Submitting to Agencies/Publishers

  • Hi, all! I'm starting to compile a list of agencies and publishers that I want to submit to, and I have a few questions. Would anyone who has experience with submissions be able to lend their thoughts?

    • A lot of companies have a submissions page (Bright's, for example). If they have a page like this, should I ALSO send an e-mail? Should I be trying to email directly to AD's/agents, or is it fine to e-mail the general "submissions@company[dot]com"? (Basically, I want to make sure I cover all my bases, without being redundant and obnoxious. Does that make sense?)

    • Do postcards count as unsolicited submissions? Some companies forbid postal submissions. Are companies ever annoyed by postcards?

    • I live in the US, but I've found a lot of companies located in other countries. (Mainly the UK and Canada.) Is it legal/appropriate (?) for me to apply to companies outside of my country?

    They might be kinda dumb questions, but I would really appreciate if anyone has any advice. Thank you so much!

  • Pro

    @baileymvidler Here's my 2 cents to the best of my knowledge 🙂

    1. Agencies are really busy and receive a lot of submissions.. I imagine the submission system they put in place helps them. Although you can't know for sure what could help your chances, if they do have a submissions page I think the best practice is to follow their instructions to the tee. I think it's respectful!

    2. Not sure, but since postcards are such a common practice in the illustration industry and I heard that art directors love them, I think unless they specifically say no postcards then it should be okay. Postal submissions, I think, refer to a physical bound portfolio. Those are bulky and would be hard to handle in quantity (and store). But a postcard doesn't present the same problems.

    3. It depends on each agency. If they only accept local artists, they will certainly mention that. If they don't, they are likely an international agency. I think most big agencies are, these days. I live in Canada but am represented by Astound Us which is based in the US but also has offices in Europe and Asia. Before that I was represented by Beehive Illustration, a UK agency.

  • Moderator

    I'm going to put in my two cents worth, even though I have not yet gotten a job by submissions yet. I have done a lot of research and listening.

    1. I think that if you have had a face to face conversation or even one through social media, I think it would be okay to email that person, with the presumption that they might remember you. If you are not sure, you could always just ask them if you could send them some samples directly or if they prefer you use the submission guidelines. I asked and A.D that I connected with on LinkedIn if I could send her a postcard and she gushed, "We LOVE postcards" ...well, as much as one can GUSH with text. LOL
    2. I choose to believe that postcards are not unsolicited submissions, but little gifts to the receivers. I think what @NessIllustration said was spot on.
    3. I think if you feel that the publisher is a good fit for your style and you don't mind working with a company that you might never actually visit IRL, then I say go for it! I tend to send to countries that speak a language that I can understand, just in case. Lee mentioned once about some problems getting paid for a job that he did for an out of country publisher. He eventually did, but it was a hassle.

    Please take all my advice with a grain of salt, as I am still a rookie in the marketing arena. =)x

  • @NessIllustration Thank you so much for your thorough response, as always!

    @burvantill Thank you for your response as well! Oh, man, I haven't even thought about LinkedIn. If I may ask, how do you approach AD's on LinkedIn? I've only ever connected with someone if I had met them in person first. Is it okay to connect with someone if you haven't met them first?

  • Moderator

    @baileymvidler When I first started looking for AD and editors on linked in I couldn’t see their profiles or connect with them because I didn’t have a big enough network so I started asking to connect with as many relevant people as I was allowed to, always sending a message with the connect request, “Would you mind connecting with me I’m trying to expand my network.” So far everyone has connected and my network is much bigger now. I never submit in LinkedIn though. I keep my profile there fairly up to date with new art. I do ask if I may send them a postcard or email submission. Sometimes they say yes, sometimes no and sometimes they don’t answer. Lol.

  • @NessIllustration If you don't mind my asking - what was your experience with Beehive illustration like? I'm assuming you decided to leave them? They keep popping up in my search feed so I'm just curious.

  • Pro

    @Mary-Toth They were very sweet people for sure, and the process there was very casual and informal. That's probably quite nice for experienced illustrators, but I really wanted and needed a bit more guidance. There was no orientation, I wasn't assigned a specific agent, not had the chance to discuss how to improve my portfolio or what direction would be right for my career. Since it was my first experience, I didn't know any better and didn't push for those things. After nearly a year, I had only had one, very small contract (below $400).

    I know it can take a while for things to get started at a new agency and that in itself wouldn't have been enough to drive me to leave, but it was more the fact that I had zero guidance on what I could or should do to improve my chances of getting work. One day I saw a call for submissions from an agency that pre-screens illustrators for agencies (sounds meta but it's legit, it's called ItsMe). On impulse I decided to submit my portfolio, and Lara at ItsMe matched me with Astound Us and asked me to try out for their final review. I was accepted, and switched agencies.

    I have to say Beehive took it very well (they are very nice people) and said it was too bad I decided to leave because they were soon going to have their annual portfolio review. So they're not ENTIRELY without guidance, but the fact that they never mentioned that's a thing they do was still pretty damning to me. When I signed at Astound, the process was a lot more involved, with a lengthy contract and discussions with my assigned agent about my portfolio and career. I got my first contract very quickly and have received new ones at least once a month since, with a gradual improvement in the quality of contracts. All in all much more structure which is what I needed. But Beehive may be a wonderful match for someone else who wants a more hands off approach.

  • @baileymvidler I recently have just gone through the process of submitting to agencies, and I am slowly picking up submissions to publishers.

    I agree with @NessIllustration on following agencie's submission guidelines.

    Postcard is not considered an agency submission in my understanding. But it is a way to get eye balls on your art. It never hurt to reach out with postcards to both agencies and publishers (but right now, people are working from home, I would hold on to postcard campaign for a while)

    With agencies, one of the most important thing is to do your research. It is really important to find an agency that fits with your art, and you are comforatble with the way they operates. It is probably a very good idea to talk to some artists who are represented by the agencies you want to apply. I spent a lot of time put together a list of agenices I want to apply, and I read as much as I could about the agencies, looking through what books they have helped putting out, and I also look for podcasts that interviews agents from the agencies I want to apply. I am looking for agents that talk about art and business in a way I understand/agree/admire.

    Most of the agencies will not reply, and so does publishers. That is the strange standard in the publishing world today, an unforturate and annoy truth for us illustrators. So the best way for us to deal with this is to expect no reply at all. And if someone send back a personaised reply, that means he/she is interested in yoru work, and you can put them on the list of "apply later".

  • @xin-li Thanks for the advice! I will definitely make sure to do research on each agency before submitting. Didn't even think about everyone working from home right now!

  • @NessIllustration Thank you for the insight! I left my last agency for pretty much the exact same reason. Plus I was finding more work on my own but was under contract to send the clients their way and they probably would have "negotiated" a lower price than what I would have negotiated on my own lol. ItMe sounds really interesting - I may just look into that!

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