There have been a few conversations happening regarding submissions lately, and so I thought I would share some of my insight and perspective on the topic!
It’s true, wedding blogs would not be in existence if it wasn’t for submissions of weddings and shoots from wedding pros. And what’s also true is that it’s pretty fun to look at pretty pictures all the time.
Back when I started blogging full time, I envisioned my days being filled with reviewing submissions all day long, surrounded by beauty all the time. The reality is, submissions and the process of blogging them are actually a very small portion of running a blog full time.
My whole thought process surrounding this topic basically started because I did a quick little poll on Facebook to ask what people expected a reasonable time frame to hear back about a submission, and the average answer has been 2 weeks.
I’ll be the first to tell you that while 2 weeks is my goal, sometimes it takes me 4 weeks, maybe even 6 weeks, to review submissions. Heck, I was even 2 months behind at one point, thanks to morning sickness and traveling. It’s because there are several aspects involved in reviewing submissions, time just being one of them. I personally have tried to stick to one day a week for submissions, dedicating most of the day to reviewing submissions and setting my editorial calendar. That didn’t end up working out, because if I was out of the office on that day, the submissions didn’t get reviewed and I fell behind. Currently, I’m dedicating portions of a few days per week to reviewing submissions, and I’ve gotten myself *somewhat* caught up, and am now able to review on a 7-10 day wait.
But those several aspects that I referred to above that are involved in reviewing submissions? I want to share more about those, because I figure it’s better for everyone to know than be kept in the dark! (Note: These are my personal opinions- I have no idea what other editors experience!)
I have always given priority to my V List Members (i.e., those who are supporting Every Last Detail financially), but this year I’m being more vocal and intentional about it. In fact, as I was writing this, I just stopped everything to review submissions from 2 V List Members. I give this priority because it’s my job to make sure that those who are paying me are getting exposure, and features are one of the ways that I can ensure this. I not only review members fist, but I also schedule them ahead of others as well, so they are featured sooner rather than later. It’s the least I can do for the people who have chosen to monetarily support Every Last Detail. Now do others do this? I’m not sure- you’ll have to ask them!
Editorial Calendar Variance
Blush weddings are THE most popular. However, not all of us want to feature blush all day every day. It would bore our readers, and it doesn’t help anyone for one feature to look the same as the next. Which is why we must make sure to include variety in our features. Sometimes that might mean waiting for the right time to feature something, it might mean scheduling it out for a few weeks or months, or it might mean turning down a gorgeous wedding. Every editor’s editorial calendar is different, and the way that they strive to achieve their variety could be different too.
Needed information or images
Sometimes, we need more information or images, and that puts a kink in our typical process. This is why it’s so important to make sure you’re providing as much info as possible with the submission, because waiting for a few images or a bride’s email address can definitely add a few weeks to your wait time.
I’m pretty sure one of the most hated rejection reasons on Two Bright Lights is likely “Details are not a fit stylistically”. I hate it too, simply because it doesn’t provide enough specifics. But it’s true- sometimes things just aren’t a fit because of the style or details of a wedding. A few of the things that I just can’t look beyond, even if the photography is stunning and the rest of the wedding is amazing:
– distracting items on the table, including bad table numbers (i.e. pieces of paper in holders, salt and pepper shakers, cream and sugar, mirrors under centerpieces, etc)
– fake flowers
– linens that don’t touch the ground
– chairs that detract from the whole entire look of the wedding design
I know all of these things are details and are small in the grand scheme of things, but you must remember that a wedding publication exists to provide inspiration to brides and grooms. If we’re showcasing something that is “meh”, then that’s just going to perpetuated and doesn’t set a good example.
Not only this, but a wedding feature is meant to provide a “snapshot” of the wedding day. We can have all the gorgeous portrait photos in the world, but if we don’t have enough details to create that full snapshot, then we’re not doing our job. Because again, couples are looking for inspiration, and they want to see how other couples have created their wedding days so they can be inspired by that.
Submissions do take a TON of time. Sometimes it’s time that an editor doesn’t have. (Now if it’s a huge publication/corporation with a team to specifically handle submissions, that’s another story. But I’m talking about a small team here.) And to tell you the truth, when having to choose between activities that would result in making money and handling editorial submissions, for me, the making money activities HAVE to win because I have a family and team to support.
I’ve been jotting notes down for this post here and there as I’ve been going through submissions in a day. I started at about 10am, and it’s now 3pm and submissions are pretty much all I have done all day (even though I had goals to do much, much more). It takes so long because of all the elements I mentioned above, but also because there’s the downloading of images, gathering of information, deciding when something should be posted, tracking down whether a bride answered her interview questions that you sent her 3 months ago, tracking down the 3 additional centerpiece images you requested from the photographer, making sure there aren’t two blush weddings too close together (basically just not one after another), updating submitters with their scheduled publication dates, making sure one vendor isn’t featured too much in a specific time frame, and likely a few other things that aren’t coming to mind for me right this second.
All this to say… after 7 years, I’ve finally developed somewhat of a system to keep this chaos somewhat organized- you don’t even want to see my spreadsheet. And I’m lucky in that I now have an editorial assistant (who you will be hearing from soon) who handles the actual creation of features now (something that I had to let go of in preparation for Baby), so the backend elements and editing are all that I have to deal with now. But I just wanted to provide you all with a glimpse of what submissions are like for an editor, and why it might take a little longer to hear back at times.
The moral of the story is this: read guidelines, do your research, and provide all of the information you possibly can about your submission, and you will make an editor’s job way easier… and make it easier for us to say “yes” to featuring you!