Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Look Behind The Book

I’m currently in the midst of writing a second book on the animation industry for Allworth Press, this time on the ins and outs of pitching and development. My first book, Your Career in Animation: How to Survive and Thrive (May 2006), was a pretty big ordeal to write. Lack of time turned out to be my worst enemy. This time around, it’s largely the same old story, but at least I now know how long it takes to write a book and am able to budget my time a little smarter.

I’m very pleased with how the first book has been received by reviewers and by the industry. It was truly an odd thing to get a book deal in the first place. By 2004, I’d been pitching animated series ideas for eight years, without success. But, I’ve learned that success is a relative term. It’s possible to have all your ideas rejected and still be inching ever closer towards your goal. Very slowly, over time, I was improving as a writer and a salesman, which is what pitchers have to be in equal parts.

I thought I’d use this week’s blog entry to share the original pitch letter that sold my first book. I remember making 12 drafts of this two-page letter over a period of a couple of weeks. Some of the content of this letter made it into press materials for the book and some even snuck into the introduction chapter itself.

Please forgive any self-aggrandizing statements in the letter below. As a pitch document, the letter had to prove not only the need for such a book, but my own qualifications to write it. Also, note the different working-title of the book. Gosh, what a mouth-full! Some of you may find some of the letter’s content familiar because some of it found its way into the introduction chapter and other bits snuck into the press materials. I hope you get a chance to check out the final book that sprung from this pitch, Your Career in Animation: How to Survive and Thrive. For the best price, I recommend picking up a copy on

And now, here's the original pitch letter. Enjoy!


David B. Levy

How To Stretch and Squash Your Way Into A Career In Animation is as much for those with hopes of entering the field of commercial animation as it is an industry survival guide for those already working. Whether one wants advice on how to land one's first job or is seeking ways to advance one's current career, the answers and inspiration are here.

The animation industry is a billion-dollar worldwide business. It's hard to imagine a day where you don't find yourself confronted by an image of SpongeBob SquarePants, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny or The Simpsons. Although animation dates back to the birth of film, it continues to evolve as evidenced by the recent groundbreaking CGI successes of Pixar's Monster's Inc. and Dream Works' Shrek. Scads of books abound on how those films and your favorite animated TV shows are made. DVD commentary tracks regularly give us the voices of directors as they break down their creations. The curtain has been lifted and would-be animators now have more access to technical information than ever before.

Despite this flood of information, crucial questions about the animation business remain unexplored:

-How do you begin a career in animation?
-What kind of portfolio or reel do you need?
-How do you meet the local community of animators?

Likewise, those already working may be asking:

-How do you ensure that your skills stay marketable for years to come?
-What can you do to network more effectively?
- How do you make the leap from working for others to pitching and selling a show of your own or going into business for yourself?

No single book has ever sought to focus on these important topics...until now.

Utilizing interviews with those at the top of the industry, How To Stretch... will offer up answers, advice and personal anecdotes on all those questions and more. Best of all, my ten years (and counting) experience working in the animation industry ensures that this book is written from an insider's perspective. I have worked as a freelancer and as a staff employee on such projects as TV series, industrials, commercials, pilots and independent films. The genres have run the gamut from preschool to kids to adult. In ten years, I've enjoyed steady employment and weathered layoffs during slower periods of the economy. Since graduating from the School of Visual Arts (SVA), I've produced an award winning short independent film nearly every year. As a director, I have been in competition in the largest Animation festival in the world, the Annecy International Animated Film Festival. In my role as President of Asifa-East (The New York chapter of the Association Internationale du Film d'Animation), I am responsible for leading and organizing monthly events, screenings, newsletters and an annual festival for the New York community of animators. I have done a series of lectures on how to build a successful career in animation at New York University (NYU), and I am presently teaching a class at SVA called Animation Career Strategy.

This book will also function as a resource by listing contact information for animation schools, societies, unions, film festivals, studios, websites, books, and magazines.

How To Stretch and Squash Your Way Into A Career In Animation will entertainingly educate and enlighten the reader on key subjects essential to achieving success in the field.


Cometslight said...

What a great look at the behind the scenes of your book, I think this would make an excellent exmaple for your new book.

By the way, not sure if I've said this before, but I really like your first book not only as a student, but as an animator as well, I'll always look at it for future guidance.

David B. Levy said...

Thanks so much! That makes my day. Cheers to you and your own journey!