The Top 10 Ways To Impress an Editor

When Mr. X. asked me to guest blog I was glad to step up. Seriously, the idea of having a huge captive audience for a week was almost irresistible. But what to write? The answer came to me at once…

For the aspiring (web)comics creator there are articles and advice aplenty on how to make comics. And yet, despite all this well-meaning information, I have often felt that something vital was lacking; something that would convey the real emotions inspired by a job thoroughly done. To correct that, I have compiled the following list. It's full-to-bursting with professional experience and the emotions those episodes stirred within my own black heart. It cannot fail, I am sure, to inspire the right-thinking, would-be comics creator on to dazzling new heights of personal achievement.


The Top 10 Ways To Impress an Editor

1. First off, please let me know (in detail) just how ignorant you are of me and of the kind of work our site showcases. Nothing warms the cockles of my editorial heart quite so much as seeing a wildly unsuitable submission that has been addressed, “Dear Sir/Madam.” And while you’re at it, make sure I know that you would have subscribed and gotten familiar with us, but that you are soooo poor, you just couldn’t manage the three bucks/don’t have a credit card/live in a cave without the internet/couldn’t see your way clear to pass up that last double latte. And really, if we wanted you to be familiar with our site, we’d offer free samples or something.

2. If you think your work is sub-par, please, by all means, feel free to tell me about it at length. I can’t hear enough about how the submission I am spending my valuable time reading is “not your best work” or that you, “can certainly do better”. No really, trying to sell me on your work while calling it shit, is endearing.

3. Be sure to let me know about your lack of commitment to your work. I, for one, am absolutely riveted when I hear aspiring creators tell me that they’d love to be part of my team, but that they won’t be able to update during the summer because, “That’s when my family goes camping and besides, I do all my work during boring math class and anyway, and also I won’t be able to get any paper or pencils because, ya’know, school is out and I can’t raid the supply cabinet.”

4. Speaking of supplies… Ignore those folks that insist that you use quality materials. Hey! You’re poor, remember? Besides, I hear that notebook paper is every bit as archival as Bristol board. Who cares about a few (dozen) erasures anyway? And I hear that those college ruled lines add character and a sense of devil-may-care edginess to a series. Besides, if I want crisp, clear linework, it’s my job as the Editor to fire up the Photoshop and finish your work for you… right?

5. Forget about originality or thinking for yourself. As with all Editors, I want the most derivative drivel out there. Hey, if a story/set of character types was successful once, (or a dozen times) why deviate from that model? Please, send me only that which you have lovingly traced… er, “homaged” from Sailor Moon and/or Teen Titans. No, really! The more, hackneyed a concept the better! Stale jokes about college life? Bring it on! Endless one-liners about what dorks gamers are? Tell me more! I have an unlimited capacity for pain and there’s a head-sized crater in my desk top to prove it!

6. Sure, I post a submission guide, but I don’t really mean it. So go ahead and blow it off. After all, it’s not like I can tell if you’ve read it or anything. It’s not like that’s actually the first leg of the weeding-out process.

7. When composing your proposal, please, be sure to include a rambling paragraph (or twelve) containing every last detail of your characters’ lives, thoughts, hopes, dreams, blood type, derivation and cosmic essence. This is what I live for! A concise and well thought missive that keeps to the facts and presents your series and characters in a professional manner? Bah! I’d so much rather read about how your main character is a manifestation of your soul-self and that you “don’t believe in plot”. Hey! I could read that shit till my eyes bleed!

8. You are a rebel! You are an innovator! You are so cutting edge I could shave my legs on your very aura! I want, (nay, crave) to know these things! Your art is organic and free-flowing, unfettered by such plebian concerns as anatomy, scale or perspective. While you’re at it, why not toss in a few words about how drawing classes are “a waste of time.” Because, come on, it’s not willful ineptitude, it’s a stylistic choice.

9. Language is a fluid, ephemeral thing. The “King’s English” is so last Tuesday. So prove to me how “down” you are with the hip kids and be sure to litter your communications to me with emoticons and the very latest chat-speak. Who cares if I can’t read it? That only proves just how very on-the-edge you really are! Because nothing says “serious professional” quite like a dribbling mass of illegible, literary diarrhea, punctuated by the occasional blast of self-important ass gas. LOLZ!!111111!!!

10. And finally, when meeting in person at, say, a convention, I would simply love it if you were to excitedly rush to show me your portfolio (or tell me your webcomic idea) when I am obviously in the middle of a conversation with someone else! Better yet, interrupt a conversation, ask if I review portfolios, the completely dismiss the idea of submitting your work to my site, because you just realized that my table wasn’t the one you were actually looking for. Bonus points if you fail to apologize! While your at it, go ahead and pile your crap on top of my carefully laid out table display! Knock things over! Watch my head explode! Now that’s the way to make an impression!




  1. I've got my Super-Sailor Metroid story ready, though I just have some rough sketches and the intensive character bios. It's not my best stuff, but you should like it. I'm hiding in the bushes outside your house. I thought that might be a more creative touch. If you reject me, I shall blog about it to no end!

    P.S. – You don't mind if it's wide-ruled paper and not college-ruled, right?

    Don't hesitate to procrastinate. See my stuff at

  2. Um.

    Did anyone mention that if the editor DOES give constructive criticism of the concept, to ignore it altogether since the editor obviously “doesn’t get it”??

    (I’ve never tried out for Girlamatic, but T. Campbell gave me some excellent advice when I tried out for GRAPHIC SMASH, and I hope he knows I appreciated it and tried to learn from it.)–Al

    Al Schroeder III of MINDMISTRESS—think the superhero genre is mined out?

    Think there are no new superhero ideas?

    Think again.

  3. 17. Be familiar with the editor: Refer to them as bud, dude, chick, whatever. Make them feel at home by divulging personal details, like your use of narcotics or what you think about various political parties and religions. Ask them how much they earn, gross and net.

    18. Use Lots of Hyperbole! It's the best strip ever! My story is perfect! Everyone will be floored, knocked out, and hyped by what happens next!

     19. Argue with the editor when they give you advice, make a request, or say no. Nothing says 'winner' like telling an editor that he's wrong! They will totally respect you for standing up for yourself and calling their judgement into question!

    20. Make your comic look better by trashtalking everyone else's comics: I mean, really, all those other comics are rubbish, right? The editor should know this.

  4. In the bushes? Look mister, if you're gonna lurk you're gonna work. Now pick up those clippers and get busy. Â

    -Lisa Jonté
    Artist, Writer, Flibbertigibbet, Editor

  5. I felt kinda jerky so I changed this comment to this:

    I saw an editor a few months ago and he told me that it was great and that he would totally publish it… if it wasn't in color because they're a small company who only does black and white.

    Â Now, I researched a few companies before deciding who to talk to and went with them because I felt like my comic matched what they put out more than the other companies that were available. But… but like… I did not research enough.


    Lesson learned -Â


  6. Or what about 10 ways for an editor to impress a creator? Most of these would probably apply to print publishers more than web collectives but, having worn an editor's hat for a while, I'm well aware that there is a shared guilt here and it's wrong of editors to criticise creators without first owning up to their own sins …! Here are seven for starters:

    1. When you receive a submission you don't intend to accept, please don't reply. Even a courteous one line e-mail would obviously be far more than the creator is expecting and could cause heart failure. It is, after all, a self-evident truth that a failure to respond is entirely due to the weight of submissions received and not the fact that the publisher just doesn't allocate sufficient resources to the submissions desk.

    2. Please do reject submissions, irrespective of quality, for trivial breaches of the submission guidelines like putting contact details on the left rather than the right hand side of the paper. Creators fully understand that the job of a submissions editor is not to discover the next best seller but to reduce the size of the submissions backlog as quickly as possible. Any creators who breach those trivial technicalities, therefore, are obviously trying to help by giving the editor an excuse to reject the submission before reading it, thereby saving him/her a huge amount of time.

    3. Be consistent. Always reject submissions which are dissimilar to those already on the books on the grounds that they do not "fit" with your existing line-up. Similarly, always reject submissions which are similar those already on the books on the grounds that you already have several other titles in that style/genre. Only by applying both of these rules rigidly will the creator be left in no doubt that, actually, you don't want submissions of any kind.

    4. Please remind readers regularly that you met the creators of Title X at a recent convention or that their work was recommended by someone else already on your books. Creators will find it reassuring to know that you are rejecting their work while accepting other submissions of inferior quality because – as in all walks of life – success is more a matter of who you know rather than how good you are.

    5. If you can't find any reason to reject a particular submission, please do refer it to someone else before accepting it. There is always a chance they might spot something you missed.

    6. Always give precedence to inferior work by established writers and artists over superior work by unknown talent. New creators love to see those who have already made it being give a free ride while their work languishes in the slush pile.  It gives them something to aspire to.

    7. When criticising a submission for poor spelling, grammar or construction, please do include a few deliberate mistakes of your own. It will lessen the blow if the creator is led to believe that his or her command of English is at least on a par with yours.

    There you are – from someone who is delighted to no longer be sat in the editor's chair – seven golden rules for would-be editors! Anyone care to bring it up to 10?

    Broken Voice Comics
    Because comics are not just for kids

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