While syndication today has changed significantly in terms of distribution and financial rewards, for many it remains the brass ring of professional achievement. My single panel cartoon, "Spectickles" was picked up by Creators Syndicate in 2016 and launched in October of that year. More recently, my New Yorker magazine-style cartoon called The Percenters was signed into a syndication contract with Knight Features in the UK in October of 2017. While I'm certainly no expert, I frequently get asked by fellow cartoonists for advice, and it's in this spirit I put together this article of resources.
First, identifying the available syndicates. To my knowledge, those listed below are still accepting submissions, presumably with the intent of signing the most marketable. Markets are in a state of rapid change, so it may be of value to email them first to be sure they are accepting submissions. If there are others that I've missed, feel free to comment below, and I'll update this article. We'll start with the major U.S. syndicates, and we'll branch out from there.
King Features - Snail mail submissions only - Submission Guidelines
Creators Syndicate - Online submissions - Submission Guidelines
Andrews McMeel/Universal Uclick/GoComics - Online or snail mail - Submission Guidelines
Washington Post Writer's Group - email - see near bottom of page - Submission Guidelines
Tribune Content Agency - Online submissions - Submission Guidelines
Torstar - Submission Guidelines
Canadian Artist's Syndicate - Submission Guidelines
Knight Features - Submission Guidelines
Bulls Press - Submission Guidelines
Auspac Media - Submission Guidelines
Now that we've identified who to send your comic to, we should talk about what to send them. First, I would advise reading the submission guidelines carefully, and provide exactly what they're asking for, and in the format in which they indicate. Second, in my opinion, there's no need to get elaborate or gimmicky with your submission packet - it's not going to help. Your work will speak entirely for itself, and extra stuff will be a waste of your time and theirs. My submission packet to Creators included a brief cover letter detailing my experience as a cartoonist, including published credits, 24 color Spectickles encapsulated into a PDF document, which went to them as an attachment via their submissions page (link provided above). That's it. I thought it would be wisest to be respectful of their valuable time and not pack it with material that wasn't immediately relevant to their decision. A hard copy submission would be the same material in printed form.
A question that's frequently asked is whether or not to send your comic to syndicates one at a time, wait for an offer or a rejection before sending it to the next syndicate. I always advise to send out a simultaneous submission, and here's why: as a matter of percentages, you are unlikely to get a bite on your first submission. It happens, but I wouldn't count on it. In a worse case scenario, you get more than one offer, and you can decide which one best suits you. Again, this is unlikely, but you never know.
Once your submission goes out, I recommend getting right back to work and forgetting about it. Keep creating your very best work, keep exploring new ideas, enhancing drawing and writing skills, and growing as a cartoonist. Some syndicates will send out a formal rejection letter, others will notify you by email, and still others will answer with unrelenting silence. Waiting in a state of vibrating anticipation will only drive you crazy, so you'd be best served thinking about what you'll be creating next.
I sincerely hope this brief resource article will be helpful to those seeking syndication. More than that, I hope to see new faces in the comics pages, and new success stories from my fellow cartoonists - whether you know it or not, you bring a great deal of smiles, joy, and diversion to a world in desperate need of it, and I applaud you for your contributions.