Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cartoon Sales Batting Average

Yes, well, it's rather mean, but shopping is all part of a woman's world. I guess that's why Woman's World purchased the above scratchy, snarky cartoon. I really don't like a mean cartoon, unless it's clever -- and I thought there were maybe 9 other cartoons in my batch of 10 that were better than this, the editors thought different.

When a cartoonist wrote me, asking me to critique his work, I emailed back:

I think you should do what you think is funny, and concentrate on that. I've been drawing cartoons for years now and still have no idea what cartoons will sell and what won't sell, so I never feel right criticizing anyone. I think the most important thing is to be able to produce 10-15 finished professional cartoons a week, every week.

For instance, out of all the cartoons I drew during the week of October 22, 2002, only the one below sold. All of the others, despite being sent to a lot of markets, failed to sell. Some weeks are like that.

October 2002 was pretty much like any other month: I drew 40 cartoons, an average of 10 a week. I sold 6 of the 40 cartoons. What is that? A 25 percent success rate, right? (I'm a picture person, not a math person.)

[MATH UPDATE: Nope. It's 15%. My mistake. Thanks as ever to my Dad, Professor Lynch, for e-mailing me, letting me know my goof up. I was wrong. I guess I was just in wishful-percentage-land.]In a conversation with my doctor last week, she told me that John Updike wanted to be a cartoonist. She tells me she read this interview with him. Updike pointed out that a cartoonist has to think up 30 ideas a week before selling one. But a novelist only has to have one idea every 2 years. Oooookay. I have no idea if Updike wanted to be a cartoonist, but at least my batting average is better than that one out of 30 figure. I don't know where that figure came from. (By the way, I'm feeling fine.)

I always heard that if you sell one or two cartoons out of a batch of 10, then that's considered a success for a magazine cartoonist. I don't remember where I heard that, but it works out that way. In a good month, maybe three cartoons. Not always the cartoons I want to sell are the ones that do sell.

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