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Open Submissions

Sparkler Monthly is currently accepting submissions for comics, including existing free webcomics! Comic submissions will close on November 30th, 11:59 PST.

We are looking for comics that fit in three different categories:

Sparkler Comics:

The core series that run in our magazine receive a regular page rate, which is based on many different factors. These are the comics that run regularly in Sparkler and appear for free on the website on a weekly schedule.

Sparkler Shorts:

For some creators/some types of stories, we may run a short as either a standalone or a precursor to a longer series. These are on a less intense schedule than the usual Sparkler comics. A short that does well may become an ongoing series, or we may ask for sequel stories until we have enough pages for a book. We generally offer a flat rate for the entire story to allow some flexibility on page count.

Sparkler Partners:

We’re looking for comics to partner with. Although we can’t pay a page rate, we will be able to host them on the website, give editorial support, help with promotion, and work with them to fundraise book versions of the comic via Kickstarter. Successful comics may be offered a chance to become regular Sparkler series, and we will likely commission the creators for promo artwork or covers. This is also an option for creators who want some support, but want more freedom in their schedule, or to fundraise or publish outside of Sparkler’s system (for example, if you want to release pages on your personal patreon ahead of time, etc.)

 

How to apply:

Fill out this form with the following information:

  • A link to a minimum of 8 pages of your comic, hosted online.
    • Your pages can be hosted on your own webcomic site or online portfolio, a webcomic hosting site like Tapas, a social media site like Tumblr or Deviantart–somewhere online. Please send us a link where our staff can read the comic in order from the beginning.
  • A one page plot summary. Check the FAQ below for more info about what we’re looking for.
  • Links to any supplementary material you’d like us to see–your portfolio, any past comic projects, your social media accounts, your resume.
  • If you have them we’d like some statistics (some of these apply only to established webcomics):
    • How many pages already exist/how long do you expect the finished product to be?
    • How often you post (how many days a week/month)
    • Any data you have about your readership (if you have one)–how many unique views per week, subscribers on Tapas, social media followers, sales numbers for books you’ve self published, etc. If you don’t have that kind of data, that’s fine, but we’re interested in anything you do have!

Click here to apply!

 

FAQ

What format do you want for the plot summary? How do I fit my entire complicated plot into one page?

We don’t expect you to fit every plot detail into a one page summary. Think of it more as a sales pitch for your story. What is your basic premise? What are the most important themes, plotlines, and character relationships? What are the big moments you’re going to be working toward? If someone asked you to explain your story to them in 15 minutes, what would you tell them–and what parts of that explanation make you excited? This might look very different for a fantasy adventure vs. a slice of life drama.

Even if you’re planning a very plot-heavy story, be sure to give your characters and themes some focus. Sparkler series are always about people, regardless of what else is going on. No matter what kind of story you’re writing we’re looking for more than a simple list of plot points. Give us the context–who are your main characters, how do they react to the situation they find themselves in, and what are the stakes?

You can format this as paragraphs, bullet points, use headings for plot and character sections, or any other way as long as it’s clear and easy to read.

One last tip–don’t be coy about your major plot points. I think someone out there is telling writers that they should leave their conclusion out of pitches to publishers, instead “leaving them wanting more” by leaving the ending ambiguous. This is bad advice! One of the things we judge stories on is whether the creator is able to give them a satisfying conclusion. We need to know if you’re able to tie up the plot threads you’ve set up, and whether you have a plan for bringing your story to a climax. Pitching to a publisher isn’t the same as pitching to readers–you’re not just trying to get us interested, you’re also trying to prove that you can tell a good story from beginning to end.

My comic isn’t online / I don’t want to put my comic online / My comic is behind a paywall!

That’s all right–we prefer that you put your pages online publicly, but if necessary, you can use a file sharing service like Stash, Dropbox, or Google Drive. Just be sure to turn on link sharing so that all the members of our staff have access (we will keep the link private among our staff).

What rights does Sparkler take in their contracts with creators?

For all Sparkler series, the creator retains copyright.

For Sparkler Comics and Sparkler Shorts, we license the exclusive right to publish from the creator, usually for several years, and non-exclusive rights to the pages after that (so the creator will have the freedom to take their story elsewhere if they want, but we’re still allowed to sell the books we’ve printed and leave your pages in magazine back issues). The creator retains foreign language rights, rights to sell the story in other mediums (like movie rights), and a number of other rights, though there may be times when we get involved with those kinds of deals. The main thing the creator can’t do is take their pages and sell them to another company or post them somewhere else without negotiating with us while the licensing deal is in place.

All our contracts include a clause where if we’re unable to continue publishing your work through no fault of the creator, it reverts back to the creator automatically after a certain period of time. So your work won’t end up in limbo if Sparkler goes under or stops publishing.

Sparkler Partners are a little different–because we don’t pay a page rate, we have fewer rights and less control. We act more like hosts and distributors, handling many of the technical or annoying parts of publishing in exchange for a cut of ad revenue, and designing, formatting, and selling your books and ebooks on your behalf for a percentage of your Kickstarter and book sales, etc.

We’re always flexible about rights and willing to adjust our terms to make things work for everyone, so if during contract negotiation a creator has a particular concern or a right they want to retain, just talk to us and we can often work something out.

 

More questions? Leave a comment below!

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Comments (32)
  1. sora1027

    How long are you defining your “Shorts” vs. Regular comics? Is this in chapters or pages?

    Also, does the Sparkler Partners count for rebooting an existing series? How does the editorial process work with Sparkler Partner stories?

    • Rebecca Scoble Rebecca Scoble

      We generally consider shorts to be around 40 pages or less, ideally with an option to expand if it does well. Longer comics are over 80 pages–in other words, at least enough for one decent sized graphic novel.

      We will definitely consider a reboot of an existing series–in fact, several current Sparkler comics are reboots. Just make sure to give us the following info:
      1. A link to the original comic.
      2. An 8-page example of what the new pages will look like (this could be recent pages of the old comic if your art style has evolved, pages from another comic if you plan to do your reboot in that style, or brand new pages). Be sure to make it clear which pages represent the look of the new comic.
      3. As part your one page summary, a brief explanation of why you’re rebooting and how the reboot will be different from the original.

      The editorial process for everyone–partners and otherwise–really depends on the creator. Some creators work best with regular feedback on their story outlines or thumbs, others are much more hands-off. Every creator has an editor they report to who you’ll be able to ask questions and get feedback from, and you’ll work out the details of that with your individual editor. We also have a creator Discord that many of our creators use for peer feedback from other artists, usually on particular issues they’re having with their artwork/technical issues with art programs/etc.

    • Rebecca Scoble Rebecca Scoble

      Any comic in the Webtoon scrolling format would have to be reformatted into pages before going on our site. Can you figure out about how many pages your work would be in our format, assuming they need to be approximately the same size so they can go to print eventually? We don’t need an exact page count at this point, it can be an estimate.

  2. Mark

    Quick question: will submissions be responded to as they come in or will the team be waiting until the end of the submission period to review material? Thanks!

  3. Brandy

    Hi! I plan on making a comic soon but haven’t even written it down yet. I was wondering do I need to make a plot summary for each page I make or for every chapeter or the story in general? Also do I need to put my comic in color or black and white? I usually just keep it traditional since I like it that way or do I have to change it to color or black and white?

    Thank you for your time!

    • Rebecca Scoble Rebecca Scoble

      The plot summary that you send us should be for your full story–we want an overview of your entire comic.

      Also, we accept both color and black and white comics, so do whatever you think works best for your story and art style! I highly suggest taking a look at our “comics” tab on the site to get an idea of what other Sparkler comics look like and see how you think yours would fit into that.

    • Rebecca Scoble Rebecca Scoble

      We don’t run submissions on a strict schedule, or plan them out more than a few months in advance (we open them when we know we’re going to want new content soon, which is based on a ton of random factors). That said, we’ve never had open submissions for the same type of content more than once a year, so once this period ends, it’s very unlikely we’ll be looking for comics again before October 2019.

      If you’re not sure whether you want to pitch right now, I’d suggest giving it a try! Just the act of putting together comic pages on a deadline and writing out a plot summary is a good thing to practice if you’re serious about making comics–and even if you end up not being what Sparkler is looking for at the moment, you’ll still have your 8 pages finished, ready to start your personal webcomic or pitch somewhere else.

  4. Pingback: Boo! Say hello to the new issue of Spookler–er, SPARKLER! | Sparkler Monthly

  5. NAAN

    I didn’t see this above anywhere, so: are you also accepting submissions from writer-artist pairs? Or just pitches from sole creators for now? Thank you!

    • Rebecca Scoble Rebecca Scoble

      Writer-artist teams are welcome to pitch! As long as you’ve got your full comic team put together, it doesn’t matter to us how many people are involved (the only thing we don’t accept is pitches from writers or artists alone where we’d need to pair them up with a creative partner).

    • Rebecca Scoble Rebecca Scoble

      Yes! Although we’ve never published 4-koma before, it’s definitely something we’re interested in if we find the right one!

      The publishing schedule for all comics, long-form or 4-koma, is a minimum of 4 pages a month (so we can have a new comic page on the website once a week). Many of our comics are on a faster schedule than that, and we definitely consider it a bonus if you’re able to put out 8 or even more pages a month, but as long as you can hit the 4 page baseline we will consider you.

      For 4-koma specifically, one page = one strip. Formatting will probably be an issue since our site is set up for comic pages of a particular width, but there are ways to work around that, and we’ll figure it out with the creator once we’re in the hiring process.

  6. Volt

    Will you contact entries you don’t pick for your magazine and will you also be able to provide a reason why the entry was rejected? I know it’s a lot to ask for since you’re probably reviewing many submissions and might not have enough time.

    Also, what’s the page rate for comics and flat rate for shorts like? Since you mentioned it depends on many different factors, are you able to provide an approximate range?

    • Rebecca Scoble Rebecca Scoble

      Unfortunately, we really can’t offer much feedback. We usually just don’t have time, though occasionally we will if one of our editors has something they want to say.

      I’m sorry, I really can’t say anything else about pagerates right now. It really depends on the situation, though we’re fairly in line with other small indie comics presses from what we’ve seen.

    • Rebecca Scoble Rebecca Scoble

      We’re definitely open to all genres! The things that connect our series are a focus on relationships between characters, a progressive mindset, and what we consider a shoujo mentality (or female gaze). We try to have a balance of cuteness and darkness between our stories, since every time we ask for feedback people seem evenly split on which they like better, and to be honest our editorial staff likes both, too.

      The one genre we get more than enough of in submissions is fantasy. We like fantasy, of course, but we get so much of it that things that fall outside of that genre tend to stand out more. And if you do submit a fantasy story, we tend to prefer fantasy that feels modern, moves quickly, and isn’t overly complex. So no stodgy dialogue, huge casts, or frontloaded worldbuilding that gets in the way of your characters and plot.

      Other than that, there are a ton of things we’re looking for to fill what we see as holes in our lineup. For example, I’d love more great trans and nonbinary characters, and stories that take place in countries outside of North America, Europe, and Japan. Varied body types and awesome female characters even in stories with main male characters are other marks in the plus column.

      But all that aside, the things we look for ahead of anything else are:

      1. Does this look appealing at first glance? Is the art attractive enough to sell the comic to our readers, and are your fundamentals–anatomy, perspective, comic craft and storytelling–solid?

      2. Does the writing grip us? Do we, the Sparkler staff, feel excited about it and want to read more, whether it’s because of a lovable character or an exciting plot?

      If a comic doesn’t pass those two tests, it doesn’t matter what other boxes it checks off, we know it isn’t going to work for us.

    • Rebecca Scoble Rebecca Scoble

      I’m not 100% sure what you mean by “site,” but I’m assuming you mean the different types of contracts we offer–comics, shorts, or partners? Yes, you can definitely mark that you’re interested in all three if you’d like! Choosing those isn’t set in stone, it just indicates to us what’s most important to you–a pagerate plus more editorial oversight, vs. no pagerate but more freedom to do things independently. If we come to you with an offer, we will talk things out with you at the time and figure out a deal that works for everyone.

  7. teloka berry

    hello there! my girlfriend and I have several long form webcomics that are still in progress and running full time, though both have several chapters under their belts (200+ pages on one, 65+ pages on the other)

    we currently host both on Tapastic and are really keen to keep our comics updating there because we’ve got an established readership- about 900+ between both comics- and friendly engagement with our readers who we don’t want to lose or inconvenience by switching platforms entirely

    we were wondering if any of the Sparkler categories (maybe partners?) would accommodate this simultaneous publishing on Tapastic as well, like a mirror, or if Sparkler would want to be the exclusive comics host regardless of the comic categories?

    thank you so much for your time, and I apologise if this is covered in the above info already and I’ve just misunderstood; it’s just something we need to understand clearly before we can consider submitting!

    • Rebecca Scoble Rebecca Scoble

      We’re not 100% against it, but to be honest, we almost never let our artists post for free elsewhere and split their audience like that. It would have to be a very unusual situation (and probably a comic with a very large readership) for us to make this exception.

      • teloka berry

        okay, that’s totally fair! in that case it’s probably not suitable for us. thank you very much for getting back to me so quickly and letting us know!