(photo from The National Library of Scotland)
So last week we talked about submission letters from people who could both write and draw. But what if you can only do one of those things? What if your skills are writerly or artistly only? Is there no hope for you?
Do not give up, brave writers and artists! We accept all sorts of submissions!
So you’ve got a script! The first thing to know here is, don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. If you’re writing a script about squids, including their history and the science behind their behavior, that’s great! It’s also great if you are like, ‘my good friend Hypothetical Maris Wicks also enjoys squids, and we’ve been talking about doing this project together the entire time I’ve been writing it, it’s her and me together or else we’re going with another publisher.’ In that case, just write a letter together, and it should look like one of last week’s letters, except with two sets of credentials and signatures.
However! Unless you’ve developed the project with an illustrator, writers don’t need to recruit an artist for your project before you submit your script to us. There are some publishers that only take projects that have the complete creative team already in place, but First Second isn’t one of them. Feel free to just submit your graphic novel script to us and (if we accept it) let us find the artist for you. We know people, we swear. Many of them like drawing graphic novels, especially if we offer them money in return.
So if you’re a writer sending us a submission, it should include:
– A pitch letter explaining who you are and what you’re submitting to us — a script rather than words and pictures
– A book summary
– Copies of your previous writing, so we can get a sense of your style
– A chapter or three of your script would be good too
If you were Hypothetical Mary Roach, author of Packing for Mars, and you were inspired to write a graphic novel about undersea exploration (and squids!), your submission letter might look like this:
Dear First Second Editor, Whose Name I Know Because I Looked At Your Website Before Submitting This,
My name is Hypothetical Mary Roach; I’m the author of Packing for Mars, and a number of other narrative non-fiction titles. I recently read your nonfiction graphic novel Feynman and got inspired about my upcoming book on the subject of life in the ocean, focusing on the giant squid. I’ve only written prose nonfiction before, but I think that there’s so much of a visual aspect of exploring life undersea that a graphic novel could be a really amazing format for this upcoming book.
I’ve projected that this book would be around 300 pages long, covering the topics of the prehistoric ocean, bioluminescence, coral reefs, [AND SOME OTHER OCEAN-RELATED TOPICS POSSIBLY INCLUDING SHARKS ETC.].
I’ve included a more complete outline of this book, the first three sample chapters, and a first attempt at translating the first chapter of prose nonfiction into a comics script format. I’d love to work with you going forward on the script format here to make this the easiest transition possible!
I’m very excited about the possibility of doing this nonfiction project as a graphic novel; I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
– Hypothetical Mary Roach
(Just FYI, we would totally publish this book, as it would be awesome.)
If you’re a writer who has written graphic novels before, the submission letter is much the same — you just don’t have to explain that you’re excited about doing a graphic novel for the first time and that you’ll work hard to figure out how to format your script. Just be like, ‘I’m Hypothetical Grant Morrison, I totally know how to write comics, I swear.’
If you’re an artist who is hoping to illustrate someone else’s work, things are a bit tougher for you, because you’re not submitting a project, you’re submitting yourself. But there is hope — five of the graphic novels that we published last year had an author/illustrator team, so we are definitely looking for people who can draw and are interested in illustrating someone else’s scripts.
So if you’re an artist sending us your work to keep on file in case we have (or will have) a script for you, you should send:
– A pitch letter with a link to your online portfolio
– An explanation of what your drawing style is, and if you have different styles
– Copies of any previous books you’ve illustrated
If you were Hypothetical Tyler Crook, the illustrator of Petrograd and BPRD, you might send us a submission letter like this.
Dear First Second Person Whose Name I Know Because We Met at SDCC,
It was good to meet you at SDCC!
I wanted to send you a link to my work; my schedule is pretty full right now with BPRD, but if any graphic novels come up that you’re looking for an illustrator on, I’d love to be considered for projects in 2013.
As you can see from my portfolio, I have particular expertise in drawing comics for readers who are puppies and kittens. I think my work has a particular attraction for the young animal reader — they find my watercolor pages so delicious!
I’ve enclosed copies of Petrograd and the latest issue of BPRD, which I think displays a particular facility with kitten drawings. I hope you enjoy them!
– Hypothetical Tyler Crook
Then! If you are an illustrator who is hoping to get work for us, whenever you do something particularly cool (be it an excellent short comic that you’ve posted online or an anthology that you’ve participated in or a graphic novel that you’ve published), you should send us a reminder e-mail that you exist and have done something cool. Though — not on a more than quarterly basis, we don’t really need to hear from you more frequently even if you do something cool every week.
(Are there more options I should cover? Let me know.)
* These submission letters are completely faked; neither of these creators has submitted work to us.