Guidelines for submitting to 251.

What is 251?

251 is The American Bystander’s online home, and we publish new short humor that is 251 words or fewer.  This includes (but is certainly not limited to):

  • Lists
  • Short monologues
  • Illustrations
  • Cartoons (single- or multi-panel)
  • Flash fiction
  • 30-second screenplays
  • Groundbreaking knock-knock jokes
  • Brief observations
  • Poems (especially if they’re illustrated)
  • Fictional obituaries
  • Real obituaries
  • Confessions
  • Unsolicited life advice
  • Get-rich-quick schemes
  • Public service announcements
  • Individual, funny-sounding words
  • Folk tales
  • Highly-abridged novels
  • Letters to inanimate objects, intangible concepts, or fictional people
  • Ideas on how to make online humor highly profitable (we will not publish these, but we will steal them)

There are very few pieces we’ll reject on structure alone; we’re excited by comedy that couldn’t be published anywhere else. As such, we do tend to shy away from the following few things:

  • Satirical news
  • Quizzes
  • Non-fiction and personal essays
  • Humor that won’t be funny in a month

Generally, we’re looking for things that are brief but substantive. 

Please do not send us pieces that you have published elsewhere, and only send us one at a time. 


Does 251 Pay?

Not yet. 

But every piece published in 251 will be seriously considered for publication in a print issue of The American Bystander. We do pay writers and cartoonists for work that appears in print. 


What Do You Like?

Read the site and find out!

In addition, we republish select material from 251 in our newsletter, The American Bystander’s Viral Load. If you’re new to us, subscribing to the newsletter will give you a good idea of what we’re looking for.

OBVIOUSLY DON’T submit things that are racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, or that otherwise denigrate people based on fundamental and immutable aspects of their personhood. Get that shit out of here.

Make sure that your piece has jokes in it! You’d be surprised how often this is forgotten.

For inspiration you might want to read old issues of Army Man, the Readings in Harper’s, Simon Rich’s shorter stuff, Shel Silverstein, Billy Collins, Wendy Cope. 


How Do I Submit?

All submissions should be sent to That includes cartoons as well. Feel free to attach your piece as a .doc, or paste it directly into the email. You can submit batches of cartoons. You can even submit batches of short written pieces.

In the body of the email, include your name and whatever you’d like us to link to if we publish.