Excerpt – How to Write and Share Humor: Techniques to Tickle Funny Bones and Win Fans

It has been pointed out to me that I have not excerpted my book How to Write and Share Humor: Techniques to Tickle Funny Bones and Win Fans.  So, here is a short excerpt. Thanks all for your support and look for our #SummerofHumor World Tour which is now underway and will include cities and towns in the US, Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, France and Spain. This book has gas and is ready to go. The photos are hysterical and downright amazing! Please also remember that the proceeds go back to HO. I was considering a crowd-funding campaign, but this seemed like so much more fun. So if you can, buy a book and help a humor writer achieve his or her dream!  HowToWriteHumor(final2



A show of hands: Who remembers the days when you would send a pitch letter or query to a magazine editor and then wait anxiously six to eight weeks for a response? If you do remember this process, give yourself a round of applause because you have paid your writing dues more than most.

Today’s writing world is such a different animal from the “pre-internet” days. Back in olden times, rejection letters held no shame. I, myself, would tape them  onto my office wall and use them as inspiration to become a better writer.  I will admit that some of these letters, which came via snail mail, made me chuckle.  My favorite was from an editor who wrote to tell me he was going to call me so he could tell me via phone why my essay stunk.  Yes, apparently shooting me down through the US Post Office was not sufficient. To be fair to this man, he did indeed call, and he rejected me because he considered humor to be nothing but a mixture of “fluff and stupid,” and he was disappointed that a former journalist would debase herself by writing such unimportant material.

Now, some people might have become upset by that rejection, but not me. I entered this experience into a contest whose theme was “WORST REJECTION LETTER EVER,” and I won second place. I cannot even imagine who won the top prize.  I didn’t win money, but I did win a t-shirt screen printed with the words “Rejected Writer.” Yep, that is the God’s honest truth. If I sponsored that contest, I would have taken a more optimistic approach and sent out a t-shirt that read “Amazing Writer in Progress,” but I’m a glass-half-full person.

The world of writing is not all about rejection. However, if you contemplate jumping off a bridge each time you do get rejected, I would suggest you pursue another line of work or hobby. I will admit that there is no better feeling than having an editor tell you that your article or essay has been accepted. That is a champagne-popping moment. And it makes all the rejections seem so not important.

Even today, I still get rejection letters or emails. They don’t faze me anymore. It’s part of the game in my view.  And truth be told, I deliver rejections now. HumorOutcasts.com is a submission acceptance site. I or Betsy—and if you don’t know the truth about Betsy, go back to the introduction—audition writers and their work. The reason for this is that I promote HO writers extensively, and I cannot do that if I allow everyone to post.  I also think knowing a site is not a “gimme” inspires writers to bring their best work—or for those who enjoy sports metaphors—their “A” game.

I know some might deem the next part of this sentence as new-agey or a bit on the La-La side, but I think the Universe makes room for all writers. We might not all be bestselling authors or syndicated columnists on the Erma Bombeck scale, but our work does get seen. And the reason for this is that there is an audience for humor; people crave it, so let’s do our best to get it out there, and now I want to show you how.

The first question I ask writers when they tell me they want to “put forth their work” is this: what do you hope to accomplish? Are you looking for money?  Honestly, writing is not the best field for you if that is your number one answer. Most writers I know don’t smell of cash; they barely smell of pennies. But it could happen. You could hit it big and write the humor version of War and Peace.

If money is not your thing, is it fame? I know many writers who believe they are going to rock Hollywood with their humor magic. Again, it might just happen. I am here to support dreams not deny them.  The reason I ask writers about their goals is to guide them about what they can do to get their work noticed.  There is NO right or wrong answer for what you want to gain from your writing. No one should ever judge your ambitions; they are yours and yours alone, and I say good for you and keep working toward them.

I know this section of the book is entitled “Blogging, Books and Beyond,” but before I get into the blogging part, I want to tackle traditional print media and magazines. There are still wonderful publications out there although they are a lot thinner than they used to be, so getting picked up by them is more of a challenge. Some still look for outside writers for humorous true stories that fit their demographic. So, how do you get them to notice your work…

 How to Write and Share Humor: Techniques to Tickle Funny Bones and Win Fans is published by HOPress-Shorehouse Books and available as paperback or Kindle on Amazon.com and at other fine retailers.  

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29 thoughts on “Excerpt – How to Write and Share Humor: Techniques to Tickle Funny Bones and Win Fans”

  1. I been reading a lot of writing books lately (mostly as a way to avoid writing myself.) Donna’s book is one of the most encouraging I’ve seen. Great tips for craft and reaching readers.

  2. Tell Bill Y what he has to do, to get one of those “Rejected Writer” t-shirts and consider it done, Don Don’s.

  3. I went through that constant rejection thing when I was still trying to be a full-time opera singer — along with occasional acceptances, which made the whole process worthwhile. I still have the scars on my ego.

    So now I’m trying to be a writer, and I have chosen humor as my genre because that is the one that resonates in my being. I must be a glutton for punishment. When I tell people that I am a writer, their faces light up. When I then tell them that I write humor, I get a look best reserved for someone with leprosy, and the conversation is over.

    Thank you, Donna, for encouraging and helping me!

  4. Excellent! I have more rejection letters than I can even count. And I really miss seeing my essays in print. But..the world moves on and so must we. You are one very funny lady!

  5. Excellent advice! I have a big folder of rejection letters I began collecting more than 20 years ago. I kind of wish editors and agents still sent hardcopies instead of just email rejections so I can keep the collection going. 😀 Though I suppose I could print out the emailed ones now.

    That said, acceptance letters would be SO much more exciting to collect.

  6. You give me inspiration to collect rejections, Donna. When my son was a teen he had a ‘wall of shame’ in his bedroom. It included a bounced check, a couple or three speeding tickets and a poor grade on a Latin exam. I think I’ll start my own wall of shame only I’ll call it my wall of bravery and start posting all my rejections! If only one person reads my material and laughs it is worth it but of course every writer wants to be read. I am a big fan of your book and your mission to promote humor writing to a world that sorely needs to laugh.

  7. If you can’t take rejection, never become a writer!
    It’s funny. I’m finding that my rejection letters are just as plentiful, but lately, they have become more . . . is positive a word for a rejection letter? They have. “No, we don’t want to publish your manuscript, but we love your book and think you should pursue other publishers!” Is this a new thing? Talk about letting one down easy!
    Loved this excerpt, Donna!

    1. I agree. I think those who need to do the rejecting know that the new age of writers are not as resilient. They feel guilty. LOL Thanks so much for reading Diane!

  8. My philosophy has always been get out there and see how many NO’s you can get. Never give up or you’ll miss that big YES! Lots of knowledgeable information in your book Donna! Great job and thank you for giving us a place to write and create humor. The world truly needs it right now!

  9. Always good advice. And yes, those print publications ARE thinner and thinner. Which is a shame for those of us who loved them so much.

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