Wednesday’s Work-in-Progress: Where to Read (and Publish) Literary Humor?

laughingSo, this past week brought a minor milestone to my writing life: my first submission to The New Yorker‘s “Shouts & Murmurs” department.

I would call the piece that I submitted an example of “literary humor.” I would do so because I can’t quite figure out a better label for it: it’s a short (450-word) piece that essentially brings a 19th-century novel’s character into the present. That’s about all I want to say about it right now.

I submitted the piece via the magazine’s online submission manager, and quickly received an auto-response acknowledging receipt and stating that I “should receive a reply within three months.”

In the meantime, I’m trying to build a list of other possible homes for this piece. You know, just in case The New Yorker declines to publish it.

I’m thinking that McSweeney’s might like it. But I’m not sure that I regularly read a whole lot of work like this in too many other venues. (There’s the Writer’s Digest “Reject a Hit” feature, but this piece doesn’t fit there.)

What say you, fellow practicing writers? Where do you read literary humor (and maybe submit that sort of work yourself)? I’d love to know.

4 thoughts on “Wednesday’s Work-in-Progress: Where to Read (and Publish) Literary Humor?

  1. Jo says:

    The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut has launched The “Royal Nonesuch” Humor Writing Contest. The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2014. There are two categories of submissions, one for writers under 18 and one for 18 and over. The judges include MTHM staff, faculty from Trinity College, and celebrity judges Roy Blount, Jr., Colin McEnroe, and Lucy Ferris (for the 18-and-over submissions), and Tim Federle and Jessica Lawson for the under-18 submissions. The submission fee for the 18-and-over group is $22. First prize (prizes will be awarded in each category) is $1,000. More details are available at their website ( and on their Submittable page (

    The only problem I see is that you’re going to have to decide whether to submit to the Twain House before The New Yorker’s three months are up. Decisions, decisions. . . .

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Thanks, Jo! Other problem: Justifying a $22 sub fee for a piece that is 450 words long and unlikely to win a first prize…but I’m glad to have the info.

      1. Jo says:

        Have faith! If it’s good enough for The New Yorker, it’s good enough for the Mark Twain House.

        Besides, there’s also money for the second and third prizes, albeit not as much ($500 and $250, respectively). After that, the honorable mentions get a gift certificate to the Twain House store which, while it’s nice enough, is more appealing if you’re local and can go to the store since there’s a lot there that’s not on the website, such as books for sale at author events. (Also, paying $22 to get a $100 gift certificate doesn’t make a lot of sense–that’s more like a charitable contribution than anything else.)

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