Why Don’t Publishers Give Brand New Writers a Chance?

Here’s a question I received about comic writers breaking in to the business:


Thanks for the advise… but this works only for people that can attend comic cons or similar in the states. What about aspiring writers that live in other countries and have no possibility to attend those events? I’m asking because I’ve read from many artists that were hired by sending samples, but that seems not to work for writers. In fact, the majority of the USA companies do not receive written submissions (if not packaged together with art). In fact, I consider this policy as unfair and discriminative.

Can you give some advice to this? Meaning, is there any other way to be considered than to socialize with the editors at cons? I understand reading samples takes a lot of time, but is it not part of the editor’s job to “discover” or attract new talents? (and by “new talents” I do not imply novelists, TV writers or any other writers that have entered other media and seem to be “offered” a gig writing comics, even if they haven’t done that before!). Thanks in advance for your answer and for your time.

Writers definitely have an uphill battle because, unlike an artist, it’s incredibly hard to take a quick look and see what a writer is capable of.

An editor’s job is to make sure their projects are taken care of by capable people who can deliver high quality professional work on time and, ideally, whose involvement with the project will help sell the work. Testing and nurturing new talent is generally low on their priority list compared to managing current ongoing projects. Trying new people is risky and difficult compared to using people who have a body of work and proof that they can hit their deadlines. I know it can be frustrating seeing writers plucked from other talent pools but if someone has writing work in other mediums (novels, TV, etc.) at least there’s proof they can tell stories, even if it’s not comic specific. Why should a publisher (a business) take a risk on using unknown/untested talent when they don’t have to? What’s the advantage?

If you had a choice between working with people you knew could do the work and others who might not and your job depended on making the right choice, I expect you’d choose the proven talent almost every single time. That’s not discrimination, it’s just common sense.

If I wanted to be a chef I wouldn’t just walk into a restaurant, tell people I could cook and expect them to take me seriously. I’d need to prove that I could be a chef by practicing my craft, slowly working my way up through the ranks until I had the skills and experience to give an employer confidence that I was the right person to be in charge of the kitchen.

The same goes for sports. People start with amateur teams, then intermural matches, single-A, double-A, triple-A and then, possibly, get their shot at the major leagues. You’re essentially asking why major league sports don’t randomly pluck people out of the crowd at a stadium to tryout for their team. Why should they? Why would they expect someone to be ready when they haven’t shown they can do it at all? Why hope for that one-in-a-million long shot amateur when they can work with capable people who are actively proving they can do the job?

The most consistent way to get an editor’s attention is by creating your own comics as a platform to show you can do the work instead of just sending incomplete sample concepts or scripts and expecting someone to take their time poring over it (and the hundreds of other submissions just like it) to see if it’s any good.

If you don’t have a body of work you need to create one and keep building. If you’re not willing to put in the time to create quality stories on your own then how is anyone supposed to trust that you’ll suddenly be able to do it ‘on the job’?

There’s no open spot waiting for you. You have to earn it.

You need to prove you can write complete stories and deliver quality before people are going to pay you to do it for them. That’s the simple truth of it. It’s skill, passion, hard work, promotion and a bit of luck all working in tandem.

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12 Comments.

  1. on that same token, would you think that proof of prose writing ability would be used on that, or are they really only going to look at scripts of one form or another?

    • Comics are obviously going to be the best measuring stick, but having other writing available isn’t a bad thing. It really depends on the individual editor, so it’s hard for me to make a blanket statement one way or another how helpful prose writing would be.

  2. Another fine post, Jim!

  3. and you think every artist in the world just attract editor’s attention by creating comic stories??
    and what about if one talented artist have talent
    only in writing??
    must be necessary also artist
    i dont get that really
    i bielive many famous editors or artists because they are already famous and popular dont give rest for any other lower level artist that the true my friend in my opinion of of course

  4. Another great, informative post, Jim.

    I think having a writer who writes for other mediums can be great, because they sometimes come in with new ideas that someone that’s only done comics might not think of. But it still takes an understanding of how comics scripting works to make for a good comic writer. Pacing in comics vs. film has very specific differences, and you have to learn the ins and outs of the artform to make good comics. That’s probably why so may straight-to-film comic stories don’t exactly transfer well.

    I do wish there was a better concentration on expectations though. I would prefer when bringing in a new writer (or artist) that they get started on a limited series or storyline first, and maybe even have the whole thing completed, so we don’t get so many people who fall behind (often because their “real jobs” take over their attentions) or abandon mid-story because they didn’t really know what they were getting into as far as the workload. But that sort of thing makes more sense at a company that you don’t have to be part of a shared universe or multi-part crossovers.

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  7. We are Shot In The Comics…a comic book publishing company and are always looking for new artist. .being if your a writer, penciler, inker or a colorist…your talent is more important then your resume, we welcome unpublished artist and writters! Interested parties may contact us by email at mbaughman@shot inthedarkcomics.com or find me on Facebook…Mary Baughman. And the owner of the company Gene Tipton and his email is gtipton@shotinthedarkcomics.com! !!

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