Selling to the syndicates

You may decide to skip the small town papers and go right for the national market, or you may approach the national market after you've built up your portfolio locally. To get your work widely published, you need to be syndicated. Syndication is the distribution of your work to paying customers throughout the country. A syndicate company agrees to distribute and sell your work in return for a share in the money.

The United States has about a dozen major syndicates, and most of them handle comic strips, along with columns and other specialty features. Some of the major syndicates are United Media, Universal Press, Creators, Scripps Howard News Service, King Features, Tribune Media, and the Washington Post Writers Group. You can do a quick Internet search to locate each company's Web site, which contains more information about them, as well as the current comics that each is currently promoting.

Because syndicates are in the business of selling comics to subscribing publications, they're always willing to look at new comic features for possible syndication. It's the ultimate dream of many cartoonists to get syndicated throughout the world and get paid truckloads of cash, not to mention becoming famous. But it's also very difficult to achieve, particularly these days, as circulation numbers drop and newspapers and magazines cut back on the amount of outside material they purchase.

Many syndicates face difficulties finding clients for cartoonists they already represent, never mind taking on new clients. However, you never know if your product is the right thing at the right time unless you try over and over again. Getting through the syndicate maze requires a bit of know-how, which I provide in the next sections.

For more information on how to contact a syndicate, check out Chapter 18.

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