If you haven’t heard by now, KidLit GN has joined forces with Kids Comics Unite (KCU) for a Pitch-a-Palooza in October. We’re hosting a joint information session on Sept. 6. The details and how to sign up are below. Janna Morishima, agent and founder of KCU graciously offered to answer some questions about KCU and how it differs from what we do at KidLit GN. Additionally, Janna is giving away a free pass to her pitching workshop on Sept. 9. See details below on how to enter. Thank you, Janna!
What, in a nutshell, is KCU and how can people get more information?
Kids Comics Unite is an online community for kids and YA graphic novel creators. It’s free to join! It’s a great place to connect with fellow creators, ask questions, and get feedback on your work.
Within KCU, if you want to “take it to the next level,” you can join Kids Comics Studio, a membership program where we meet every week for a variety of events. These include an Accountability Group, live critique sessions, “Lunch and Learn” talks, and workshops.
All Studio talks and workshops are recorded and available as replays – by now we have an archive of more than seventy past events. They cover the gamut, everything from visual storytelling to coloring to author visits and so much more.
What I love about Kids Comics Studio is that, because we meet every single week on Zoom, we really get to know each other. We become friends! So our discussions are open and honest and incredibly encouraging.
KCU also offers courses and workshops specifically geared to kids and YA graphic novelists, both beginners and more experienced. Kids Comics Intensive is our flagship course, and recent workshops have focused on creative coaching, crowdfunding, and building your creator website.
For more information, visit kidscomicsunite.com. To join the free community, just click the blue “Join” button on the top right of the website!
How is KCU’s Pitchfest different from KidLit GN’s pitch event?
KidLitGN’s event is free and simply involves uploading your pitch to the KidLitGN website so agents and editors can look at it during the showcase week in early October.
KCU Pitchfest is a competition with a jury of industry professionals. You can see the list of agents and editors on this year’s jury here. We’re very proud of the diverse and international group of judges we’ve assembled!
For KCU Pitchfest, you pay a submission fee in order to upload your pitch. The submission period is during the latter half of October.
The jury then reviews all pitches and votes on them. Winners are announced during a special online event (including a “State of the Industry” panel) on November 4th.
As an agent, what are you looking for in a pitch for both the short pitches we have for KidLit GN’s website pitch event, and the more involved pitches you showcase through Pitchfest?
Well, first off, I’d say that the pitch requirements for KCU Pitchfest are not too much more involved than what’s required for KidLitGN. I would call them “micro-pitches.”
What we require for KCU Pitchfest is a short synopsis (about one paragraph), two to four full color sample page spreads, an author bio, and a “Why” statement (also about one paragraph).
This is much less than what’s required for a full graphic novel proposal. However, sometimes distilling your story into a short synopsis and a handful of sample art pages can be harder than you’d think!
But I think this process of “boiling down” your pitch into these essential elements is actually quite useful. It’s the “elevator pitch” approach: can you quickly sum up the main storyline in a few sentences that make the reader want to know more? Can just a few pieces of sample art make the reader want to keep going and see more?
The limitations of our submission requirements are a good reflection of how agents and editors vet submissions. They get so many submissions on a daily and weekly basis, they have to make snap judgements. They’ll usually skim a query letter, take a quick look at any sample pages or art, and decide within less than a minute if it’s worth spending more time to review carefully.
That’s basically what I’m looking for as an agent: a short synopsis that makes sense, intrigues me, and has a powerful emotional hook. And sample art that makes me react: it’s funny or beautiful or fresh in some way.
And finally, since I work mainly with kids and YA material, I want to get a strong sense that the creator knows their audience. They empathize with and understand the mindset of the particular age level they’re writing for.
Why did you decide to join up with KidLitGN this year?
I strongly, strongly believe that collaboration builds a better future. So anytime KCU can collaborate with other groups or organizations that have complimentary missions, we’re up for it!
KidLitGN is spearheaded by an amazing group of creators, and has accomplished so much in terms of spotlighting new talent and furthering the field. And you’ve done it all as volunteers! I want to give all of you a huge cheer!
Where can people find out more about KCU’s Pitchfest?
You can find out more about KCU Pitchfest here. If you have any questions about it, there’s a list of FAQs at the bottom of the page.
Also, we’re offering a free Info Session together with KidLitGN on Sept. 6th at 8:30 pm EST. If you have questions for us about any of the fall pitch events, you can ask us at this event!
We hope you decide to submit your pitch this fall!
To enter to win a free pass to KCU’s pitching workshop on September 9, please comment below with your name. To enter more than once, share this post on social media, then reply to your original comment with the link to where you shared the post. You can enter as many times as you shared. This contest will close by end of day on Sept. 6, and the winner will be selected shortly after.