Much of the reason we started Panel Bound was to not only get a chance to talk with some of our favorite comic creators, but also to get some kind of insight into the process of taking a comic through development-all the way from creation to publishing. With our friends and readers wrapping up projects or finishing comic pitches, the next steps is the key to starting a career as a comic creator. Even though sending pitches to publishers can seem as simple as attaching a few documents to an email, the reality is that, it is much more complex than that. Every submissions editor has a different style that he or she is looking for. Some start by checking out sequential art first, while others focus on the content and quality of intro letters. While all this can seem daunting, there are a few steps that you can take to guarantee that your work will, at least, avoid the classic pitfalls of the submission process.
I spent much of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con in panels dedicated to the art of pitching as well as on the show floor speaking with editors and publishers about their specific submission guidelines. In case you couldn’t make it to SDCC this year, here are several things to think about before sending that pitch out.
Treat Your Pitch Like A Job Application
I spoke to several editors who told me the surefire way to getting your pitch tossed out is your introduction. The first step to any successful pitch is crafting a professional and personal introduction or cover letter. As it would be when applying for a job, the biggest mistake you could make is having spelling and grammar mistakes. This applies double for potential comic writers. If you cannot write a cover letter correctly, how could an editor have faith that your comic writing would be any better? Also, make sure that you, in fact, send an actual introduction. Just don’t send an email that says, “Here is my pitch for _____. Thanks.” Show that you are capable of being professional.
Know Who You Are Pitching To
As it was the above advice, this tip is all about being professional. A publisher wants to know why your book would be good for their specific imprint. At the Archaia pitch panel this year, this point was stressed several times. If your comic is about super powers make sure you are pitching to a publisher that prints those types of books. In your cover letter, explain to the editors why your title fits at their publishing house. Give them a reason to take a look at your pitch. Do some research about the places your are sending submissions to. Give examples of books you are familiar with and why your comic is similar or within the same vein.
Send In Only Your Best Work
This may seem obvious, but when you are sending out samples of sequential art, make sure that it is the best possible product available. Editors know that the art which accompanies your pitch will be the best that you as a creator will produce for this book. You have had months and years to work on these specific pages, so of course they will be phenomenal. If your book is picked up however, you will be looking at deadlines and you won’t have the same amount of time to perfect your art. Your pitches sequential art will most likely be what gets an editor to go back and flip through your script and stories overview.
Make Connections First, Then Start Pitching
At every panel I went to regarding working in the comic industry, at least one panelist would have an anecdote about having a heavy pitch binder shoved in their face on a very busy convention floor. Editors and publishers are unbelievably swamped at conventions and rarely have time to look at your submission packet on the spot. Instead, get a name and email address and follow up later in the week.
Take It Easy
Publishing houses literally receive hundreds of submissions a month. Chances are, your pitch won’t be looked at until at least a month down the road. The worst possible thing you could do as a creator is hound a submission editor about your project. You have to understand that it will take time and constantly asking an editor about your submission can quickly cast you and your work in a terrible light. Give it time and know that, eventually your work will get in front of a publisher.