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Thread: Do Humor Novels Sell?

  1. #1
    figuring it all out
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    Do Humor Novels Sell?

    It seems like humor is mostly nonfiction these days. But what about fiction? Apart from "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" and "The Rosie Project," there doesn't seem to be much recent stuff out there.

    Are any agents or editors still interested? If so, what do you query it as (ie "contemporary," "contemporary humor," "humor")?

    And if any of you funny, funny people are prepared to give general life advice: What options are out there when your only virtues are wit and unprovoked swelling?

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW LJD's Avatar
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    There are lots of funny novels out there, but I don't think of them as fitting within a humor genre. Like, there are funny romances, fantasy novels, etc. I mostly read romance, but outside of romance, I also thought "This is Where I Leave You" and "Crazy Rich Asians" were pretty funny, for example. If you aren't writing genre fiction--it sounds like you aren't--then I would query as mainstream or contemporary and make sure the query shows your sense of humor.

    I wrote a 90,000-word romance parody. Incredibly stupid idea? We shall see...

  3. #3
    figuring it all out Sagml John's Avatar
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    Agree totally with both. I love funny and I like writing 3rd person fiction. Mixing the two just seems to put me in right field watching the dandelions grow. Call it sci-fi or romance or whatever and inject the promise of humor in the blurb or query seems to be the consensus.
    Finally attempting a blog.

  4. #4
    Count the Electrons R.Barrows's Avatar
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    I hope they sell. My current WIP is a cross-genre parody of everything having to do with publishing and writing. If no one is buying comedy, I'll have to self-publish again. Another years worth of work thrown in the hole. I guess I don't care enough, though. I seriously amused myself writing it. There is some value in keeping yourself sane.

  5. #5
    figuring it all out
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    Since my novel leans toward sarcasm, I did a little research on the humor/satire market, and came to the same conclusion as you: humor/satire is mostly associated with non-fiction (specially politics). Even if your work is written in a Sharpe/Vonnegut style, you might be better off labelling it as literary fiction.

  6. #6
    Moody Floridian Bunny Latina Bunny's Avatar
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    Wait, there is a humor genre? Like an actual specific genre?

    I would think that humorous elements can be incorporated into any genre, like Romance or SFF, or in General Fiction or Contemporary, Women's Fiction, Literary fiction, and so on? If it's a humorous story, I would think there are the various genres, or the umbrella General Fiction for that.

    ETA: Regarding the query, maybe you can just put humorous as an adjective and give hints of the types of humorous situations that are found in the plot?

    Maybe the Humor genre is more for nonfiction books, like political satire, or autobiographies or biographies, or for non-fiction book of just jokes and quotes and stuff?

    At least, that's what in the Humor section of a bookstore I went to...
    Last edited by Latina Bunny; 04-23-2016 at 05:21 PM.

  7. #7
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by bunny-gypsy View Post
    At least, that's what in the Humor section of a bookstore I went to...
    This. I work at a Barnes and Noble, and the Humor category we have is awfully small, and is made up of things like parody books and joke books and the like. Odds and ends really. But to add onto what everyone else in this thread said, yes, I've read a bunch of humorous books. They just aren't labeled humor. They're books of many genres that just happen to be funny or have humor sprinkled in.

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW
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    Novels with humor in them sell very well. Google "Terry Pratchett" or "Carl Hiaasen" or "Douglas Adams" or "J.K. Rowling" or "Kurt Vonnegut" or "Stanislaw Lem". But all of these and many more successful authors have concocted stories carrying weight other than simply the humor. So I concur completely with what Matthew said in the preceding post.

    caw
    Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.

    -- Terry Pratchett

  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW
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    Raymond Chandler's Red Meat, Testosterone-filled mysteries are funny as the devil. In the parts where someone ain't getting plugged.

  10. #10
    There's a stick up there Kjbartolotta's Avatar
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    Feeling this thread hard. Do they sell? Who knows? Hope so, otherwise the last two years are down the crapper.

    I'm kinda getting into the world of Bizarro fiction, which seems to have a pretty lively scene going on about it. Suits me though, since I tend more towards weirdness and gross-out.

  11. #11
    Writer of MG, YA and Adult Melody's Avatar
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    The novel I have coming out next year is a humorous middle-grade novel. But, FWIW, it does have some meat to it at the end. I pitched it as a humorous novel. I also included a brief synopsis so editors would know there was still 'a little something to say' besides all the quirky craziness in the story. Anyway, that was my experience. Good luck!
    http://www.melodydelgado.com/ ROYALLY ENTITLED, Historical YA Romance and OOPS-A-DAISY, Humorous MG, published by Clean Reads - Out now on Kobo, B&N and Amazon, etc.

  12. #12
    Professional Amateur Keyboard Cowboy's Avatar
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    Dave Barry seems to have done well with a few fictional humor novels. I've heard Big Trouble is hilarious. I still need to read that one. He likely got a sales boost from an already established audience, though.

  13. #13
    --------- P-Baker's Avatar
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    Dave Barry's books are excellent examples of how to create a funny novel from real life. As far as I know, every bizarre incident in "Big Trouble" was either based on or taken directly from events in Miami, most of which he had previously written about in his column.

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