How to Build a Pitch Packet
By: Akira Brown
Before we begin, it’s important to know what a pitch packet is. It has many names: pitch packet, comic pitch, (comic) proposal, but it all means the same thing: A story synopsis with sample artwork. This is a PDF of everything a publisher or an acquiring editor or even an agent needs to know in order to understand the story you want to develop with them. It’s also important to know why you have to make one. In broad summary, it’s your ticket in the door of getting that book deal you want. In detail it shows three things:
How compelling your story is
Your story is marketable with a clear audience
Your story will sell
So, now that you know the what and the why, now we get into the how of making a pitch packet. Note that while each publisher is different in how they want to be solicited to - and it’s important to check to see if/when they want to be solicited to - the formatting of a pitch is roughly the same. The tips I’m giving you are a foundational tool that you can use and adjust to meet the specific needs of any publisher.
The first step is to look through the publishers’ catalog and submissions page to see if your story is the right fit for them, but let’s say we’re past that and you know your story is a good fit. Now it’s time to create your pitch, using these eight sections:
About (the Creator)
It does not have to be in this particular order, but these are important things to have in your pitch when creating it.
About (the Creator / Team)
This is straightforward and simple. You want to let the reader know who you are and what other work you’ve done. This doesn’t have to be an extensive section. At most, it can be a quick paragraph with an icon of yourself just to show who you are. If you include your portfolio, embed the link and clearly state where the link is going.
Example: “For more information, feel free to follow the link to my Portfolio.”
This is a very important step in the process. The logline shows that you are capable of condensing your story into a 1-3 sentence hook that will catch the audience’s attention. This step might be one of the hardest steps, but it is a talent that will catch the eye of the person reading it.
Example: The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption. (Pulp Fiction - Movie)
Example: A quick repair at a huge corporate lab during a late night shift should not have sent Logan into a hellish landscape fraught with monsters, but it looks like Lady Luck decided to give him the middle finger. Logan would like to give one back. (Not Drunk Enough - Comic)
Okay so you can explain your story in one sentence, but can you explain it in a paragraph? Can you explain it in a way that it can be used as back matter for a book? While this isn’t specifically the summary that’d be on the back of the book, it will show that you’re thinking about how to market your story as effectively as possible. This is also enticing the reader (usually an editor) to want to know even more from logline to summary.
Example: The universe is full of life. Planets, stars, even black holes are sentient, living organisms, capable of thought and emotion like any other creature. Celestials move through the galaxies capable of unimaginable feats, ancient and god-like power their birthright, while mortals can only pray they do not catch the attention of such beings.
Laura “Leadfoot” is a young woman on a mission. Famous Celestials – including Jupiter and Mars – have vanished from the Sol System, and she feels it’s her duty to learn what happened to them.
On an unfamiliar planet and being hunted by two of the most powerful individuals on it – one a Black Hole, the other the King of the Criminal Underworld – Leadfoot seeks sanctuary with a strange group of people who work for a Witch. This Witch claims to be able to grant any wish – for the right price. (Backlash - Comic)
In the summary, or if you want to go all out and make a title page, here is also where you give technical details:
Estimated Page Count
Genre and Age Rating
Whether the book will be in color or black and white
It means comparable titles! While originality is important, having titles to compare yours to will show that you understand the market and what sells. It’s one thing to say “My title is a queer, mature, horror comic” but it’s another to say, “People that enjoyed the popular 2021 comic It Took Luke will also enjoy my queer, mature horror comic [insert title here].”
Here are a few things to note when you’re finding comp titles:
Is it in the same format? A movie sells a lot differently than a comic book and has a different marketing strategy so be conscious of the titles you choose.
Is it recent? Ideally it should be within the last 3-5 years. A lot changes over time and so does interest!
Is it the same genre? This is the majority of what makes them comparable titles.
Was your comp title successful? IIt doesn’t have to be a million dollar book deal, but it should have at least been on a few radars in the comics community.
Now this is the bulk of your pitch. Here’s where you tell your story beginning to end, spoilers included. This is also where many publishers deviate from each other. Most have a page limit when it comes to the outline so you have to be very particular about what you do and don’t share. It’s a balancing act of making sure you explain enough without overexplaining everything. Sometimes you’ll have ten pages to work with, sometimes you’ll only get one - it all depends on the publisher.
This one is pretty self explanatory. This is where your characters go! If you have art, place it here with their names and any relevant information. If you aren’t working with an artist and only have descriptions, make sure there is enough relevant information to create a mental visual.
Ideally, these pages are sequential (one after the other) and a portion of the comic you’re working on. It doesn’t have to be the beginning but it does have to show how the comic will look and how the story will flow. Usually when submitting a pitch to publishers there’s an artist requirement, but again, you have to check the guidelines for the publisher you’re submitting to. Typically it’s requested to have 5 pages, sometimes at minimum sometimes at maximum. Not every page has to be fully rendered though! You can show the art process by having a few pages rendered, some in pencils, and some in the sketch phase so that the editor reading will know how your process works when they start working with you.
The script should follow the pages that you shared. This will show how the script will look when you’re working with an editor and artist. This one is pretty self explanatory too and if you need a comic script template, Steenz and Camilla Zhang made a fantastic one [Here].
Give a polite thanks for reading. Link your email one last time so they can quickly grab it.
While order of operations is not set in stone when formatting a pitch, make sure it’s cohesive. You can make this pitch plain and simple or you can flex your graphic design skill and add color and pizazz to make it stand out. It’s all up to you!
Now! Since this is Curiosity Corner, I won’t give you all this knowledge and not give you a template to try your hand at it. (I see you visual learners, I am here for you.) So, here’s a WildStar Press template that you can practice with or use.
Now go forth and make your pitch, there’s publishers that should see your stories!