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Nuts and Bolts: Note to Reviewer

October 3, 2012
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We all know that during the card creation process, there are two editable fields to be filled in at the artist’s discretion – Artist’s Notes and Note to Reviewer. We’ve talked about how you should be using your Artist’s Notes field on other occasions (check this category for previous posts). Today, we’re going to discuss Note to Reviewer.

This field isn’t seen by customers. It’s seen only by the GCU reviewers who screen each and every card. It’s also not editable after a card has been submitted. If your card has been declined or returned for edits, you’ll need to communicate directly with the review team (and don’t forget to include the card’s PID# in the subject line).

Adding a Note to Reviewer can save you time, energy, the frustration of having a card returned or declined, and also help your cards get in quicker – all excellent reasons to use this field.

Why should you bother? Because the easier we make the reviewers’ job, the quicker they can get through the hundreds and sometimes thousands of cards submitted each day. That means less aggravating returns/declines for you, and less waiting time for everybody.

When To Use the Notes to Reviewer

Material Not Your Own: Some artists use commercially available clip art or photographs licensed for commercial use in their card designs. There’s nothing wrong with that provided you have proper permission. See Doreen Erhardt’s excellent Credit Where Credit Is Due post for some great tips. If you are using art/graphics/photos that are not your own creation, be sure to include in the Reviewer’s notes the URL of the source of the material (the site you obtained the art/photo). Include the URL for the license/permission/TOU as well, especially if it’s not immediately obvious on the site. Otherwise, your card will likely be declined on copyright issues.

Public Spaces, Artworks, Etc: Be aware that not every iconic building, statue, artwork, architectural marvel, public space, etc.  is free to photograph and use commercially. Some public works and sites remain under copyright. Do your research. If you find the subject of your photograph is free to use in commercial projects, include that information in the Note to Reviewer, giving the URL where the licensing/permission information was obtained.

Model Release: If you’ve taken a photograph and the person’s face is visible and recognizable, and you want to use that photo on a card, the reviewer may very well return the submitted card to you asking for a copy of the model release you should have obtained. If this is a public domain photo, put the link to the license/TOU in the Notes to Reviewer beforehand to prove this photo is okay for commercial use. If the photo is a family member, include that information in the notes. It doesn’t matter if the subject of the photo is your grandmother rockin’ it in the 60s at Woodstock- let the reviewers know because otherwise, your card may be returned/declined.

Quotes: Although some authors have been dead a long time, their works may still be trademarked or under copyright (for example, Emily Dickenson’s works remain under copyright to Harvard College). If you aren’t sure if the work you’re quoting is in the public domain or not, do your research. Then include a link to wherever you verified the copyright information in your Note to Reviewer. For example, the King James Bible is in the public domain. Other translations may or may not be under copyright. Check if the translation your want to use is public domain or not. This includes unique phrases as well (see the GCU Wiki for more details). Include a link to the source of permission/TOU/proof of public domain status or your card may be declined for copyright reasons.

Breaking the Rules: This especially applies to photographers. Example – if the picture you’ve taken deliberately includes out of focus elements as part of your artistic style (such as bokeh or other technique), or perhaps you’ve played with the perspective, be sure to include that information in the Notes to Reviewer to avoid a decline. Remember, before you can break the rules, you have to understand them. Ensure you have sufficient experience first. Simply taking a bad picture and trying to excuse it by claiming “artistic license” isn’t going to get you very far.

No Fitting Category: Suppose you make a card and discover there’s no specific category for it. In the Notes to Reviewers, state you’re putting the card in X category because Y doesn’t exist. This helps reviewers, and in turn, helps you. You’ll also want to say something if you’re designing a card for an unrepresented holiday, occasion or event.

These are not the only circumstances in which you should be using the Note to Reviewer. In general, if you feel your card may be returned/declined (you should have already familiarized yourself with the GCU Wiki and Submission Guidelines), you may want to argue your case in the Note to Reviewer BEFORE you submit the card. Once a card is submitted and returned/declined, you’ll have to exchange emails, and that will take even more time.

And as always, be courteous. Reviewers do their job to the best of their ability. While it’s annoying to have a card declined or returned, getting angry won’t solve the problem. The best way to avoid aggravation is to use the Note to Reviewer when circumstances require more information on your part.

Edited to add: Per the Card Review Team – “After any requested edits, or after you have sent us an email in regard to a reviewer request for more information, please be sure to resubmit your card. It will then go back to the reviewer that is working on your card. If you do not hit resubmit the card does not return to the reviewer and we may not know that any further action is necessary.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. SunAtNight permalink
    October 3, 2012 6:51 pm

    Good info!

  2. Laura J. Holman permalink
    October 4, 2012 12:55 am

    Great info! I use that space to also always thank the reviewer for his or her time in reviewing my cards. And when I get a decline, I respond to the email so there’s a thread with card info on it. I find the reviewers incredibly helpful and pleasant.

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