Friday, October 05, 2007

What to Do When You Sell a Magazine Cartoon

It's great when you get a sale from a magazine. There might be a note in the mail (sometimes in the same SASE you sent to them), you might get an email, you might get a phone call. I'm putting these modes of communication in descending order of probability. Most sales I've gotten I've either learned about via regular mail or email. I receive more email in the past 5-6 years, now that I'm in more editors' Rolodexes.

So, those silly little drawings with the captions under them that you sweated over and mailed out -- one of them sold!

OK, so, congratulations! Now what?

Now, you have to get your cartoon to them and get paid.

Sometimes, the magazine may have all ready pulled a copy of the cartoon from your batch and they will print from that. Other times, you'll get it back with a note that they want to buy it. Sometimes, they'll ask you to redraw it. For instance, the Wall Street Journal always wants my cartoon to be drawn square and in a bold line -- which tells you right there I'm a wimpy line/horizontal kinda guy.

Most magazines do not have size restrictions. Only one (Playboy) tells their clients how many picas high, how many picas wide a cartoon should be. I remembered "picas" from journalism class. I had to call the cartoon editor and ask for a translation into inches. It was no problem. (Most of the time when I call an editor with a question about a sale, they're happy to help.)

Anyway, with most mags, like the old wheeze goes: size doesn't matter. More than half of the editors have little or no opinion about whether you should just sell the cartoon that they say, or draw a "finish" of that same cartoon.

Back in the day -- the 1950s & 60s, when cartoonists would go in person, from magazine to magazine, every Wednesday, doing the "rounds" -- he would drop off roughs at the mags. If one of them sold, he would draw a finish.

I don't mail out roughs. What you see is what you get. There is more than one mag that tends to go through cartoon editors every 18 months, so I always try to do my best job, thinking that there may be someone who is looking at these cartoons and they do not know who I am. So, no faking a sketchy looking drawing.

If the editor has provided contact information, then I contact the editor (I usually make a phone call, especially if I don't know the editor) to (a) say thanks for the buy and (b) ask if I can email the cartoon. I usually email a 300dpi JPEG.

Most publications will want you to invoice them. An invoice is a bill and it doesn't matter what it looks like, so long as it has information I tell you about in my Cartoon Invoices blog entry from June!


Spikey said...

"like the old wheeze goes: size doesn't matter"

Well, it's nice to know that there's something in life about which that's true.

Thanks for another informative post,in particular the part about the invoice. Just curious, have you ever had a magazine object to your Terms Of Sale?

Mark Anderson said...

Wow! You've been knockin' 'em out of the park lately my friend. This is great stuff on top of great stuff.

Seriously, it's amazing how much info is out there now for budding cartoonists. I remember asking an editor early on what the standard gag cartoon dimensions were. Ugh...