Q: I'm thinking about starting my own comic strip, and I was wondering how I would go about getting it into your paper, on average how much you pay each cartoonist (if possible), and anything else I may need to know.
A: Jim, you have company.
Many people would like to get their comics published. Few succeed. One reason is that very few newspapers have their own comic strip artists. They buy almost all their comics from syndicates, which sell to dozens and hoped-for hundreds of newspapers. With so many papers buying a strip, the price for each paper comes down considerably. It can be as little as $10 a strip, depending on the circulation of the paper. The bigger the paper, the higher the price. The price can be so low that some newspapers will buy strips they don't even publish, just to keep them out of the competing newspaper. On the artist's end, though, $10 to perhaps $50 a strip times 500 newspapers will make for a good income, even leaving for all the money that goes to the syndicating company. (The names of the syndicates often appear in microscopic type between the panels of the strip.)
For individual artists, becoming syndicated is tough. Essentially, you have to persuade a syndicate that your strip is better than one they're already trying to sell. They seldom just add a strip to the sales person's suitcase. They make room for one by dropping another artist's.
Even Charles Schulz, who became a sensation with his semi-autobiographical "Peanuts," was rejected by many syndicates -- and even his own high school yearbook.