Dear Humor Editor,

Congratulations! You’ve accepted my humor piece! You are now part of a very exclusive club of people who have approved of my writing in any form. Not an easy feat. Honestly, I don’t know how you found me. Probably if I hadn’t sent you that submission weeks ago, you and I wouldn’t be talking right now.


But before you run out and tell your parents you’re publishing my work, let’s set a few ground rules:

I don’t take edits.

Hey, you’re a fan of mine. Isn’t this the kind of audacity that drew you to my work in the first place?

You will pay me $50,000.

Pretty sure that’s the going rate these days. I don’t care if it comes out of your salary. You’re an unpaid volunteer? Fundraise. Hit up your parents. This opportunity may not come again. I am not a very good writer.

I’ll agree to appear on your end-of-year “best-of” list.

In fact, I demand it.

What is your home address?


Don’t bug me about sending more “work.”

Look, I know anything I send you from now on will automatically get accepted, but don’t pander for my art. I set the pace.

Please regard me as you would any other artist.

Only better—and artier.

Yes, I will read at your swanky fundraiser in Manhattan with celebrity guests and crudité, but only if you provide train fare.

Don’t expect me to get drunk with Jon Hamm and then drive all the way back to New Paltz.

I will guest on your podcast.

If you syndicate with Fresh Air.

I will not agree to mention your publication when my piece turns into an Amazon Original.

Dude. Back off.

The $50,000 is non-negotiable.

I don’t know, dude. Speak with my assistant Lydia. I hired her when you accepted my submission.

I bring my priest everywhere.

Don’t worry, Father Heim is cool—and always good for a toke.

No, I don’t want my piece to be “online,” please.

Ha! Lydia and I had a good laugh at that one. I have a strict print-only policy.

You’re backing out on me? You want to pull the piece?

Honestly, I’d like to see you try.

Okay, Lydia and I talked, and I will take the $5 you pay for list pieces.

Skip the crudité. But we will not, as you suggest, donate it back to your publication. I’m not a chump.

I do require the money in advance of the final edit.

Show me the $5, dude. Father Heim has a knife.

You can't back out.

Nobody backs out on me. I’ll call Jon Hamm on your ass. (Lydia. Get me Jon Hamm.)

Okay, I talked with my priest, I talked with Lydia: I’ll do it for free.

And online. Just—please—put me on your site!

“Get out of my house”?

Maybe don’t give me your home address if you don’t want me in your house.

Again, congratulations. I really think this will be an excellent long-term partnership that has nothing to do with the fact that your side door was open and Father Heim is wielding a Bowie knife.

All best,

Jeff Bender

P.S. I now take edits!