Here Comes The Pitch – Part Four

Okay, I’ve covered quite a few different aspects of how I put together a pitch, from the purpose of a pitch, to summarizing your ideas and the different sections you can use to explain your concept. Above and beyond that information, I wanted to offer some other advice that didn’t quite fit anywhere else.

Comic Story Pitch DO’s

DO check and follow a publisher’s submission guidelines before following any advice I’ve given you. If they ask for specific things you’ll make it a lot easier for them (and they’ll see that you can follow instructions) if you give them what they’ve asked for.

DO explain the elements that make your story compelling, entertaining or unique. It’s okay for you to be inspired by other things, just make sure you have something new to add instead of offering a carbon copy of an existing story.

DO get people you trust to look over the pitch to help edit it for spelling, grammar and clarity. A fresh set of eyeballs checking things over can be invaluable.

DO credit everyone involved in the pitch: the artist(s), colorist(s), letterer, you name it. Everyone involved should have their contribution clearly noted. This isn’t just about your writing.

DO put your contact info on the header or footer of each page so the publisher has it even if the pages get separated.

DO send your pitch to a specific editor rather than “To Whom It May Concern”. Find books from a publisher that fit the kind of story you’re working on, check who the editor is and do your best to track down their contact information.

DO include a brief cover letter/email. Introduce yourself, mention any previous creative work or related experience you have and explain why you think the publisher would be a good fit for the pitch.

DO keep your emails to publishers simple, professional and direct. They’re not your friend (yet, who knows what will happen later on) and this isn’t a social call. They won’t sift through a rambling or confusing email waiting for it to get to the point.

DO hand over a pitch in person at a convention or social event if the opportunity presents itself, but keep it brief. Putting a name to a face can go a long way; just make sure you’re professional and polite. Read the social cues and try to pick a good moment. Try not to stress out about it (easier said than done, I know).

DO be open to adjusting your pitch if an editor wants revisions to the concept. Be open to their feedback/critique. If they want changes you’re uncomfortable with, walk away as politely as possible so you don’t leave a bad impression.

DO build polite social relationships with professionals in person or online. There is a strong social aspect to this industry and it’s important to be around it, just don’t expect people to involve you in every interaction just because you’re there. It can take a really long time, so try not to force it.

DO have an easy to remember email address and website so an editor can stay in touch. Even if they don’t pick up this pitch, having a way for them to easily find you can pay off down the road.

DO remember to be gracious even if your pitch is rejected. As difficult as it can be, thank them for their time and consideration.

DO buy and read more creator-owned comics. If this is what you want to get into, you need to stay current with what’s being released and support the industry if you want the industry to support you.

Comic Story Pitch DON’Ts

DON’T expect other professionals to look over your pitch if they’re not your friends (heck, probably not even then). They’re too busy working on their own projects and probably can’t help you get your work published anyways.

DON’T send your pitch randomly to every comic publisher you can find. Do your research and only choose companies who fit the work you’re putting together. The shotgun approach does not work and sending inappropriate pitches to publishers makes you look desperate and poorly informed.

DON’T use self deprecation as a way to try and get a response from a publisher (things like “I know you probably won’t answer this email, but…”). If they like the work, they’ll contact you. If not, that’s your problem not theirs.

DON’T use your cover letter as a way to explain your life story or how long you’ve wanted to work in comics. Pretty much everyone who works in the industry has been a “lifelong fan”. Just quickly introduce yourself and let them get to the pitch.

DON’T trash other people’s work to try and boost your own (“Since you guys already published [crappy comic] I’m sure my new concept will knock your socks off”). Keep your interactions positive.

DON’T exaggerate how long you’ve been working on a pitch. Telling an editor you’ve spent a decade developing your story or that this is your life’s work is a turn-off, not a selling feature. Remember, your first projects should be small and manageable, not grandiose.

DON’T include hype about sales/media potential in your pitch or cover letter. Even if you think you have the next Harry Potter meets Walking Dead by way of Scott Pilgrim, let the publisher decide its commercial potential.

DON’T spam an editor with multiple pitches at once. They won’t think you’re a story genius, they’ll just find it obnoxious and almost certainly trash them all. Send one at a time and wait for a response before sending another concept, and only if they agree to look at more.

DON’T spend a crazy amount on pitch artwork unless that amount of money is meaningless to you. Creator-owned comics generally make very little, so you don’t want to be starting the process deep in the hole. Team up with artists who are professional quality, but understand that this is a stepping stone to more work, not an instant big-time payout. I know finding those kinds of collaborators can be really tough, but that’s the ideal.

DON’T spend too much printing your pitch package if you’re sending/handing over a physical copy. Sharp print outs in a simple document protector is fine. Paper-clipped/stapled sheets in an envelope work too. You can print it as a sample comic or use fancy paper if you’d like, just don’t break the bank. The quality of work will make or break the pitch, not the printing of your pitch material.

DON’T expect a quick reply to your submission. Remember that looking at your pitch is not a priority for an editor. If you don’t hear from them for a couple months, send them a brief and pleasant email asking for an update. If you don’t hear anything at all a second time, you’re probably not going to make any headway with this pitch at that company.

DON’T phone a publisher about your pitch unless they specifically give you their phone contact and ask you to call. Even if they hand you a business card, ask them if it’s okay to call. A pestering random phone call comes across 10 times worse than a pestering email.

DON’T expect editors to help you get your work up to a professional level. If they give you feedback on a failed pitch that’s great, but if not don’t be surprised. They rarely have time to give in-depth critique on material they’re not interested in publishing.

DON’T expect that getting your first comic published is going to change your life or make you rich. Very few people make a really good living solely from comic work. Hold on to your day job and see how things go. Get into this industry because you love the medium and want to tell stories, not because you expect fame or riches.

…And that’s it! Four parts of info all about comic story pitching.

If you found this post helpful, feel free to let me know here (or on Twitter), share it with your friends and consider buying some of my comics or donating to my Patreon to show support for me teaching you how to steal my job. ;P

Leave a comment ?


  1. That’s a great resource. Thanks for putting it together.

    I’m getting ready for the NYCC 2012 and I probably would have forgotten to have a few copies of (a) pitch(es). I’ve been focusing on printing pages of finished pages. 🙂

    Thanks again.
    I got here from a retweet.
    Let me forward to others.

  2. Great article once again…full of some great tips!

    Something that i’m kinda hung up on though. If the submission guidelines ask for something specific, lets say 5 pgs of script, but your “scene” lasts 6 or 7. Would it be ok to send them that complete scene of 7 pages so they can get a full taste as opposed to abruptly ending it as to fit the guidelines?

    I don’t want to turn anyone off by not following the rules, but i don’t want to shortchange my story either.

    • If the 5 pages of script are intriguing enough they’ll almost certainly ask for more. Generally speaking I’d send just what they ask for. If the overall pitch and artwork doesn’t grab them, then 2 extra pages of script wouldn’t do it anyways.

  3. Is there any risk that a comic pitch (5 pages + cover, synopsis, & cover letter) as a PDF file ends up in a spam filter?

    One would think that if you’re following guidelines the publisher’s submission email box could withstand receiving an 8MB PDF file. Right?

  4. Thanks for this! It is very helpful and informative, and I will likely be referring back to this as I prep my creative team for our first pitch! Your tutorial has been very helpful!

  5. I recently decided to write my first comic and your series on writing and pitching has been immensely useful. Thanks for putting it together, it’s made the process much easier to understand and work through.

  6. Newb question: Once you get a greenlight, then what happens? What are the next steps?

    (If my question has already been answered elsewhere on this site, please provide a link. Thank you.)

  7. Excellent tutorial series. I have an opportunity with a publisher (very grateful) and need to write up the pitch for a screenplay they’ve already read and like very much. Publisher needs to see if I can adapt my style to writing a graphic novel. Totally get that. He’s busy; a new title (and potential series) is a risk; he doesn’t have time for hand-holding. I get it. I work/ed in Hollywood.

    What you’ve shared here, Mr. Zub, is extremely helpful. I would not know what to do otherwise. And this knowledge is what I needed to make this opportunity happen. I must provide one additional section of “proof” to the “pitch” — and that’s 5 to 6 sample pages of script. That’s what the real proof will be to convince him, as far as I can tell. He wants to know what I can “leave out.” As in, don’t say too much. Leaner narrative, I’m thinking. Allowing for visuals to tell the story.

    Any thoughts, if you have a moment, would be most appreciated!

    • Hi Kevin, thanks for the high praise. I don’t know the specifics of the project, but if you’re doing a sample of 5-6 pages to prove that it can work as a graphic novel, I’d recommend ending that sample section with something powerful and visual to make the best impression possible. Beyond that,unfortunately, I’m too busy with my own projects to help guide you one-on-one. You’ll have to take what advice I have posted and make the most of it. Good luck!

  8. Well Met Jim!

    Great info you’ve presented that has definitely helped me in the pursuit of my submitting quest. My question is simple. If the first 5 pages do not show the main characters involved in the story and it’s all set up, should I include character(s) sheet to better illustrate which ones I will be dealing with as the story progresses?

  9. Jim,

    I want to send all high quality .tif files for each page. But each .tif page is around 35 – 40MB of space. Ever try to send something and the attachments are too big for the email server? That’s my worry. For instance Image says it accepts “any size”, but can you verify that their servers actually do? haha.. I’m a newb!

    I don’t want to get rejected because my attachments were too big and they didn’t go through or something. I realize each publisher has different requirements, but still — What do you do for sizes/quality in pitches?

    Thank you for your time,

    • Don’t send high-quality TIFs, not at the initial pitch stage! Those files are far too large and even if you can get them sent via email, they’ll be a huge pain to download.

      Just send mid-range resolution JPGs or a low resolution PDF for your initial pitch. If Image or another publisher likes what they see they’ll request more and will set up a proper way for you to send them high resolution files.

      Even at lower resolutions, a publisher can tell if a submission has quality and is something they’re interested in publishing.

  10. Henry Williams


    I wanted to give you my long overdue kudos for the helpful advice! I sent pitches a year or so ago for a previous project I worked on, using your advice to make said pitch. Now I am on my second project, a miniseries I hope gets picked up! With your stellar advice, it’s guaranteed! 😎


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