How to Submit to Satire Sites
By Rob Walker
I’ve had a few friends reach out to me about submitting humor work to satire sites and what that looks like. Rather than continue to compose emails about the process, I thought it might be an interesting read for some of you here on Patreon. This request is usually responded to by a rambling email with tons of links and a picture or two of my spreadsheets. Rather than continue to send out these scattershot emails, I thought it might be useful to gather the information in a cohesive way for those who may want to write and submit satire. Off we go!
READ THIS FIRST!
Writing is difficult and you will fail.
I have submitted hundreds of headlines, lists, jokes, full articles etc. to humor outlets since I started doing this and I get rejected constantly. I receive at least one formal rejection a week and most of my rejections come in the form of cricket sounds when I pitch Hard Times headlines. Sometimes you get one through, mostly you don’t.
I started writing and submitting humor on a regular basis by submitting to McSweeney’s once a week for a year. To date, I’ve never been published in McSweeney’s. However, constant professional rejection taught me these two things:
No one will yell or make fun of you. They receive hundreds of these a day. You’re not special enough to get yelled at or made fun of.
There are other fish in the sea.
After a year of getting rejected by McSweeney’s, I took a serious look at who else was accepting submissions and came up with a list. Then I paid close attention to the style and turnaround time for rejection. That’s when I developed Rob’s Sluice-box of Rejection (the spreadsheet I mentioned before. See Below).
If McSweeney’s had a one-week turnaround, that meant that I could submit that rejected work to someone else, thus creating a funnel of work, because it may not be right for one outlet, but it might be perfect for another. A lot of my rejected McSweeney’s work got picked up elsewhere...a lot of it didn’t. And that’s when I really learned the third thing:
Most of what you write is shit.
BUT...if you write and submit on a regular basis, by sheer law of averages, you will end up with some work that will be great, some that can be rewritten or repitched and turned into something great, and some that is just bad. And that’s okay.
So if you’re still interested in writing humor for the internet, know that it’s hard to break in. But if you continue to write, submit (which will help you get over rejection), I have no reason to think that you can’t get published at least once.
Whew! Now here comes the list of useful sites, how the process works, whether or not they pay, etc. Onward and upward!
The Hard Times is a bit tricky to submit to. They only do email submissions to start and only for headlines (7 in Hard Times Voice, 3 in Hard Style voice - Opinion) Or you can submit to The Hard Drive their video game wing (5 headlines)
You can see their submission guidelines HERE.
If they like the submissions, they'll contact you, send you a contract and add you to the writer's room. Full disclosure, it took me 6 months to a year of pitching to them via email before I got one though and I still don't know which one it was that caught their attention.
However, HT is one of the better sites to work for because if you get a headline chosen, their rates are great (for this kind of work) and they always pay on time as soon as the piece goes live.
Below are a few other sites that I have had luck with:
Little Old Lady Comedy: (They don't pay but are very encouraging and are well known.)
The Weekly Humorist: These folks accept full articles and lists as well. They also pay.
Robot Butt: I love these guys for their fake George Lucas account.
Below are ones that I have not had luck with or have submitted to for reasons of content.
McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: One of the best sites for satire on the internet. They pay and their turnaround for rejection is really fast- One week for three lists OR a single article. AND THEY PAY!
The New Yorker: This is the Holy Grail of high-brow satire. I know and have worked with writers who have gotten a piece published here, so it is possible, but the bar is very high. This blog explains the process for submitting. It is also worth noting that the notification process is three months from the time you submit to when they tell you whether or no they want your work.
The Reductress: Super-famous, super-popular women’s magazine satire. This is one of the biggies. Their writer’s room seems to be closed for submissions right now, but keep checking back.
The American Bystander: The heir apparent to the National Lampoon Magazine. This is a real quarterly humor magazine published in the style of the old Lampoon publications. They have a mix of stories, poetry, comics, lists. This is really a great outlet.
MAD Magazine: RIP
There are a ton of others out there, but these are the big ones. I hope this is helpful to those of you who are interested in this kind of thing. If you have any questions, as always, let me know.
Former Funeral DJ. Failed Birthday Magician. Future Ghost