Why do we charge a submission fee for KCU Pitchfest?

Why Does KCU Charge for Some Activities?

Recently I got an email asking me, “Why do you charge a submission fee for KCU Pitchfest?”

That is an important question!

I realized it might be helpful for me to explain exactly why we charge money for some of KCU’s activities. There are probably other people asking the same question. 🙂

So, to back up to the beginning: KCU started as a casual meetup for kids comics creators and industry pros. We had something like 13 people at our first meeting.

However, with the Covid pandemic, KCU moved online, and I started teaching courses about breaking into the kids graphic novel world. KCU started growing rapidly, and it morphed into a business!

As it evolved, I realized that:

  • there weren’t any educational outlets or associations specifically focused on making comics for kids
  • there are real “issues” (to put it mildly) for creators with platforms like Twitter (ahem, X), Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, etc

I wanted to create a safe and sustainable space for kids comics creators to come together and learn. So I chose to use certain paid software (like Mighty Networks, ActiveCampaign, website hosting, etc) that gives us control. We don’t have to worry about algorithms limiting who sees our members’ posts, or another corporation owning our content.

I also chose to invest in paying a small team that helps us maintain a beautiful and thriving community. We now pay speakers and workshop presenters, as well.

Some of our events are free to the whole community, and some require payment. We try to offer a mix so that everyone has an opportunity to participate however they can.

We Have Overhead

But this means overhead! And we are entirely bootstrapped — we have no outside investors, no loans, nothing. So we need to offer something of value to the community in order to pay our expenses.

When we thought about “what can we offer of value,” one of the things that seemed most valuable is getting creators’ work in front of industry professionals — ie, gatekeepers. And a juried competition is a great way to do that.

Our Pitchfest fee includes the administrative costs for organizing and promoting the event and also payment for the Nov 4th gallery unveiling, which includes an industry panel. We pay all the speakers on the industry panel.

Also, we care a lot about “user experience” — we wanted to make the gallery easy for agents, editors, and art directors to use. I.e., we want them to visit the gallery and find creators to work with!

We paid our web developer Jill to create a gallery that is specifically optimized for the needs of kidlit professionals.

For Even More Details…

KCU became a public benefit corporation last year, so we are committed to transparency. This blog post is last year’s annual report, and includes a link to our full 2022 financials.

We’ll be releasing our 2023 annual report and financials in early 2024.

If you have any questions about KCU and “money stuff,” please let us know!

Options for those that can’t afford the full Pitchfest price

We are offering a few options for individuals who can’t afford the full cost:

  1. Students may purchase a ticket at 50% off the full ticket price. This is done on the honor system. Please use the following definition when purchasing a student ticket:

    Student: A full-time student at the undergraduate or graduate level at the time of the Pitchfest competition.
  2. Those who would experience financial difficulty in purchasing a full price ticket may purchase a ticket at 50% off the full ticket price. This is done on the honor system.
  3. For our international entries, please email us for international parity pricing at hello@kidscomicsunite.com
  4. If the price of entry at any level is a hardship for you, please contact us at hello@kidscomicsunite.com. We don’t want anyone to be unable to submit because of lack of funds.

How you can support us!

There are so many ways you can help support Pitchfest and help support those who can’t afford the ticket price.

  1. If you are financially able, pay the full ticket price for your Pitchfest entry.
  2. If you are not entering Pitchfest, but want to support us, please considering purchasing a ticket to the Industry Panel on November 4th.
  3. Share the Pitchfest event (and gallery) with others!!! The more we spread the word, the more successful this event will be. You can share this event by sharing the link to the event: https://kidscomicsunite.com/kcu-pitchfest-2023/

    Please feel free to use the images below.

About Janna Morishima

Janna Morishima is the founder of Kids Comics Unite and a literary agent who specializes in graphic novels and visual storytelling. She started her publishing career at Scholastic, where she was one of the co-founders of the Graphix imprint. She then became director of the Kids Group for Diamond Book Distributors, where she worked with publishers such as Marvel, Dark Horse, and Oni Press, and helped launch Françoise Mouly’s Toon Books imprint. In addition to her background in publishing, she has worked as an associate producer for documentary films, and as an assistant teacher in a kindergarten and a teacher in a high school for teens in the juvenile justice system. She later launched and ran the NYC Department of Education’s “NYC Reads 365” literacy initiative.

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