If you’re looking for instructions on submitting cartoons to the New Yorker, then you already know it’s one of the best markets for gag cartoonists. Whether or not you like their voice, it pays to have a cartoon published in the New Yorker–not just a nice check, but a sense of recognition and bragging rights… lots and lots of bragging rights.
This is the ultimate step-by-step guide to submitting gag cartoons to the New Yorker.
1. Before You Submit Cartoons
The New Yorker buys first rights for black and white gag cartoons. Gag cartoons are single-panel cartoons, usually with a caption. First rights means they get to be the first ones to ever publish the cartoon, so cartoons that were previously published are not qualified.
It’s important to understand that the only things that get considered are your cartoons. Don’t expect any special treatment for knowing someone at the New Yorker, having lots of money, or being famous. It simply doesn’t matter.
In general, the New Yorker does not buy cartoons about toilet humor, puns, celebrities, or politicians.
2. Format your cartoons
Print or copy your cartoons on letter-sized paper in black-and-white. Do not send originals–you may not get them back or they will be damaged in transfer. Editors will assume you’re sending copies, so they may discard or scribble on them.
3. Prepare your cartoons and submission
Collect a batch of 5 – 10 cartoons.
Write a simple cover letter. It should include the following information:
Your name and contact information.
Confirmation that these cartoons have never been published anywhere else.
A statement about how frequently you plan on submitting cartoons. Being a consistent contributor will improve your odds.
Optional: A sentence about yourself.
Write or print your name and contact information on each cartoon, because they will be separated from your cover letter and envelope.
4. Submit Cartoons by mail
What you need:
Two 9×12″ envelopes
Postage for two “large 1st class envelopes” up to 3.0 ounces. As of this writing (2013), the postage is $1.32 for each.
Take one envelope and address it to yourself and apply the postage. This is called a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope, or SASE. The New Yorker cartoon editor will use this envelope to mail back any rejected cartoons. (More on that later.)
Place the SASE, your cartoons, and your cover letter into the second envelope, and address it to the New Yorker:
Cartoon Editor New Yorker 4 Times Sq New York, NY 10036
If you want to submit your cartoons to the New Yorker by email, by fax, or in person, then include a note in your mailed submission asking for permission and instructions. They have a specific process for handling all the thousands of cartoon submissions they receive, so it’s best to stick to process unless otherwise permitted.
5. Your Cartoons Are Received
The cartoon editor’s assistant will screen all submissions, and separate properly formatted cartoons from everything else. Next, the editor will review your cartoons and separate them into two piles: maybe and rejected. The rejected pile either gets mailed back, filed in a cabinet, or discarded.
The next day, all cartoons in the maybe pile are reviewed with the New Yorker’s editor-in-chief, and the final selections are made. The rest of the maybe pile gets mailed back, filed, or discarded.
If you do get an answer, it’s going to be within two weeks. Don’t wait for it. Continue to submit as often as you can, but no more than once per week. Do not follow up–they get thousands of cartoon submissions every week and may not follow up with each one of them.
6. Your Cartoons are Accepted or Rejected
One of three things will happen:
If you included a SASE, your cartoons will be returned with a small rejection note.
You won’t hear back, in which case it’s safe to assume your cartoons were not accepted.
You will be contacted within two weeks about one of your cartoons being accepted. Congratulations!
Remember the maybe pile? You’re not going to be told if any of your cartoons made it into the maybe pile, so although you get rejected you may actually be getting closer than you think!
Rejection is as much a part of magazine cartooning as the cartoons themselves. Expect it, accept it, and keep moving forward.
Continue drawing and growing as a gag cartoonist. Getting a cartoon published in the New Yorker–as nice as that would be–should not be the ultimate goal of your gag cartooning career; it’s entirely out of your hands and there are many successful cartoonists who never got published in the New Yorker.
7. Rinse and repeat
Whether or not you received a response after two weeks, continue to submit as frequently as you wish but not more than once per week. The New Yorker, like any regular magazine, wants consistent contributors.
Good luck with getting your cartoons published in the New Yorker. You’re going to need it!