Hey y'all! So I started typing this up as a response to another question on this forum, and it turned into a huge thing, so I decided to make it it's own post!
There are a lot of questions and mystery around what goes into a Pitch Packet and how it should be presented and formatted. Luckily, I have literally taught workshops at my college about how to assemble, format, and present a Pitch Packet, and everything that needs to go into it! So I figured I'd share it with y'all.
WHAT IS A PITCH PACKET?
A pitch packet is a document of art and story elements that you submit to an Editor, a Publisher, or an Agent, in order to convey the scope and details of your story idea in an attempt to get it picked up. In graphic novels and comics, there is no One Way to put together a pitch packet, and different publishers or editors will have different requirements. If the company you're pitching to has posted submission guidelines, follow those first and foremost. But the following is a good place to start. And at the end, I'll share a link to a finished pitch packet so you can see what it should look like when it's done.
WHAT GOES INTO A PITCH PACKET?
This is a big question, so I'm gonna break it down into bits. These are the elements that go into a good pitch packet. You don't need to put them exactly in this order (for example, some people like to put their Sample Pages before their Overview/Chapter Breakdown if their pages are really eye-catching), but this is generally the order in which things should be presented.
The first page of your pitch packet should be some kind of iconic image that represents your project as a whole. Think of it like a cover (though it likely won't actually wind up being the cover of your series). Depict the characters and the tone and the vibe of your story in one image. Make sure you have the title and your name on it!
A one-sentence overview of the story, including the main character and the conflict. This is NOT a hook. A hook is a question or attention-grabbing statement, like something you would see in a movie trailer or on a poster. A logline is a summary of your story.
A good logline will include the protagonist, the inciting incident, the protagonist's goal, and the central conflict.
This is the first thing anyone looking at your pitch packet will read, so make it good! If you don't know where to start, begin by filling in the following statement, and edit it from there.
When [INCITING INCIDENT OCCURS], a [SPECIFIC PROTAGONIST] must [OBJECTIVE] or else [STAKES].
SCOPE OF THE PROJECT
How long do you anticipate the series being? How many chapters/episodes? How long do you see it running? If it's a graphic novel, how many pages is it? If it's a comic series, how many issues/volumes is it?
Note - If you are a new and unpublished creator, it is much easier to get a shorter project picked up first, since there's less risk involved. Please do not try to pitch your 17-character multi-planet universe-saving epic that will go one for 700 chapters as your very first comic.
Also in this section, include your demographic - KidLit/Early Readers, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult, or Mature. Webtoons and Tapas skew towards Young Adult, graphic novels are currently very heavily Middle Grade, and comic book floppies are typically Adult.
A 1-2 paragraph summary of the entire story. DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING OUT. If you have a twist ending, you include the twist ending. This is not the time or place for hooks and cliffhangers and questions. Tell the Editor exactly what you have planned for the story, but keep it very brief.
Character art for your main character(s) and main protagonist(s). These do not have to be turnarounds, and should probably not be turnarounds. You want your character designs to reflect the character's personality. Have them doing things, holding things, emoting, posing, and interacting with something, not just standing there lifelessly.
This is bad character art for a pitch packet:
This is good character art for a pitch packet:
Also include a short paragraph or two about the character's personality, purpose in the story, and character growth arc. Do not include their entire life story or backstory, focus on who the character is when the comic starts, not who they used to be.
Keep this section limited to your main cast of characters. If you were doing a pitch packet for Naruto, you would only include Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke, NOT the entire cast of Konoha Village.
A 1-5 page in-depth breakdown of your entire story, chapter by chapter (or issue by issue). Go into more depth and detail here than in your Summary, and don't keep any secrets. Focus on story plot points and character growth arcs, not backstory or worldbuilding.
For both the Summary and the Outline, your best friend is brevity. Find a way to condense your entire story as much as you can. Editors are very busy people and have a lot going on. If you can summarize your story clearly and concisely in as few words as possible, they are more likely to sit and read all of it. If your Outline goes on for twenty pages, they're going to skim it, not read it.
You want to include FINISHED COMIC PAGES of what you expect your finished project to look like. That means if you want the comic to be in color, your sample pages need to be colored. If you want your comic to be in color, but you are not a strong colorist yourself, hire someone to color your sample pages and credit the colorist in the pitch packet so the Editorial team is aware that you are not a colorist yourself, because that means they would need to budget a colorist into their PNL stuff. Same with lettering. If you are not confident in your lettering, DON'T DO IT YOURSELF. Pay someone else to do it for you. You don't want to turn in an otherwise stellar pitch packet that is then ruined by bad lettering that people can't read.
Do not include unfinished pages, sketches, lineart, or thumbnails.
Depending on who you're pitching to, you may need anywhere between 5-25 sample pages. Check any submission guidelines for whatever publisher you're pitching to and make sure you are following their requirements.
Your sample pages do not need to be the first 5-25 pages of your story. And in fact, in most cases, I argue that it should NOT be the first 5-25 pages of your story. Pick a scene that highlights something important about your story, that reflects the themes you want to tell, or a scene of heightened emotional conflict.
Keep in mind, especially if this is for a graphic novel, these sample pages will probably NOT actually appear in the final product. The timeline for getting a graphic novel picked up and edited can be long, and by the time you're ready to draw, your art may have improved significantly and you want to redraw it. Or parts of the story get edited so this scene is no longer entirely relevant. Either way, these pages will very probably not make it to the final project.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This is the page where you tell the Editor about you. Not just who you are and your publication history and what you like to do, but also why the story you're pitching means something to you. If you're telling a story that you have some kind of personal connection to, it will come across in the story and art.
For a lot of people, it can be hard to decide what to say about yourself in one of these bios, so a good rule of thumb is to answer these points:
- Who you are now
- Who you want to be when you grow up
- What your pitch is about
- Why that means something to you
- Who you are when you're not drawing comics
My name is Sarah Davidson, and I'm a late-in-life college student in the Sequential Art department at the Savannah College of Art and Design. (who I am now) My ultimate career goal is to get my Master's degree and teach at SCAD myself, so I can share my love and knowledge of comics with the next generation of artists. (who I want to be when I grow up) Psychic Scooter Squad is ultimately a story of friendship, with all the nostalgia of classic 80s sentai series. (what my pitch is about) As someone who is asexual myself, it's very important to me to tell a story about an ace main character whose life doesn't revolve around a romance, but who would do anything for her friends. (why that means something to me) When I'm not drawing comics, I'm playing video games, watching Great British Bake-Off, and hanging out with my dog Bacon. (who I am when I'm not drawing comics)
It can be fun to include a drawing of yourself (not a photograph) on this page, and also make sure to include your contact information, social media, websites... Make it easy for the Editor to know how to get in contact with you if they want to.
THANK YOU PAGE
It's not a requirement, but it is nice and polite to include a page that says "thank you for your time." This can be part of your About the Author page, or it can be a separate page, but it's just nice to do.
It's a lot to take into account! But those are all the elements that need to go into a strong pitch packet. And because I know it's a lot, and it may still be hard for people to visualize everything, here is a link to a pitch packet I have been developing for a few months now:
I have my contact info censored for obvious reasons, but you can see every element in my packet that is on this list. I still need to trim down my Overview/Chapter Breakdown section, and my logline isn't great, but it can be a long process to get everything prefect.
On the technical side, pitch packets should always be submitted as multi-page PDF documents. Make sure every page of your packet is the same size. Don't have a bunch of Portrait-oriented pages and then throw in a random Landscape-oriented page - keep it consistent. It doesn't matter whether your pages are Portrait or Landscape as long as they are all the same. Depending on how you're submitting it, you may need to compress your PDF using Acrobat or a tool like ilovepdf.com, because all this stuff can get very large. And when you name the file, include your name and the project name. (i.e. SarahDavidson_PsychicScooterSquad.pdf)
Anyway, hopefully this helps some people out! Feel free to ask if you have any questions!