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:
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