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Nuts & Bolts: Faster Review Times

March 29, 2012

An evergreen topic of interest on GCU is review times. We’ve all been there, waiting several days, sometimes a couple of weeks or more, to find out if the card we submitted has been approved or declined.

Why does it take so long? Part of the answer lies in the sheer volume of submitted cards that must be gone over each day. However, another part is in the artist’s control – making fewer mistakes and following GCU’s guidelines. In addition, artists who make consistently near-perfect submissions might achieve Star Submitter status, which means (in many cases) getting same-day card approvals.

Bottom line: error-free cards will eventually result in shorter review times for all artists, most especially yourself.

Here are some tips that will help you out as you try to achieve perfection:

USE SPELLCHECK: It seems like a no-brainer, but spelling errors and grammatical errors are common mistakes that are easily correctable before your card is submitted for review. Check the spelling and grammar on the front of the card as well as the inside verse. If you have a program like MS Word, just create a new document with your intended text, and check the spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

HOLIDAY NAMES: Before you put, for example, “Happy Nurses Day” on the front of your card (or any other holiday, for that matter), check how the holiday is spelled in GCU’s category list. Is it Nurse’s Day? Nurses Day? Nurses’ Day? On GCU, it’s spelled Nurses Day. So always check the preferred spelling at GCU ’cause if you don’t and you get it wrong, your card will be kicked back to you.

READ THE GCU WIKI: And pay attention to the Image Guidelines. And use your common sense, please. It is simply not possible for GCU to give artists a 100% comprehensive list of what they will and will not approve, but following the general guidelines provided should result in less declined cards.

LEARN HOW GCU WORKS: It is especially critical that you learn how to properly categorize a card. Improper categorization is a major reason for resubmits.  Go read a previous Nuts & Bolts article on Categories – it will explain a lot and probably help you make better choices. In fact, all the Nuts and Bolts articles contain information on various aspects of GCU including keywords, Artist’s Notes, etc. Go read. We’ll wait. 🙂

LEARN YOUR CRAFT: Whether you’re an illustrator or a photographer, one of the greatest things you can do is learn your craft before you submit cards. We have a lot of information on this site, other artists have provided tutorials or links to tutorials and resources elsewhere, and there’s the GCU Forum, too. There’s no excuse for poor performance. “Good enough” isn’t good enough. Strive for perfection by actively learning how to take pictures or draw that bunny before you go through the agony of review – it will save you time and energy, not to mention angst. Oh, and keep in mind that “outside the box” and “challenging the rules” designs only work if you first understand the fundamentals of design. You have to comprehend the rules before you can break them.

BE SELF-CRITICAL: This will be hard for some artists, but you need to learn to look at your cards with a critical eye and a consumer’s eye.  The best way to do this is to study cards for sale in the racks at the grocery store, or go on-line to Hallmark and other retailers and check out their offerings. This will give you the best idea of what sells and what doesn’t. If your submission doesn’t equal what you see, maybe you should go back to the drawing board. There’s a reason why the big greeting card retailers are at the top of their game. It’s because they make designs that shoppers want to pay for.

USE THE NOTES TO REVIEWERS: If there’s something the reviewers need to know, tell them! This field is very useful for letting them know the submitted card is a variation of a card already approved (give the PID#), tell them you have a model release for that photo or that clip art is in the public domain + your source, etc. This is probably the best way to communicate with the review team, so use it!

REMEMBER WHAT GCU IS AND WHAT IT IS NOT: I’m going to be blunt – Greeting Card Universe is a business. A business selling greeting cards for profit.  GCU is not a place to experiment with your new point and shoot camera, to throw some images together to see if you can make a card, to slap together a snapshot of your cat with a piece of 90’s clipart that’s been moldering in your hard drive for decades, etc.  If you want to sell your designs or photographs as greeting cards to shoppers who are not your relatives, act like a pro. Do your homework so you can do the best possible job. Be serious about what you want to get out of GCU  Don’t just fart around in Photoshop and hope for the best.

And finally, don’t forget that we have a Critique Clinic every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday right here on the Community blog. It’s open to all artists. We accept not only currently approved cards, but also cards that have been declined or new designs you’d like vetted before you submit.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 29, 2012 1:36 pm

    Thank you for all these helpful tips. Very informative and useful! 🙂

  2. March 29, 2012 3:05 pm

    Great info Corrie! I couldn’t have said it better myself!

  3. Norma permalink
    March 29, 2012 3:30 pm

    Excellent article Corrie. There are some very good tips that every artist should think about.

  4. SunAtNight permalink
    March 29, 2012 4:08 pm

    Fantastic! Thanks for writing this.

  5. abigail157 permalink
    March 29, 2012 4:29 pm

    All of that sounds great, Corrie, but I still would like to know why we can’t re-submit declined cards? Just asking.
    Gail Pepin

    • March 29, 2012 4:46 pm

      Why would you want to resubmit a declined card, Gail? If GCU declined it once, why would they turn around and accept the same card at another time?

      Corrie

      • March 30, 2012 7:57 am

        Because it is easier to replace the image than go through everything from scatch, especially if it has been a while since submission.

  6. March 30, 2012 8:24 am

    Your new image still needs to be reviewed and approved, doesn’t it?

    Corrie

  7. Janet Lee Designs permalink
    March 31, 2012 6:01 pm

    Thank You Corrie..Very Helpful info. as always!
    Janet Lee

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