Thursday, August 9, 2012

For Writers

Humor Sells

“Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.”

If you guessed the above quote to be from Will Rogers you’d be correct. Our friend Will was extremely popular with the American people back in the 1930’s. And isn’t it uncanny that we can relate to his witty observation today? Good humor is like that - timeless. And it will always sell because people, whatever their circumstance, love to laugh. As writers it’s in our very best interest to be mindful of that, and we should attempt to infuse our material with a tickle or two whenever we can.

Short Pieces

The market continues to grow for short humorous pieces or essays. For instance, there’s a constant need for them by varied publishers like Chicken Soup, Funny Times, and Woman’s World. Two of my own sales come to mind where I used a humorous point of view. In one I employed cart loads of humor to describe my disastrous attempt at huckleberry growing; in the other I tell of a Lassie-like episode with our dog, Libby, and my husband who was stuck on the barn roof. I’m pretty sure the comedic element helped sell both stories.

I once saved a half column essay I found in the back of the AARP Bulletin because the writer told of his response to his wife’s request to empty the trash with a unique and funny twist. His topic was death but the way he tangled it up with refusing to take out the garbage was hilarious.
 
Anecdotes

Reader’s Digest, Woman’s World, The Lutheran and many others love little bits of humor to fill holes in their pages. You want to bet how many readers head to those pages first? In our hustle and bustle world it may be the only thing that brightens someone’s afternoon. Think of all the funny little things that happen to you every day. I have six grandchildren and that right there is a deep pool I can draw from daily – sometimes hourly. Woman’s World has a back page with a segment titled Was my face red! This is where a grandchild anecdote becomes a perfect fit to the tune of 60 -70 words. Kids Say the Cutest Things is also on this page and every parent who’s cracked up at their kids antics can have a shot here.

Columns

Dave Barry and the late Erma Bombeck had pretty good gigs with their syndicated humor columns. Maybe this is an area where you can shine, too. And you’re thinking, oh, yeah, I’ll just become a prize winning syndicated humor columnist – that’ll happen. Come on; rearrange your thinking a little, here. For example, in the rural area where I live there are two small publications. Each has a columnist who regularly uses their hot glue guns of humor to enliven their columns. Okay, maybe they say it better than that, but you get the idea. Try approaching your local editor with a funky name for your column—like—well, I can’t think of anything right now, but I’m sure you will. Go in with samples. Also go online and check out Jason Love or Sister Myotis whose ideas on thong panties will have the tears of laughter running down your leg (check You Tube). Your hankering to have a column and your wacky sense of humor could be the marriage made in heaven that answers your local editor’s prayers. It could also be the road to national prominence. I mean, the next Dave Barry has to come from somewhere.

If you’re pretty sure you’ve been blessed with the humor gene for heaven’s sake use it to liven up whatever it is you write. From greeting cards to children’s stories to novels, there’s almost no area of writing where humor can’t be incorporated. Okay, maybe the US Tax Code, but other than that—funny wins. The only words of caution I would offer are the same ones writers get all the time. Know your target publication. You don’t want to write a goofy kids poem and send it to Mad Magazine. You don’t want to send your teenage boy gross-but-funny story to Highlights. Get the picture? Will Rogers would have and so do you, I suspect. The following markets show the diversity of publications that appreciate a humorous touch.

Reader’s Digest – Pays $100 – 300 http://www.rd.com/submit-joke/
 
Chicken Soup – Pays $200 per story http://www.chickensoup.com/cs.asp?cid=guidelines

Funny Times – Pays $25-40 for cartoons $60 for stories http://www.funnytimes.com/submissions.php

Sasee – Pays ten cents per word http://sasee.com/submissions/  

Woman’s World – Pays $50 for Was my face red! and Kids Say the Cutes Things
Send to: Love and Laughter! Woman’s World, 270 Sylvan Ave, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632

Oatmeal Studio – Pays $75 per idea http://www.oatmealstudios.com/Writer'sGuides/WG-Pg.htm    

Grand Magazine – Payment varies http://www.grandmagazine.com/article.asp?id=151

I hope you find some value and inspiration in this post. I know there is a funny bone inside every writer so get yours out and use it - even if you have to whack it on the counter to get it going!


Image: Free Digital Photos 



6 comments:

  1. I do find value and, as always, love your inspiration for writers. Plus I do have a very active funny bone. Thanks for your words!

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  2. Cindy, I try to stay out of trouble when my funny bone gets whacked, but most of the time it's a great tension reliever. Thanks so much for coming over and commenting!

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  3. Susan:

    I've been told I can be humorous, and it's good to know how many publications appreciate a humorous tickle in their pages!

    I enjoyed this post. You offer smart, useful advice, and I appreciate your suggestions. :-)

    Have a beautiful Sunday!

    ~Janette

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  4. Janette,
    Thanks - it's so nice to know you find value here. Humor tends to be subjective, but I've found some nice niches for it and hopefully so will you.

    Blessed Sunday back!

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  5. Jennifer Brown BanksAugust 13, 2012 at 5:24 AM

    Sue,

    I enjoyed this post. I'm a big fan of Erma Bombeck, and have a few of her titles in my library---we should all be so lucky to be that funny, right? :-) Good leads. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Jen - There will never be another Erma, she had something special. Glad you enjoyed!

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