It’s hard to believe I have been at this humor blog for more than 25 years. That may be in part because it’s actually been less than ten. See what I just did? I made a joke. Didn’t find it funny? Join the club. That’s been the reaction so far from just about every newspaper, magazine and online news site in response to my submissions of humor articles over the past year.
I have reached out to publications ranging from The Huffington Post to Field and Stream, and have pretty much received the same response: Who are you and how did you get my email address?
Over the history of this weekly humor blog, I have commented on everything from how to become a Tiger Mother parent to my fleeting friendship with an internet scammer; from my recent colonoscopy to my solution for the US debt crisis; from how the iPad compares to Jesus Christ to my exploration of why the state of Montana hates me. And there is one thing all of these brilliant pieces of satire have in common: NO PUBLICATION WANTS MY MATERIAL.
I’ve been collecting a list of reasons publications have given for rejecting my humor submissions. Below is just a sampling of some of the more common responses:
- We are only looking for local content – Do you have any current writing samples about Knoxville / Sioux Falls / Waukesha / Tallahassee / Burlington / Fresno / Buffalo / Spartanburg / Abilene / Little Rock …… (Answer: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, and no.)
- We are only looking for content that deals with health issues – Have you written any articles about acupuncture psoriasis cures? (Let me think….No.)
- We are only looking for content about gardening – Can you do a piece on what’s new in trellises for this spring? (While tempting, I’m going to have to pass.)
- We only write about nutrition – Have you got anything we could use about the debate around omega-3 supplements? (Let me check my pockets… Nope.)
- We only write about aerospace – Can you do a profile on the most effective rocket propellants for deep space exploration? (Sorry. I’ll forward your request to Buzz Aldrin.)
I even tried to showcase my humor-writing style in my cover email message: With no offense intended, I found hardly any misguided advice columns anywhere in your publication. No one is more qualified to fill that void than I. [Insert the sound of crickets here > < ]
I have come to realize that despite my ability to comment on a wide-ranging list of topics from vuvuzela horns to WikiLeaks, most news publications are only interested in hyper-local news content, such as what to do about the city council’s plans to add parking meters on DuPont Street. Who has space for a humor column when there is a breaking story about the raging debate over whether to add two snow days to the school calendar next year?
So, to simplify the process moving forward, I have crafted a standardized form rejection email response to save editors the precious eleven seconds required to craft their nine-word “no thanks” reply. I plan to attach it to my inquiry email for their convenience. Tell me what you think:
EMAIL SUBJECT LINE: DEAR TIM JONES, WE HATE YOUR HUMOR.
Thank you, TIM JONES, for your recent inquiry, in which you offered to submit humor articles for our publication. Unfortunately at this time we are not able to consider your offer for the following reasons (check all that apply):
___ We only accept content that is written specifically about our community because we could give a rat’s ass about anything outside of a 15-mile radius of our brand new Wal-Mart.
___ We do not have enough space in our publication to add more content. Have you seen the spiraling cost of newsprint lately?
___ Oh, you meant our online edition? Well, have you seen the spiraling cost of online pixels lately?
___ We only accept content that is specifically related to the following incredibly boring special interest niche (check the appropriate box):
___ horticulture ___ bee keeping ___ the sport of cricket ___ model trains ___ spelunking ___ Linux computer programming
___ Other: Insert your publication’s narrow-niche, obscure, sleep-deprivation-curing focus here:
___ I have been the editor for this fleabag publication for the past 20 years and will be retiring next October. I couldn’t care less about your wise-ass humor column. I can’t believe I interrupted doing this week’s crossword puzzle for your email.
___ We do not have any need for columnists at the present time. Would you be interested in our high school internship program?
_√__ I wouldn’t recognize good humor writing if it jumped up and bit me on the ass (this box will come pre-checked)
In closing, TIM JONES, we will keep your letter and writing samples on file until such time as Hell freezes over. In the meantime, I wish you, TIM JONES, the very best of luck. What is it you do again?
[Insert name of heartless bastard editor here]
I plan to start using this immediately. I think it will save both me and editors lots of wasted time and effort. Feel free to customize this form letter and use it in your own job search.
But, hey, it’s not all been bad news. Just this week I received a very encouraging response – from our local high school’s student newspaper, Spartan Beat. The editor, 12th grader Kimberly Rindler, wrote back that she was VERY impressed by my body of work. She only had one question: Can you write a piece about how my ex-boyfriend Jason is a complete toad for asking out that skank Melissa Miller to next week’s Spring Formal?
I’m already halfway through writing the piece. It’s really coming together nicely. I think it’s up to Spartan Beat’s rigorous editorial standards. I just hope they don’t bury it in the classifieds section.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2012
I think you have a targeting problem. Have you tried submitting your pieces to Late Middle Aged Man-Child Self-Deprecating Satire Quarterly?
All kidding aside Tim, have you thought about writing a humor piece about a local issue and submitting it to just the local paper that would like to cover the topic? What is happening in the next month or two in your hometown you could find quirky.
There is a new show called Portlandia that is doing well at pointing out the quirky people and issues of Portland, OR.
I think after all of these years you should seriously consider the offer of the high school internship offer. It will put you ions ahead of the humor writing career where you are today.
Don’t blame me, Tim. I told you that you had a better chance of succeeding on the PGA Tour.
Tim, how about submitting to some Middle East publications? They can use a little humor over there. Or how about China? You would massively increase your audience–a stated goal of yours–and they would not know you are not funny because so many of them cannot read English. Seems like a win-win scenario.
This is great article, and I’m glad to see you sharing it with your readers.
This is not at all surprising… if local news had this sort of satire I would be racing out to the doorstep to fetch it… or read it online, or whatever it is people who read news do… I’ve been having a similar problem trying to write science pieces with humour… apparently science isn’t that funny, but I beg to differ… apparently you also can’t write about science stuff unless you have a lot of letters after your name… my community college marketing education doesn’t seem to be impressing science editors…
Anyway… I guess I can forget trying to query the women’s magazines with pieces like my “discussion of Attractiveness of Leg Length: Report From 27 Nations. Bite me.”… http://jumblednous.com/?p=13485 (I’ll bet if I added some sort of cellulite banishing technique it’d be a shoe-in.)
Ah well, look on the bright side… at least you have a blog that is read by more than three people…
One of my blog readers (one of said three, two are related to me) said my posts were like mozzarella sticks in a sea of kale or something along those lines (she appreciates a sense of humour)… you are definitely a mozzarella stick… with DIP even…
I think Will Rogers would have said this: “Tim Jones is a pretty darn good humorist, but he’d be even better if he could lasso a cow, which is no laughing matter.”
I THINK YOU ARE FUNNY TIM! I SHOULD KNOW, I AM A LOCAL HUMOR COLUMNIST FOR THE CHINO HILLS CHAMPION. I LEARNED ABOUT YOU BECAUSE MY SISTER HAS A LITTLE COMPOUND UP AT CAMANO. IT IS HARD TO WRITE FUNNY STUFF BUT YOU HAVE DONE AN EXCELLENT JOB OF KEEPING IT FUNNY… PERHAPS YOUR READERS DON’T HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR.
Hi Tim, Mark here, your very bestest friend from across the border…anyway, just read your latest diatr…uhmm.. excellent comedic piece and I am starting to feel real guilty…you are sounding like you are at wits end, ready to throw in the towel, give up the roost, say uncle, give in to the dark side, kick the bucket…enough….I need to confess, YOU ARE AN EXCELLENT COMEDIC WRITER and I have been taking credit. I know I should be assamed…also ´ashamed ´ I might add(thank-you lousy i-phone correct)…let me explain…after our first shared writing piece a few years back, l was contacted by The Guardian who wanted to do an interview piece on both of us. We talked fees and I said I would reach out to you…well I got greedy. I said something along the lines that I have been ghost -writing for you for the past several years seeing that you are in and out of rehab for a variety of societal ills (for which there must be many, I explained, stating that you were forcefully removed from Seattle and « exiled » on some little pacific coast island called ´Kkaa May-kno’ which I explained is indigenous barren rock in The Straight that is visited only by Orcas, bald eagles and a native species of Chihuahua). Seems even the best of the English journalistic society are extremely gullible or very lazy in doing their research…(painless Brexit anyone !!). Anyway, they agreed to accept responses to a written interview piece. Well I wrote-in your responses which were duller than a butterknife slicing tomates while I plagiarized other answers by watching a lot of Jimmy Fallon bits on Youtube . Long story short, The Guardian interview lead to others with Le Monde, Jerusalem Post, China Today, Das Bilde, Soviétika Komecka, The New Dehli Deli Lunch-Counter Courier, The Johannesberg Post Gazette, Sydney Times. Anyway, I have been just re-hashing your old stuff and they love me.. I mean you…I have been meaning to tell you but I have been very busy with interviews, wealth investing, bidding on buying my own Bahaminian island and new Ultra- Catamaran ,etc …to care…I mean…to call you and let you know that you are actually a great comedic writer…outside of the US of eh! So why am I telling you only now?! Well I thought it was time to give your identity back…especially after I have trashed it over the last couple of months. You see I kinda over-promoted myself now yourself as being a great ghost-writer and that got to the ears of The AG. Yes Mr. Barr’s 4-page ‘summary’ of The D’s innocence was all me… I mean you. Hey they paid you ( I now mean me) really, really, REALLY well. But now that The Nance smells blood and is pissed, everyone in POTUS is running scared again so….as your very bestest if friends I thought you would no doubt want to come to mu rescue and hold that steaming bag of chihuahua dung while I return to my Catamaran. Sound okay? Thanks your a bud. And keep it up…I am sure The Pawtucet Pioneer will be publishing you soon. Toute a l’heure Mon Ami!!
Perhaps you could try producing a print humor magazine. You could call it something like, let’s see, Furious. Or Irate. Wrathful. Maybe Insane or Demented or Unhinged, I know. Mad.
I subscribe to Kayak Angler magazine. No shit, I really do. Don’t know why I mentioned that, but I don’t think they’ll think you’re funny.
This is wonderful!! They’re stupid. That’s why they don’t want your stuff! 🙂 I sent a bunch of things to a particular supposedly funny magazine long and every one was rejected. So I finally included an easy reply card something like this–“for your convenience.” Apparently they didn’t find the humor in that either. 🙂