Skip to content

5 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When Submitting Work

If you are trying to submit your work to a fashion or photography publication, then it can be really disheartening to get a rejection. After all, you have worked hard and you believe that your work is great. The thing is, it might not be the quality of your photographs that is the problem. It could well be that you are letting yourself down with errors that could be avoided!

Especially if you are getting rejection after rejection after rejection, you may want to take a look at the submission itself and see if you might be doing something wrong. It can be a little overwhelming when you first start trying to get your images published, so you might skip over something or make an easy mistake time and time again. Before you send off that next submission, take a look over this list and be sure to check your work. Are you guilty of any of these mistakes?


  1. Not reading the guidelines properly

When a magazine asks for submissions, they normally lay out guidelines. You should be able to find these on their website, or you can send them an email to ask if you are not sure. You need to make sure that you take the time to read these guidelines properly.

Many magazines receive hundreds or even thousands of submissions a week. All of these emails must be looked through by an editor, and that means a lot of time spent reading through them to filter out which ones will be featured in their pages. If a submission is not formatted as requested or does not have the required information attached, chances are they will delete it without even looking at the images.

Make sure that you have double-checked:

  • Where to send the email
  • Who to address it to, if anyone
  • What subject line to use
  • What information should be in the body of your email
  • Which file format to add your images in
  • What size and ratio they should be
  • How you should name the images
  • Whether you need to attach consent forms or other documents
  • How often to send submissions
  • Whether or not the submission period is currently open
  • How many images to include
  • Whether there is a monthly theme to stick to

These are just some of the considerations which are common to a lot of magazines. The particular publication you are looking at may include even more requirements. For example, you could even find a request to add in a particular phrase or word to prove that you have read the guidelines all the way to the bottom.


  1. Not researching the publication


Before you send your submission, ask yourself if you actually know what the publication is about. Is it themed towards a certain kind of fashion, style of photography, or theme? For example, if you were submitting something to Dark Beauty Magazine, you would notice that all of their published images fit into the dark theme in some way. Without reading that, you might think that all your models had to be beautiful women with dark skin instead!

Take a look at the kind of images they publish. If it is a magazine that you cannot read for free, and you do not have the spare money to buy a copy, then you can always take a look at their social media and the images they post there. Learn what kind of work they like to publish.

You should also take the time to look around their site and see whether they have themes for their issues. Some magazines do, and some don’t. What you need to be careful of is that you are not sending along images that do not fit the current theme. Even if the editor likes them, they will not be able to publish them unless you submit them at the right time.


  1. Not using professional-style retouching

The look and style of your images is really important. In most cases, magazines are only going to accept images that look as though they have been retouched professionally. This means that colour correction should have been done, they should have the right level of contrast, and any blurs or blemishes left by dust on the lens should be removed.

You should also remove blemishes from the skin, boost the make-up, take out unsightly folds or bulges in the clothes, smooth out the background, and so on. Look into the magazine itself to see if there is anything specific to be aware of. Some magazines like to have advertisement-level retouching, where everything is completely smooth. Others like a more realistic texture to the skin. There are even a few magazines out there which insist that you do not retouch at all!

If you struggle with Photoshop, that does not have to be the case. You can save your submitted images with some Photoshop actions that make it easier to get the job done. For example, the Everyday Essentials collection will get the details in the hair and face up to scratch. You can also play around with techniques like colour toning to make an image more interesting.


  1. Sending a mass email

If you are busy, that’s fine. Most editors realize that you are going to be sending something as fast as you can, and that you will be moving on to the next magazine if you get a rejection. But there are some key email mistakes that you really need to look out for.

  • NEVER send the email to a number of magazines at the same time, especially not with the CC’d email addresses visible. Magazines do not like simultaneous submissions (sent to more than one magazine at the same time) and they definitely do not like you to make it obvious like this.
  • Do not forward on the last email you sent without checking it over. Look out for the “FW:” at the start of your email subject, the information about the last email and when it was sent, and addressing the wrong person at the start of your email. You should also not have the name of a different magazine than the one you are submitting to anywhere in your email or your files.
  • Do not send a generic email with no information added so that you can get away with sending the same one as often as you like. Fill out the information asked for and personalise each email.


  1. Submitting an old or out of season piece

Finally, there are a few more reasons why you may be rejected. If you send over an old shoot, it could be that the style of the images or the clothes is no longer in fashion or desirable. It could be that the idea has been overdone, even if it was very original when you first did it. It could even be that you have posted or published it elsewhere previously, which most magazines will not accept.

This also applies to the time of year that you send a submission. There is not much point in sending a bikini editorial for publication in a December issue. Likewise, if you send a snowy winter scene in July, it is not like to be accepted.


Have you made any similar goofs? Or are you an editor yourself? Let us know about the mistakes you’ve seen or made.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *