Susanna McLeod, Syndication Not Working? Other Ways to See Your 'Toon in Print

May 4, 2007

    Let's think about it. Syndication is pretty tough to get. The big syndicates receive thousands of comics submissions a year and a lot of them are pretty good. They only publish a handful of new cartoons each year. You've done your best, your comic is ready. The humour is there, the lines are perfect. But your collection of form rejection letters is growing by the week. Chances are slim, no matter how good your work is. But don't despair just yet - there are other places to submit your'toons for possible publication.

    Test your local market - local newspapers, both weekly and dailies. Weekend magazine sections, local magazines, tourist pamphlets and restaurant guides. Send a sampling of your best work that may be suited to their needs. Smaller publishers occasionally look for local talent to add flavour to their pages.

    While magazines aren't the big market they used to be, many still need a cartoon or two per issue. Consumer magazines, women's and trade publications pay for comics, but the pay may vary from a copy of their magazine to a small cheque. Focus your humour to their niche and send in a sampling of six to ten cartoons. Be sure to enclose an SASE for reply and return of your comics.

     Advertise yourself as a humourous illustrator. Prepare a postcard, brochure or flyer with a short bio and a small grouping of cartoons. Mail your item to advertising agencies, book and magazine publishers, greeting card companies, event promoters, anywhere that may use humourous illustrations. Some of these companies, such as Andrews and McMeel, also create lines of mugs, t-shirts, gift books and gift items from unique art. While you await responses (hopefully positive), prepare a portfolio to show more of your work to potential customers.

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    Put together a collection of cartoons or, or if you are more interested in writing, a selection of verses or thoughts, to send to greeting card companies. The greeting card market is huge for freelance writers, artists and cartoonists, with thousands of new cards issued each year. The e-card market may also be open to freelance cartoonists. Greeting card companies generally ask for a selection of 10 to 12 illustrations to examine at a time.

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    Children's book publishers are always on the hunt for fresh, new art. Many are open to receiving submissions of illustrations to have on file. Your artistic style could complement a writer's style to a "T". Look under "Illustrator's Guidelines" or "Writer's Guidelines" for exact submission details.

When syndication is just not happening, try your pen at other avenues. Who knows - your cartoons and sense of humour might be a big success in a different market. Have you really got anything to lose by trying?

General Tips:
    Look up guidelines on the Internet or in books such as "Writer's Market," "Artist's and Graphic Designer's Market" or "Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market".

     Try to find the editor's name to address your submission to at newspapers and magazines. Otherwise, try addressing your submission to "Comics Editor".

     Always send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply.

    Attach your name, address and telephone/email to the back of every cartoon or verse card. Keep a record of which cartoons you sent, where you sent them, and the date.

     Make sure your cartoons and your accompanying letter look professional. Clean and unsmudged art, (preferably copies, because bad things can happen to originals), your letter short, to the point, and without grammar and spelling errors.

    Expect to wait weeks or months for a response.

    Continue to create cartoons and illustrations while you wait for responses, and send them out to new markets.

Think positive!  I'm pulling for you!

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© Susanna McLeod 2007
TheCartoonists.ca