Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I used to teach

I've taught many classes in the past on design at Parsons, and The Learning Annex. I've also been a creative director for many years and have seen tons of submissions. When I taught, here's an issue that always came up: "If I submit my idea to a publisher, how do I know that my idea will not get stolen". This would usually come from students taking one of their very first design classes.

Here's my opinion. It's tough to come up with a truly original, unique idea. Which is not to say that an average idea can't work. It usually does, and very often gets published, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Publishers see TONS and TONS of submissions. Chances are good that they've already seen 12 of your ideas in the past, or already thought of your idea in some way themselves. They are not in the business of "stealing" people's ideas. They don't need to.

Also, a truly creative person who is most likely to be successful does not have ONE creative idea. They have hundreds. On the off chance that someone DOES "steal" your idea (which is highly unlikely), you'll have many more to follow through with. My motto is: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The wonderful idea that is sitting on your desk will not get "stolen". It will also not get published.

If you have an idea you believe in...take a risk, and send it out. BUT, do your research. Go to a major bookstore like Barnes & Noble, or Borders and look for similar products and ideas. See what's out there. Find out who is publishing ideas that are similar to your own. How does your idea compare. How is it BETTER? How does it fill a niche that is DIFFERENT? Do your market research. THEN, view several publishers websites and follow their guidelines for submission. Do your homework, and send in a thoughtful, well-written proposal. You can also try to contact an agent.

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