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I frequently receive e-mails from people looking for places to publish their personal essays. Fiction and nonfiction writers alike all have a great story about the time Aunt Harriet came for dinner and left on the back of a horse, or the time the cat disappeared and returned six years later, or the time they had an epiphany about the meaning of life while walking through the woods at dusk. But where can you submit that funny, poignant, life-changing essay that’s gathering virtual dust in a folder on your computer? Who will publish it? And who will pay? Here are 20 newspapers, magazines, literary journals, and anthologies to help you begin your search:
1. New York Times Modern Love—Start by reading a lot of Modern Love columns to get an idea of what they’re looking for. You may even want to buy this Modern Love collection. Don’t miss the Media Bistro article on how to turn your Modern Love column into a book, and be sure to visit the Modern Love Facebook Page for submission tips from the editor, Daniel Jones.
2. New York Times Lives—TheNew York Times Magazine Lives column is another great place to get published. The best way to submit to any large publication is to have someone put you in touch with the editor of the column. The rest of us can e-mail our essays to the Lives section at lives (at) nytimes (dot) com.
3. Newsweek My Turn—Start by reading “How To Get a My Turn Essay Published in Newsweek Magazine.” Then read some of the past essays that have been published to get a good idea of what they are looking for and what’s already been done. UPDATE: Submit My Turn essays to editorial (at) thedailybeast (dot) com.
4. Christian Science Monitor Home Forum—The Christian Science Monitor is a highly respected international newspaper and is not religious-based. It’s Home Forum page includes a personal essay that can run from 400 to 800 words. After you read the Monitor’s contributor guidelines, check out this article for advice on how to beat the odds of getting your essay published.
5. The Sun—A monthly magazine, The Sun pays from $300 to $2,000 for essays and interviews. They receive a thousand submissions (including fiction and poetry) for every issue, so don’t be surprised if you have to wait six months for a response.
6. The Smithsonian Magazine—The Last Page of The Smithsonian is a humor column running 500 to 650 words and pays $1000. For more information, read the submission guidelines.
7. Salon—From what I’ve read, the pay is low for Salon essays ($150?), but it’s better than nothing and a great way to get exposure. Check out this list, and then click around the different departments (Life, Sex, Poetry, etc.) to see what they’re publishing. Finally, see their submission guidelines, which aren’t all that helpful.
8. Slate—Slate publishes some essays, but I was so distracted by their targeted banner ads (Camping gear! Children’s outdoor play equipment!) that I gave up on my search before I got very far.
9. The Rumpus—An online culture magazine, The Rumpus “[tries] to maintain high standards even though we don’t have any money and can’t pay for writing.” For details on submitting essays or book reviews, see their writer’s guidelines.
10. 7×7—Another West Coast publication, 7×7 has an Urban Ledger column for which readers can pitch their personal essays. They pay $1 a word, and their essays run about 1000 words. For more information, contact the editorial department.
11. Skirt—An online women’s magazine, Skirt accepts submissions up to 1500 words, but—like most online publications—does not pay. For more info, read their contributor guidelines.
12. Granta—A British literary magazine, Granta publishes original memoir pieces between 3000 and 6000 words. They do not accept e-mail submissions. Read a few copies of the journal (you can find most journals at a library) and then read their guidelines.
13. Tin House—A literary journal, Tin House accepts essays as well as poetry and fiction from Sept. 1 to May 31. The suggested deadline for their Spring 2012 issue, themed Weird Science, is Oct. 1. The real deadline is Nov. 1. Click here for submission guidelines.
14. Zyzzyva—You have to live on the West Coast to publish in Zyzzyva, but it’s another literary journal that accepts personal essays. The best way to learn what any publication is looking for is to read several issues of that publication, and Zyzzyva is no exception. Start by buying a copy. Then read the submission guidelines.
15. Traveler’s Tales—Traveler’s Tales is currently accepting submissions in the women’s travel humor and travel humor categories. Visit their website for submission details. The deadline is TODAY (Sept. 21) for their Fifth Annual Solas Awards, so get it in fast if you have something ready. Otherwise, you can submit year-round and your submission will be held for the following competition.
16. Literary Mama—An online literary magazine “for the maternally inclined,” Literary Mama is looking for “revelation so stark that it hurts. Pathos can reveal, but so can humor and joy; superior craft (clarity, concrete details, strong narrative development); and ambiguity, complexity, depth, thoughtfulness, delicacy, humor, irreverence, lyricism, sincerity; the elegant and the raw.” View their submission guidelines for more info.
17. Brain, Child—The magazine for thinking mothers (as opposed to literary mamas), publishes essays between 800 and 4500 words, which are “the signature pieces of the magazine.” They pay “as much as we can, although our fees are still modest for now.” View their writers’ guidelines.
18. Chicken Soup for the Soul—It doesn’t seem like there’s anything left to publish in this series, but there is! There is! And here are the submission guidelines.
19. Seal Press Anthologies—Seal Press publishes books “By Women. For Women.” They aren’t currently accepting submissions, but check back periodically for upcoming books.
20. Adams Media books—Adams publishes nonfiction books, including some anthologies. Right now they’re taking parodies of Jane Austen writing for an anthology titled Bad Austen.
In addition to those listed above, there is a plethora of other literary journals that publish personal essays. NewPages.com provides an extensive list with descriptions. Writer’s Digest also has a great article called Tips to Help You Publish Your Personal Essays. They also publish the trusted Writer’s Market directory, which you can access online.
Do you have any publications to add to the list, or details/tips about any of those listed above?
This is the second in a series of several posts I will be doing about where to publish your personal essays. The first can be found HERE.
So many bloggers have personal essays and narratives they’d like to place on great sites. I love reading personal stories, and occasionally try my hand at writing one myself, though they don’t come easy for me.
Did you know there is a difference between and essay and a narrative? This presentation takes about 30 seconds to click through and gives a way better explanation than I can. For the purposes of this series, I’m going to lump them together, but be sure to check out the submission guidelines for any site you submit to, and see if they specify a preference or any specific nuances they look for in personal stories.
If you have been published in one of the sites and magazines listed here, leave a comment and tell us about your experience!
Baby Boomer-Centric Narratives
BoomerCafe – “Now in its 16th year, BoomerCafe is the original digital magazine for baby boomers with active lifestyles and youthful spirits.” If you were born between the years of 1946 and 1964 and have a story to tell in 500 words or less (I know, I know, that’s a little shorter than the typical essay), try this established site. No pay, but it’s a labor of love. SUBMIT
Looking for an example of a personal essay on this site? Try One Baby Boomer’s Endless Summer by Erin O’Brien
Creative Nonfiction ($)
Creative Nonfiction – “We’re open to all types of creative nonfiction, from immersion reportage to personal essay to memoir. Our editors tend to gravitate toward submissions structured around narratives, but we’re always happy to be pleasantly surprised by work that breaks outside this general mold. Above all, we’re most interested in writing that blends style with substance, and reaches beyond the personal to tell us something new about the world. We firmly believe that great writing can make any subject interesting to a general audience.” Accepting both themed and non-themed submissions (check for current themes in submission guidelines), the magazine pays a $50 flat fee plus $10 per printed page.SUBMIT
Browse contents for back issues of Creative Nonfiction
What It Means To Be An Adult
Full Grown People – A web magazine about the other awkward age of adulthood. “The topics here run the whole gamut: romance, family, health, career, dealing with aging loved ones, and more. But what draws everything together is the sense that we’re all feeling our way along.” This site is coveted by many writers and publishes unique and compelling stories. Being published on Full Grown People will also put you into consideration for future anthologies published by the site. A considerable feather in your writing cap. SUBMIT
Looking for an example of a personal essay on this site? Try Animal House by Jodi Mace
RELATED: BYB 021: Get Your High Quality Writing Published On Full Grown People With Jennifer Niesslein
Children of the ’80s Then and Now ($)
The Mid – “The Mid is about life in “the messy middle.” We’re working hard, raising families, laughing at the past, focused on the future. ” A fairly new website, they have 3 really big things going for them: (1) lots of buzz, (2) unique premise/content, and (3) ‘Scary Mommy’ Jill Smokler recently joining the ranks as Editor-in-Chief (I know, I know, does this woman ever sleep?). While they love the list, you;ll find some great essays too. P.S., they pay. SUBMIT
Looking for an example of a personal essay on this site? Try What Happened When I Tried To Give My Kids A 1980s Summer by Stephanie Sprenger
Life With Kids – The Good, Bad and Ugly
Great Moments In Parenting – “Great Moments in Parenting is a website where parents can share the agony and the ecstasy of life with kids. This is a community of moms and dads who understand just how funny (and challenging) it can be to raise kids.” In addition to essays, this site also publishes short ‘moments’, as well as photos and cartoons. SUBMIT
Looking for an example of a personal essay on this site? Try Does This Kid Make My Butt Look Big? by Sarah Honey
RELATED: Beyond Your Blog Podcast 014: Virginia Woodruff – Editor, Great Moments In Parenting
Contemporary Relationships ($)
Modern Love – “This weekly column in the Sunday Style section of the New York Times is a coveted placement for personal essays about contemporary relationships, marriage, dating, parenthood — any subject that might reasonably fit under the heading “Modern Love.” A paying and competitive gig, this highly regarded section of the Times is the summit of non-lit mag essay placements for many bloggers and writers. SUBMIT
Looking for an example of a personal essay on this site? Try Crawling Back From The Ledge by Alana Romain
About The Modern Man (or raising one)
The Good Men Project– “We are having a conversation about what it means to be a man in the 21st century—and it is wide and varied and mundane and provocative. But for a post to be considered, it must always must be about, by, for, or focused on men. (Please note that approximately 20% of our contributors are women. That’s great—we love women’s voices. But they write about men, or sometimes about raising boys who become men.)” Topics range from Politics, Ethics and Parenting, to Mental Heath, Masculinity, and Relationships, and everything in between.SUBMIT
Looking for an example of a personal essay on this site? Try Are You Raising Compassionate Boys? by Jenny Kanevsky
True Stories About People – Told Slowly ($)
Narratively – “Narratively is a platform devoted to untold human stories. We avoid the breaking news and the next big headline, and focus instead on slow storytelling, exploring one theme each week and publishing just one story a day.” This ‘slow’ approach to story telling is refreshing to many writers who feel rushed in the click-bait world of the internet. Rates range from $100-$200 and they hope to keep increasing them. SUBMIT
Looking for an example of a personal essay on this site? Try Why I Answered My Dad’s Gay Sex Ad by Aussa Laurens
RELATED: Beyond Your Blog Podcast 039: Brendan Spiegel – Editorial Director, Narratively
On Being Blog – “On Being is a Peabody Award-winning public radio conversation and podcast, a Webby Award-winning website and online exploration, a publisher and public event convener. On Being opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live? We explore these questions in their richness and complexity in 21st-century lives and endeavors.” It’s hard to put into words what works here. It’s better to read a few and you’ll get a feel for the subtle and not-so-subtle reflections on life, spirituality and faith that they contain. Better yet, take a listen to the radio show that the blog revolves around to catch the mood.SUBMIT
Looking for an example of a personal essay on this site? Try The Way Of The Horse by Monica Devine
Compelling Stories On A Theme ($)
Slice Magazine – “Slice magazine welcomes submissions for short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. We’re looking for anyone with a fresh voice and a compelling story to share—basically any work that really knocks our socks off.” This publication has submission periods throughout the year on specific themes (‘resistance’ for example). Slice currently pays $100 for accepeted stories and essays.SUBMIT
Visit Slice to preview a past issue
RELATED: Great Sites For Publishing Your Personal Essays [Part 1]
Stay tuned for more great options for your personal essays!