Friday, September 15, 2006

Guess What? I'm a Comedienne!

I am working on getting published for the first time, but I'm having difficulty in figuring out how to query articles that are humorous. Some of my articles would be both informative and humorous, while others are basically humorous essays. Do you have any suggestions? I know that the query process will be the same as for non-humorous articles, but how do I pitch ideas for articles and say "hey, this is funny"? This seems to be a special case, to me.

Here's the thing: it's not really a special case, not if you've done your homework.

First off, if you're querying a humor piece, I'll assume that you're querying the right editor. And by that I mean the editor who oversees the humor column or whatever column it is that you think your idea is right for. So if you're querying the right editor/column, he'll already know that this is supposed to be a chuckle-a-minute story.

Second of all, you convey that it's a humor piece by the tone of your query. I've said this in the past, but pitches aren't there just to impart information on the potential article to the editor, they're there to give the editor a sense of your writing style and voice. And this is particularly important with a humor piece. After all, humor is totally subjective (i.e, my husband loves Ali G, while I've never sat through a more grating 22-minutes in my lifetime), and the editor is going to want to assess whether or not he finds you funny, not just take your word for it that you find yourself hilarious. Make sense? Therefore, I'd write your query in the same voice that you'd write the piece itself in. Let the editor see how you'll bust his gut, and you won't have to sound the alarm that "this is a humor piece."

That said, after your initial paragraph or two, you certainly can sum up the proposed story and mention that it's for a humor column. For example, you might want to say, "Tickling My Funny Bone would be a light-hearted, poignant yet funny essay on how my doctor operated on the wrong side of my brain." Or whatever. The editor will get the point.

Any humor experts out there want to weigh in?