Thursday, May 01, 2008

Simultaneous Submissions

Welcome to the Mike Lynch College of Gag Cartoon Knowledge. Spit your gum out. Sit up. Get inky.

Today's question about magazine cartoons:

Should you submit the same cartoons to the same markets all at once?

It's tempting ...!

I always send my submissions, wait for 30 days and if I receive a rejection, send on those cartoons to another market. If I don't get a response from the editor after a month, I will still mail the cartoons to other markets.

That's right. I don't wait on an editor to answer.

If someone wanted to buy my stuff, they would get back to me within a month. It sounds sensible. But even the best laid plans don't work.

For instance, here is something that happened to me one time, just a few years ago:

A major market called me (GOOD HOUSEKEEPING), wanting to buy a cartoon. Hooray! That's GREAT NEWS! I had not cracked that market yet. Sweet!

Only one problem: I had just sold the exact same cartoon a few days before to a rival mag, FIRST FOR WOMEN.

Now, this is no good. Magazines do not want to buy the same cartoon. When you sell a cartoon, they usually want what's called first-time rights; exclusive rights to publish your original never-before-seen cartoon.

I knew, even as I was talking this editor (who is not longer there), that this was all wrong. She COULDN'T have just gotten my submission batch. I quickly looked at my Excel spreadsheet of what cartoons get mailed when to what markets. I can search by a word in the gag line or description or by the individual cartoon number that I give each cartoon.

I had mailed it to FIRST five weeks ago.

That same cartoon was mailed to GOOD HOUSEKEEPING some three or four months ago.

When I told the editor that she was looking at a batch I mailed several months ago, she corrected me, arguing that I was wrong because she just got it on her desk that day.

Oh, great. Now an editor's angry at me and thinks I'm a liar.

I told her that GH could buy secondary rights if they wanted.

Well, of course they don't want cartoony leftovers. No sale!

Not only no sale, I now had a peeved, suspicious editor who just hung up.

Well, that's not my fault.

If you are sending magazine cartoons out, then waiting a month is sufficient. And the editor was wrong to blame me for her taking so long to look through her piles of submissions. Does that sound judgmental? Yes, it is.

Point being that if you send out the same batch simultaneously to several markets at once, this could happen pretty much all the time. While my method isn't without its flaws, it's been the one that works for me.

Resolved: Cartooning is not for the Caspar Milquetoasts of this world!

Hat tip to cartoonist Gary Barker for suggesting the topic.

Above: drawing of aforementioned Caspar Milquetoast, the Timid Soul, by H.T. Webster.

1 comment:

BarkerBitesBack said...

Thanks Mike, that's really helpful and it's nice to know that it's probably a bit of a tricky topic for everyone and not just me.

Gary Barker