It was a pretty cool moment last week when I went to the post office last week and mailed my first round of pitches to different comic companies in an effort to find a publisher for the first Retros collection. I am proud of what I sent, although I am keeping my expectations realistic.
I researched a ton of companies and identified twelve that might be a good fit. It’s important to read submission guidelines carefully as each publisher is different with not only what they publish, but also what they want to see in a pitch. There are some publishers who flat-out don’t publish superhero comics, so those are out, for example. It won’t take long to send the book out to each of the publishers I identified since there are only a handful. I remain optimistic, but I also know that there is a finite amount of avenue I can pursue in this.
So, what goes into a pitch? What on earth am I sending to these publishers? Each publisher is different, some want an author bio, some don’t. Some want to see five pages of the story, some want to see ten. One publisher wants to know how old I am. I am not sure if they really care that I’m 41, but it might be a test in a way to see if I thoroughly read their guidelines.
For the most part, publishers want to know a few things:
-what the book is about
-who the intended audience is
Describing my work has never been easy for me, so it took a lot of revisions to concisely summarize The Retros. Identifying the target audience has also been a challenge for me. It’s easy to say that the book is for everyone, but no book is appealing to everyone. It’s also easy to state the book is for kids since it’s bright, colorful, funny (I hope) and there isn’t any swearing in it, but the book doesn’t stray from issues of racism and has GLBTQ characters. Hmm, this might be a good book for kids after all. Diversity and representation is a big part of what I want The Retros to be and I know I want my kids to read about characters like that.
At any rate, it took a couple months to put this pitch together and I am pretty happy with what I am sending out. I also have to thank my friends Zander, Antony and Ryan for their input, editing and advice while I worked on this. I looked at a few other pitches other cartoonists posted online for guidance, and I thought I’d upload my pitch here. Personally I think stuff like this is interesting and hopefully you will as well.
I created this pitch using Google Slides and then converted it into both a PDF format and a Powerpoint demonstration so I have multiple formats to send out. Some publishers want a pitch mailed, some want a link, some want an email with an attachment, so I think I have my bases covered. Google Slides makes it easy to edit this thing on the fly as some publishers want different things in a pitch and I can add in and take out pages as needed, depending on what the editor wants to see.
First up, the title page with my contact info (which I edited for this post). These first pages summarize what the story and series is about, the intended audience and other, quick-to-the-point items. I wanted to provide a lot of art in this pitch because I think it makes it more interesting to look at, but I also think the more someone sees of the book the more they will know what it’s about…for better or worse.
The next part of the pitch is showcasing the characters. I highlight the five members of the team and some of the villains as well.
Each publisher wants to see a different number of pages in the pitch. Some want twenty, some only want five. I mentioned Google Slides makes editing this part pretty easy as I can simply customize this section depending the publisher’s submission guidelines. This next part contains the first twenty pages of the book. I like sending in as many pages as I can as I think the more someone reads of the book the more they get what I am trying to do. Five pages doesn’t cover enough of the series, I think. This is another reason I have included so much art in the pitch. If a publisher only wants five pages, I can sneak in a few more panels here and there to really show what the series and book is about.
Finally, we wrap things up with some info on what the end of the book is about, social media stuff and my contact info once more.
So, that’s my pitch. I am not sure if this is a successful pitch, however. If a publisher picks it up, sure, then it’s successful. But from another perspective, pitches are hard and I think these pages nail what the series is about, so in that sense it is successful.
I hope this was interesting to the non-comic people who read my blog, and helpful to other cartoonists who are trying to figure out this part of the process.