“Getting starting” page.
That statement is being repeated here for two reasons: Part One of this two-part column was published almost two months ago, and because the quote bears repeating.
In this paragraph Diamond tells you exactly what to do: Make a good first impression!
They also tell you how to do that: ‘A Complete, professional submissions package.’
See, Diamond is being helpful.
So, what makes ‘A Complete, professional submissions package.’ Even that is right on the Diamond website:
To familiarize Diamond with your product and company, you should send us a submissions package which includes the following:
- Your Proposed Terms of Sale
- Product Samples (Comic & Non-Comic)
- Product Information (Comic & Non-Comic)
- Promotional Artwork
- Press Releases
- Contact Information
So, this is all you need to know, right? Follow the guidelines on the websites, give them what they ask for, throw it into an envelope and mail it in. All will be good and you only have to sit back and wait for Diamond’s call, right?
Not exactly. Give them what they want, yes. But, as covered in the previous column, even if you give them exactly what they want, a poor presentation can kill any potential deal.
Masterpiece Comics was picked up for distribution on the strength of the presentation of our submissions package. It gave Diamond what they wanted to see . . . And more.
What you need to do is make a great presentation that will sell Diamond on your title(s) since you will not be pitching the title(s) in person. Presentation is key and the make or break point as to whether you will make that lasting first impression.
Making a great presentation can also show Diamond that you actually care about the title(s) and have gone the extra mile to showcase your work. If you can show through your presentation that this is not just a comic and that you are emotionally invested in it that will make you stand out even more.
And make no mistake, with sending in your submissions package, you want to stand out.
Start by studying Diamond’s website and what they want. Gather all the info needed and put it together. This is where you presentation will begin.
What They Want:
Cover Letter: Though Diamond does not specify that they want a cover letter you should always send one in. Keep it brief, at most two pages. The cover letter should tell who you are, what your title (s) are about and give all your contact info. Do not include any of the other information they request in your cover letter, but do tell them it is included in the package.
Proposed Terms of Sale, Production Information and Contact Information: Do not put all this info on one page. Each of these items should be on their own page, written clearly and concisely.
Product Samples: “Your submissions package should contain a complete copy of your first comic,” this is from Diamond’s website. This is self-explanatory. For a graphic novel that is longer than the average 22 page comic, send in the full graphic novel.
There are a couple of ways to do an excellent presentation. The easiest way is to photocopy your comic. However, you want to do more than just print out the pages on flimsy 20lbs copy paper. You want something that will make the art stand out.
Find a local copy shop – a Kinkos, OfficeMax or Staples – and have them print out the pages and cover on some high gloss paper that will make the art and colors shine. It may cost a little, but it will be worth it. At the same time, purchase a clear presentation folder. Use the folder to bind the artwork, thus making an acceptable showcase for the pages.
The other way to make an excellent presentation – but more costly and not as immediate – is to use a small-run printing service like Ka-Blam and get actual copies of the comic made. This will let Diamond see exactly how the finished product will look.
Promotional Artwork: Make sure to have stunning promotional artwork – and not just a poster version of your cover. A good idea is to have an epic poster-type piece and three or four character pieces. Get these printed up on high gloss paper, or if you use Ka-Blam, have them print the pieces for you.
Press Releases: You’d better shine in the press release. Create a stunning press release, with great copy while utilizing your existing artwork.
As with the Product Samples, and Promotional Artwork, print your press release up on gloss paper, or have a service like Ka-Blam print it for you.
Now, all the info they require is gathered, but you can do a little better than that.
Company Bio: Include a brief one-page bio on your company. In this bio include your mission statement and state your goals.
. . . And More
Creator Bios: Include brief bios on each creator involved. Do not overdo it. Keep each bio to one to three paragraphs.
Business Plan: Include a brief, condensed version of your business plan, no longer than three pages. Only hit the high points and keep it to what Diamond needs to know. This can let Diamond see how serious you are.
Promotional Plan: As with the business plan, include your promotional plan and detail how you plan to promote to retailers and readers.
These little extras can go a long way in helping you. It can show that you are willing to go the extra mile. The bios can give it the personal touch. The brief business and promotional plans will show Diamond you have thought things through.
Now that you are ready to put your package together into a stunning presentation, you will need the following items:
- 10 x 13 Black or Red Envelope – Use black or red or some colored envelope as it will stand out more than a manila or white envelope.
- Black or Red Two Sleeve Folders
- Three Clear Presentation Folders
- White Full Page Envelope Label
All of these items can be found in any office supply store. Don’t worry about getting more than you need. No doubt you will use all of these in the future while promoting your title(s).
Gather all the materials together and following these guidelines:
Step One: Place your Cover Letter, Proposed Terms of Sale, Production Information and Contact Information sheet in the left sleeve of your folder.
Place your Press Release, Company and Creator Bios in the right sleeve of your folder.
Do not bind these in any way.
Place them in this order so when the folder is opened the first thing they see are your Cover Letter and Press Release. From there they can find the rest of the info nice and easy.
Step Two: Time for the sample copy of the book. If you are sending in a photocopy version, bind it in one of the clear presentation folders for a proper prese
ntation. If you have a printed copy, bag and board it.
Step Three: Take your promotional artwork and bind them in one of the clear folders.
Step Four: Use the third clear folder and place your Business Plan and Promotional Plan in the folder.
Step Five: Place all these in the following order: Black or Red Folder, sample copy, promotional artwork, business and promotional plan.
Step Six: Print out Diamond’s address and your return address using the full-page mailing label, and put the label on the envelope.
These labels are large enough that you can even place artwork on the label. The best idea is to place the cover of the title you are submitting in the bottom left hand corner of the label so it doesn’t interfere with the mailing address.
Step Seven: Place materials in the envelope and you are ready to mail. Typically mail the package first class mail. That way the post office delivers it directly, or it gets put into a mail box or post office box. You really do not want UPS or FedEx leaving your package outside the door if it is delivered after office hours. You can request delivery confirmation, but never request the package to be signed for. Diamond will not – nor will any publisher – sign for unsolicited submissions.
Keep in mind that these are only guidelines as to one way to create a good submission package and an excellent presentation. There are no guarantees that if you do this (or something even better) that Diamond will accept your title (s).
I can only showcase what worked for Masterpiece Comics.
Hopefully, whatever presentation you do put together will get you what you want – the call from Diamond. Maybe Diamond will even list your title in Previews as ‘Certified Cool.’
Let say that you create the ultimate “complete, professional submissions package,” but due to any number of reasons (including the current economy and state of the comic book industry) you find that they pass on your submission, now what?
That is the Burning Question I will answer in next time.