How to Submit Cartoons to the New Yorker

If you’re looking for instructions on submitting cartoons to the New Yorker, this is it. 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

Cartoon Similar to Cartoons in the New Yorker

All New Yorker cartoons summed up in one.

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. Popular themes include business and presentation cartoons, among others.

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:

  1. Your name and contact information.
  2. Confirmation that these cartoons have never been published anywhere else.
  3. A statement about how frequently you plan on submitting cartoons. Being a consistent contributor will improve your odds.
  4. 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:

  1. Two 9×12″ envelopes
  2. 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

Getting a cartoon published in the New Yorker.

Getting a cartoon into the New Yorker is a long journey.

One of three things will happen:

  1. If you included a SASE, your cartoons will be returned with a small rejection note.
  2. You won’t hear back, in which case it’s safe to assume your cartoons were not accepted.
  3. 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!

52 thoughts on “How to Submit Cartoons to the New Yorker

  1. Question for the New Yorker. “Confirmation that these cartoons have never been published anywhere else.” What is YOUR definition of published? Does presenting the images throughout social media or in blogs classify as being “published.”

    Kind regards,

    Jennifer R. Cook

    1. Jennifer, I can’t speak on behalf of the New Yorker, but here’s how I see it: Showing your cartoons in an online portfolio (like your blog) is not considered publishing. Sharing it on social media is a bit of a gray area, because it may have been shared (distributed) by other people.

      Best bet is to submit it to the New Yorker first, and only after it’s been rejected you can share it on social media and elsewhere.

  2. ASCAP, the music performing rights company, considers published songs, and recorded songs. They consider online postings, like ReverbNation and Youtube, to be publishing of songs.
    On that basis, I would only submit art to magazines first, before posting elsewhere, and trying to sort out what “publishing” means.

  3. Question:
    when you say letter sized paper, do you mean 8.5X11? Also, how should the cartoons caption be displayed. I have noticed that in the published new yorker, most of all of the cartoons have an italicized quotation. Should our cartoons include the quotation right on the image, or added separate?

    Thanks for posting all this info!

    Mason

    1. Mason, yes I do mean 8.5×11″ paper. Some people submit on larger bristol sheet, but that would require larger envelopes and more postage.

      The caption can be typed or written below the cartoon in any style you like. If the cartoon gets chosen for publishing, the magazine’s graphics department will typeset the caption in their preferred style anyway. Good luck!

  4. Hi! Do you know what size the actual image should be when printed on the letter-sized paper? And is it one cartoon per page? Thank you so much for posting this!

    1. The exact size doesn’t matter, because their graphics department will adjust it to the size they want. It should be large enough to easily see the cartoon and its details; I’d say 4″ wide at least.

  5. Once a photocopy version of the gag cartoon is approved, I assume the magazine
    will ask to have the original sent for printing. Can a high quality scanned image
    be sent instead of the actual artwork? What does the New Yorker pay for publishing
    a first rights cartoon?

    1. Dave, if they choose to publish your cartoon(s) they’ll tell you their requirements, but I believe a high-resolution copy would work.

      They keep their pay information private, but it starts in the high $XXX’s per cartoon, and goes up if you become a contracted cartoonist.

  6. 1. I get the impression that emailed submissions are somewhat frowned upon. True? Is it better to stick to hard copy?
    2. Is it okay to re-submit a favorite cartoon that has once been rejected in a new batch for a second look? If okay, is it a good idea, actually?
    3. You say that “knowing someone” doesn’t help. Yet, “known” cartoonists under contract must get more consideration than unknowns. True?
    4. Thanks so much for posting this website. It’s extremely helpful.

    1. Dan,

      1. It differs by magazine, but the New Yorker prefers mail or fax submissions. (Ask them for fax instructions and number.)

      2. Sure, it’s okay to resubmit cartoons, but don’t do it often. The New Yorker cartoon editor (Bob Mankoff) has a remarkable memory, so if you resubmit too often or too soon then he will surely notice.

      3. If you mean cartoonists who are under contract with the New Yorker, then yes, they certainly get more consideration. But having contracts with other magazines doesn’t help much. What I meant was that it doesn’t matter if you’re a movie star, or if you’re best friends with Sally from their accounting department.

      4. You’re welcome!

  7. Thanks for the clear guidelines for cartoon submittals – can you advise on how to submit
    “cover” artwork to F. Mouly and/or N. Speigelman at the New Yorker?

    I appreciate your “helping hand” to those of us interested in joining the fray.
    Best Regards, Ned

    1. Ned, I don’t have any experience with submitting cover art, so I am not sure what’s the answer. I think your best bet would be to mail your submissions (copies, not original work) to the above address and address them to “Cover Art Editor.” Include a small note with your submission asking for guidelines so you can continue submitting weekly. If you get any new info, please come back and share with us!

    1. Cristi, I don’t know much about submitting poems to the New Yorker. You can try their online contact form (http://www.newyorker.com/contact/contactus), or mail your poems to the above address, and address it to “Poetry Editor”. Include a note with your poetry submission asking for their poem submission guidelines. Good luck!

  8. Regarding posting your cartoon on a blog and whether or not that means “publishing,” it sounds like best practice is to submit it, and then post after rejection. But what if I already have cartoons on my blog and am not sure about the “published” status? One of your criteria was “confirmation” that these cartoons have never been published anywhere else. I’m not clear on how that can be provided.
    Thank you very much for your information!

    1. Scott, as you may have guessed this is sort of a gray area. These publishing guidelines–like almost everything in the publishing world–were created long before the Internet came about. My understanding is if you can consider your blog to be your portfolio, then your cartoons would not be considered published. On the other hand, if your blog is very popular and has a large audience, the New Yorker (and other magazines) may not want to publish that cartoon again.

  9. Can I submit “rough” artwork, the idea being if they buy my idea I will be given time to ink and “color” the completed the final cartoon? Or do I need to submit a copy of the artwork that is as close to the final look as possible?

    Thanks
    Husky

    1. Husky, that privilege is only given to very few people, who have been contributing and selling to the New Yorker for many, many years. The editors know what their finished work looks like and can trust it to be consistent, so they are OK with just seeing sketches. For everyone else, it’s best to send finished work.

  10. I won the captioning contest once in 2012. I placed second once in 2010. I would like to submit my panels to The New Yorker by email. Is there a specific email address to submit just cartoons to Bob M. and his staff?
    thank you,
    Pete

    1. Hi Pete, congrats on the win! As far as I know, they prefer mailed or faxed submissions. Next time you mail a submission, include a note asking whether you can email cartoons, and to which address. Unfortunately there’s no shortcut to Bob M, even for the veterans. Otherwise he would just be flooded with submissions. Good luck!

    1. Kaleido, I’m not sure when you get paid, but the amount is upwards of $700 from what I heard. More for contracted cartoonists.

  11. Several years ago I read an account by an amateur cartoonist who was determined to get published in the New Yorker. After numerous rejections, he made direct contact with the editor and some of the regular cartoonists. He got quite familiar with them, was invited for coffee etc. They told him he was getting “better” meaning that his work might be accepted fairly soon. He finally decided not to continue, claiming that since he was driven by primarily by ego and not financial need, he did not want to compete with cartoonists who relied on the New Yorker for their livelihood. I also got the impression that the regulars were really a cult and that outsiders had almost no chance of getting published..

  12. Thanks for posting this forum. A question, in case you know: once they accept a cartoon, do they own rights? If not, can you reprint your cartoon elsewhere?

    1. Helen, if I am not mistaken, like many magazines they pay for “first rights.” This means they just want to be the first ones to ever publish the cartoons, but once they do then you can have them published elsewhere. They may specify a time limit, such as some number of months before you can publish it anywhere else.

  13. Do the cartoons need to have a caption?
    I personally create my comics with a single image and leave it to the viewer to interpret the message delivered.

    1. There are many cartoons that are funny with just the image itself, without a caption. So a caption is not required. However, the cartoon should be funny and stand alone, without needing extensive interpretation.

      1. Thank you for your response. I have one additional question as well. Do the comics have to be hand drawn, or are vector graphics also accepted?

        1. They don’t need to be hand-drawn. Some artists — such as Alex Gregory — draw theirs entirely on computers.

    1. Irene, just to be clear I have no connection to the New Yorker magazine, and I do not work for them. I do know they mostly prefer single-panel cartoons, since that is the traditional format. Occasionally they do have multi-panel cartoons, but not often. For example, look at cartoons from Roz Chast — they are often multi-panel.

  14. Hello there.

    Please clarify statement in guide line number 3: author is expected (required)
    to submit a BATCH of 5-10 cartoons; so 1 will not do? Please clarify.

    With thanks,

    John Starrels

    1. John, submitting a group (a “batch”) of cartoons is preferred because it gives the editors more choice and gives them a better sense of your humor and drawing style. Additionally, it gives you better chances of selling a cartoon, because you’re more likely to sell 1 out of 10 (10% success rate) than 1 out of 1 (100% success rate — very uncommon). Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from sending just one or two at a time.

  15. Does The New Yorker provide illustrators? I have single panel cartoons that I have drawn and captioned myself but I need them to be re-done by a professional illustrator. Any advise will be greatly appreciated.

    1. Wendy, the New Yorker does not provide illustrators, so the cartoons you submit need to be in a finished state. If you’d like to leave the drawing to someone else, you can pair up with an artist and have them draw your ideas, then you would split any revenue you earn from selling those cartoons.

    2. That’s an interesting proposition Vendella. I draw cartoons in a few different styles. I would be interested in talking about pairing up. Perhaps Grigoriy could exchange our email addresses.

  16. Hi Greg,

    Thanks for this clear and helpful guide, and also for kindly turning your comments section into a bit of an FAQ section! Definitely interesting info for veteran and new cartoonists alike.

  17. What if you haven’t hear back for several weeks? Can you send the same cartoon to another publishers? If the New Yorker decides to buy, do they sent a purchase order and ask for an exclusive? How long do they hang on to cartoons without publishing?

    1. Kaleido, if you haven’t heard back for several weeks it’s safe to assume the cartoons did not get selected, and you can safely submit them to other magazines or publications.

      They usually publish cartoons quickly, a week or two after purchasing them.

      I’m not certain about their ordering process, but I’m sure they would provide instructions at the time of purchase.

      Good luck!

      1. this is the reason people include the self addressed envelope for return. if you have them sent back, you get a rejection slip. then you know you can submit them elsewhere.

  18. Hello! I have a series of cartoons I would like to submit but my illustrations are colorful. Should I submit them in their original color or turn them black and white first? I also have them with the dialogue or writing directly on the art or I could remove it and type it below. Would it be best not to have the dialogue on the artwork?

    Thank you for your information.

    cheers,
    julie

    1. Julie, might as well submit them in color to save time. You can always turn them into black and white if they request it. As for the cartoon caption: In most magazines (including the New Yorker), the caption is written by the design/layout department to fit the magazine style. So it does not matter how it’s typed beforehand — hand-written is okay.

      To be clear, all the information I’m sharing on this page is from my own experience and understanding. I am not affiliated with the New Yorker in any way.

      Good luck!

  19. Thanks for the guidelines Grigoriy these are most helpful.

    I am based in Scotland I’m assuming that wouldn’t make a difference when submitting?
    I certainly plan to submit to the New Yorker using these guidelines but can you suggest other publications that would be interested in similar work if I should have my submissions rejected?

    Thanks again (can’t stand the ‘another shark in the tank’ attitude)

  20. I just sent my first batch of 7 ‘toons, with a cover letter, bio., SASE, and have the second batch ready…
    Question: Do I continue to include a cover letter, bio. in future submissions? It seems like I should but you never know…
    Many thanks, this page has been a great help!
    mike

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