would you be interested in creating your own limited edition
greeting card line? Can you locate local or regional businesses who might be
interested in printing their own calendars?
Over a decade ago I sold photos for a calendar for 4 years in
a row to a regional trucking firm. They started the first year by purchasing
one photo for one of those one-picture-for-the-whole-year types of
calendars. The next year I up sold them on producing a 12 month + cover
photo (13 photos) calendar. The topic was Northern Alberta and the trucking
companies' equipment. Not very sexy, but I was able to purchase a full kit
of Nikon lenses with the fees.
Out of the box thinking is also how a friend in Vancouver
sells to 3 New York City gift shops. The shops are high volume and upscale
and order 12 dozen (144) cards at a time ... several times a year. My friend
illustrates her cards with her own unique photos and produces them in an
assembly line setup. Her next step will be to have her cards professionally
printed and expand her market.
Breaking into any market takes time and patience and
PERSISTENCE. If you strike out the first time, keep on trying. Keep on
submitting and keep on asking questions about what they would like to see
next. Keep your eyes open for new market trends to see if you can capitalize
on work you may already have. And while you are working at getting into the
greeting card and calendar markets, don't forget that your body of work is
also saleable in other market places.
Here are a few resources I
I have developed a "starter" list of over 50 companies that
publish greeting cards and calendars. See the list at:
Here are several books on
Writing Greeting Cards from
You Can Write Greeting Cards by Karen Ann
Writing for Quick Cash: Turn Your Way With Words into
by Loriann Hoff Oberlin
The Market Guides ... especially for Photographers and
Artists provides you with lists (and contacts) for Greeting Card companies.
I would suggest either the photographers or artists guides even for writers.
2006 Photographers Market
Artists & Graphic Designers Market 2006
Here are several books that show you how to write query
letters to approach publishers with your ideas or submission packages:
How to Write Irresistible Query Letters
How to Write Attention Grabbing Query & Cover Letters
Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches & Proposals
About the author:
Melanie Rockett is a writer,
photographer, author of 9 books, and webmaster of
proofpositive.com an information portal for
freelance writers and photographers.
Read Part One of this article here