In order to market your work, you need to know what you're getting into and who you're competing against. Make sure you carefully research the following:
✓ The market you're aiming for: Where you want your cartoon to be picked up can help you decide what type of product to pitch. Certain types of cartoons only appear in certain media. Comic strips are marketed to newspapers and Web sites, editorial cartoons to newspapers for their editorial pages, and gag panel cartoons can be marketed to magazines like The New Yorker.
✓ Your competition: Remember that your local newspaper probably doesn't carry all the strips available on the market, so you may have to search the Internet to get a good idea of all the comic strips out there to see who you're going up against.
Looking at what's in the market currently also gives you an idea of what's not out there. If you've got a great idea for a comic strip and you see that nothing is out there to compete against, then the syndicates may be interested in filling a hole in the market with your feature. However, if your cartoon is about a lazy, sarcastic cat that eats spaghetti and has a dimwitted sidekick dog, by doing the research you can see there may not be a market for your work because a similar cartoon already exists.
On the flip side however, syndicates tend to do the same thing that TV programmers do; they market "new" products that are very similar to programs with a proven track record. How many comic strips feature a family and a dog or a cat? How many comic strips have you seen over the years that have kids as the main characters? How about talking animals? Syndicates may reject your idea if it's too cutting edge because they're looking for something more conventional. The bottom line is to try and create something that appeals to you that's also marketable, and if that sounds easy, rest assured that it's not.
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