My 2021 Submission Stats
Because getting published is a numbers game.
This was a really good year for me. With a few small exceptions, 2021 is the first time I really wrote, submitted, and published short humor. I wrote almost every day (especially from January — June), and I got pretty good incredibly quickly. But that wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t have the humanities degree, lifelong obsession with comedy, and time/money/energy necessary to immerse myself in this amazing community and read an enormous volume of humor writing.
I also received a ton of rejections, because getting published is a numbers game. And frankly, I’m burnt out and taking a few weeks off from writing. So here’s the more-or-less final breakdown for my 2021 submission stats in specific, excruciating detail:
McSweeney’s Internet Tendency — 38 submissions
- one early acceptance followed by many, many months of non-stop, soul-crushing rejections
- 4 acceptances came in August and September, interspersed between a few rejections with encouraging feedback
- when I pulled back on submitting so frequently, I started to have more success with the site
- timely pieces accepted elsewhere
My best and only advice for submitting to McSweeney’s is read the site and follow the Submissions Guidelines. (That goes for every site, but it’s especially important with McSweeney’s because of the high volume of submissions they receive.)
I still don’t really know if a piece will be accepted when I submit it, but I can always rest assured that I didn’t send them anything that explicitly goes against the guidelines.
Shouts & Murmurs — 2 submissions
- submitted directly to Emma in early May, sent a follow-up email to Rachel and Emma after ~6 months, received a tiered rejection the next day from Rachel AND a tiered rejection from Emma with encouragement to keep submitting to her about a week later (two rejections for the same piece never felt so good!!!)
- submitted in late November and don’t expect to hear back until 2022
The Onion — TBD
I was accepted to participate in the Diverse As Fuck x The Onion workshop this fall, which was followed by Evergreen Headline and Features pretrials. If I pass the pretrial phase, then I’ll get to participate in the 4-week trials to determine whether I’ll be a contributor. I probably won’t hear back about the pretrials until early 2022.
Reductress — 3 contributor packets
- I also submitted one packet in 2020, which was obviously rejected
The Hard Times — probably ~70ish headline pitches
- 6 published with my byline
- 1 published with generic site byline
- 1 killed
- 1 in queue
Everyone pitches headlines willy-nilly* in the Slack group (formerly on Facebook), so it’s hard to know how many headlines I’ve pitched this year. But it took me several tries over the past 18 months to get accepted as a contributor.
*willy-nilly is famously an extremely punk phrase
SmokeLong Quarterly Comedy Competition — 5 pieces
- all 5 rejections were swift and unceremonious (lolsob)
Slackjaw — 20 submissions
- I didn’t get my first acceptance until mid-April (after 8 frustrating rejections)
- one of these acceptances was my Slackjaw Humor Writing Challenge piece, which came in 10th place out of 482:
QUIZ: Is This A Quote From My 5-Year-Old Or An Old Timey Expression That Fell Out Of Style?
Tyler is in his Don Rickles phase right now.
- received all but one rejection before May
Slackjaw was so fucking frustrating for me because it felt like I was stuck getting rejections forever. I read the site and all the editors’ advice, and I truly thought I was submitting material that worked for their audience and extremely premise-focused mission. In retrospect, I understand why I got most of those rejections, and it’s a solid reminder that progress comes with time and hard work.
(Side note: Go read everything Slackjaw editor Sarah James writes, because she has a great backlog of advice and short humor pieces on Medium.)
Points in Case — 19 submissions
- 2 monologues
- 4 lists
- timely pieces accepted elsewhere
- not included in submissions total
Points in Case helped something click for me about halfway through the year. Several pieces that were rejected elsewhere were accepted by PIC, and almost all of my rejected PIC submissions were immediately and enthusiastically accepted by other sites. That helped me really internalize that piece of wisdom every writer hears but rarely believes: rejections genuinely aren’t personal, and they almost always have more to do with the specific interests of the editors/publications than the writing itself.
The Belladonna — 17 submissions, 1 editorship
- 7 submitted before I became Managing Editor— ie, through the normal submission process
- 7 submitted after I became Managing Editor — ie, sent directly to the founding editors for edits/approval
- all 3 submitted before the editorship
Words can’t describe how much I love The Belladonna and its community. Everyone is so supportive and hilarious, and I’m incredibly grateful that Brooke Preston & Fiona Taylor asked me to joined the current Managing Editor cohort.
Flexx Mag — 8 headline pitches
- the editor’s emails go to my spam folder, so I almost missed some of those acceptances
2 Ho Ho Ho’s — 1 submission
One of my good friends, Gracie Beaver-Kairis, is half of the 2H editing team. You should read everything she writes, because it’s all hilarious. Gracie is the best. (The other editor, Catherine Weingarten, is also incredibly talented and funny, and she won an honorable mention in this year’s Slackjaw Challenge. Check her out too!!!)
Widget — 1 pitch packet
Widget has a great mission and pays writers really well, but it’s sadly closed until the editors get more grant funding for the site.
Jane Austen’s Wastebasket — 8 submissions
- all illustrated pieces
- both were written pieces submitted early in the year
Holy shit, what can I say about Kyrie Gray that Medium didn’t already say when she was their featured creator last month? But seriously, she’s amazing. She’s an absolute BEAST with volume, runs a terrific humor publication, and is a great resource for new and veteran humor writers alike. Follow her immediately.
Funny-ish — 1 submission
A former Belladonna editor, Hello There Xu, is the current editor of Funny-ish. She’s so funny, friendly, and supportive, and I highly recommend following her work and submitting to Funny-ish!
Greener Pastures — 4 submissions
- timely piece accepted elsewhere
The Greener Pastures crew is another incredibly supportive writing community with a great editing team. They also have a podcast, which I highly recommend (especially for people new to humor writing). Check out their Chris Monks interview if you’re interested in submitting to McSweeney’s!
The Haven — 5 submissions
- my most read Medium piece of 2021 was published on The Haven (15.5k views):
A Bot Writes an Episode of The Sopranos
CARMELA: “Tony, there’s an FBI agent at the door.” TONY jumps into the pool. TONY jumps out of the pool.
The Haven accepts pretty much every piece that follows the submission guidelines. That’s not a bad thing, but it means there’s a range of quality on the site. I send my silly little pieces to The Haven when I don’t think they’d be a good fit for any other site, and that system works well for me.
Little Old Lady — 1 submission
- timely piece accepted elsewhere
DNAtured — 1 contributor packet
The Boston Accent — 1 submission
TBA is one of the few humor pubs I submitted to before 2021, and the only one I was published in until this year. The editor, Justin Kaplan, is really great at collaborative editing, and I highly suggest submitting to them if you want to write satirical news.
JumpKick Funding — 1 contributor packet
1 acceptance (sort of)
- one of my fellow contributors at The Hard Times, Erin McLaughlin, started this hilarious site. she added me as a contributor a few months after my initial rejection because she liked my writing for The Hard Times.
JumpKick is one of my favorite Instagram accounts. Follow them immediately.
Humor Darling — 2 submissions
1 acceptance with edits
- unfortunately, life got in the way and I never did make those edits, so it remains unpublished (for now)
- I submitted a contributor packet in January, which was rejected
The Philadelphia Satirer — 1 contributor packet
2 headline acceptances
- remember what I said about life getting in the way? yeah… sorry, TPS! (they were very understanding)
TwoFiftyOne — 2 submissions
HornRimmer — 1 submission
Weekly Humorist — 1 submission
1 rejection (presumed)
- I followed up on my submission and never heard back, so I submitted the piece elsewhere
Here’s a secret: Medium doesn’t pay writers well! If you enjoyed any of my writing this year and want to throw a little extra 💲financial support💲 my way, my Venmo is @Alice-Lahoda and my PayPal is @alicelahoda. You can also support my writing with a Medium membership, which will give you full access to every story on the site. (Make sure you sign up through this link!) All your support is incredibly appreciated!!!