column_breakout.gifYou’ve probably seen the signs outside some of your favorite stores…”No Solicitations”…”No Soliciting”…”Solicitors will be shot!”…”If you’re a solicitor, please bang your leg on the wall–my dog likes his meat tender.” Kind of wish there was a sign like that for your phone or mailbox sometimes, don’t you? With all of those early morning or late night phone calls from people constantly trying to sell you something as well as the constant barrage of mailed solicitations, who wouldn’t want a little break from it? Heck, if you really needed that product or service, you’d go with a friend’s recommendation, go to one of the bigger names in that business or check out a few places that have work you’re familiar with.

Now is a good time to remember that when you submit to a publisher, you’re trying to sell them your story or services as a comic creator. You can probably imagine now why DC “does not read or accept unsolicited submissions of ideas, stories or artwork.” And why Marvel comics for the longest time had the “No Solicitations” sign in the window to keep all those writer submissions at bay. But just because they have the sign in the door, doesn’t mean the editors won’t look for the talent or check out a few creators that have work they’re familiar with. The sign in the door doesn’t stop them from asking people to send them samples to take a look at and see if it’s work they’d like to purchase. Pretty much the same way all those small businesses initiate contact with solicitors.

But how do you get them to ask? Well, you just have to wonder how all these other companies get people to call them up and buy their stuff all the time. Word-of-mouth goes a long way, being a big name can definitely make a difference, and developing a large following of happy, loyal customers certainly helps. But most businesses out there can’t get the big name, the hot buzz talk, or the loyal fans without proving that they can deliver the work first. Once they’ve proven themselves, it opens up doors.

Those can lead to opportunities that might open other doors, and then when you’re talking to that editor, they might recognize your name and ask you to send something to them. Sure, you could just start up a conversation with them anyways, and if they like you, they might ask you to send some stuff their way–but how well do you think your portfolio of pencils or scripts will stand up against the person that sends in copies of completed comics and solid references from various small press publishers they’ve worked with in the past? Would you want to go with the home builder that has really nice blueprints and models of houses but has never actually built one or the builder that can show you lots of actual houses with recommendations from happy customers that would gladly buy from them again?