Womens Magazines Personal Essays
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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?
Christian Science Monitor
"The Home Forum is looking for upbeat, personal essays. We also welcome short poems. All material must be original and previously unpublished. For seasonal material, be aware that if you submit something that is about a particular month, holiday, event (back to school, graduation), or season, we need to receive it a minimum of six weeks ahead. These are first-person, nonfiction explorations of how you responded to a place, a person, a situation, an event, or happenings in everyday life. Tell a story; share a funny true tale. The humor should be gentle. We accept essays on a wide variety of subjects, and encourage timely, newsy topics. However, we don't deal with the topics of death, aging and disease."
Length: 400 to 800 words
Down East: The Magazine of Maine
"My Maine is our section most open to new contributors. My Maine stories are personal essays that focus on some aspect of the writer’s relationship to Maine and the Maine landscape. Pieces are often lyrical, sometimes humorous, and almost always have a strong first person component. We receive more submissions for My Maine than any other section of the magazine; please give us three months to respond to your submission before following up."
Length: 800–1000 words
Payment: Between $.40/word and $.70/word
"FATE magazine reports on a wide variety of strange and unknown phenomena. We are open to receiving any well-written, well-documented article. (FATE does not publish poetry or fiction.) Our readers especially like reports of current investigations, experiments, theories, and experiences."
Payment: $50 per article, and $10 for short fillers, which are less than 500 words, payable six months after print publication. Payment for “True Mystic Experiences” and “My Proof of Survival” is $25, including the use of the photograph, which will be returned.
Good Old Days
"Good Old Days tells the real stories of the people who lived and grew up in “the Good Old Days” (about 1935–1960). We like stories to sound informal and conversational, as if you’re sitting around the kitchen table reminiscing with your friends and family. However, we are open to any way you choose to write your story, as long as it is true and falls within our targeted period of time. We prefer the author’s individual voice, warmth, humor and honesty over technical ability. We do not accept fictional manuscripts."
Length: 500 to 1,500 words
Payment: $15 to $75
Michigan Quarterly Review
"MQR is an eclectic interdisciplinary journal of arts and culture that seeks to combine the best of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction with outstanding critical essays on literary, cultural, social, and political matters. The flagship journal of the University of Michigan, MQR draws on lively minds here and elsewhere, seeking to present accessible work of all varieties for sophisticated readers from within and without the academy."
Length: 1,500 words minimum, 5,000 average, 7,000 maximum
"We're looking for anyone with a fresh voice and a compelling story to share—basically any work that really knocks our socks off. At the core, Slice aims to bridge the gap between emerging and established authors by offering a space where both are published side-by-side. We simply look for works by writers who promise to become tomorrow’s literary legends."
Only accepts submissions during reading periods
"We are interested in literary fiction, including short stories, short shorts, and novel excerpts up to 6,250 words in length, and creative nonfiction. We select work on the basis of style, craft, freshness, and vision."
The Rusty Toque
"The Rusty Toque is a contemporary online literary and arts journal from Ontario. The Rusty Toque strives to publish innovative literary writing, film, reviews, and visual art nationally and internationally in the spring and fall of each year."
Payment: $50 (CAD)
The Smart Set
"We’re always looking for excellent, original, and previously unpublished personal essays, critical essays, reporting, memoir, travel writing, stories, photo essays, and even video projects."
"If there’s any group of people who believe the ideas around breakfast are boundless, we're obviously the ones. The editors of Extra Crispy want to hear your hot takes on hot cakes." No restaurant reviews.
Payment: Competitive rates
DAME features a variety of voices writing reported pieces, op-eds, and personal essays covering culture, politics, parenting, family, gender, sex, entertainment, tech culture, business and personal finance. DAME’s tone is irreverent, witty, and provocative. "Our objective is to move the conversation forward around trending and topical subjects most relevant to women—that is, when we're not starting the conversation. We accept narrative-driven reported features, first-person essays, Q&As, op-eds, and humor essays (especially satire).
Length: Stories are generally between 800 and 2,000 words, depending on the subject matter and the story format."
Kveller is a parenting magazine that accepts personal essays about parenting and women’s issues as seen through a Jewish lens.
Length: 500-1000 words
New York Times: Modern Love
"The editors of Modern Love are interested in receiving deeply personal essays about contemporary relationships, marriage, dating, parenthood...any subject that might reasonably fit under the heading “Modern Love.” Ideally, essays should spring from some central dilemma the writer has faced in his or her life. It helps if the situation has a contemporary edge, though this is not essential. Most important is that the writing be emotionally honest and the story be freshly and compellingly told."
Length: 1500-1700 words
Salon accepts articles and story pitches to the appropriate section with “Editorial Submission” in the subject line and the query/submission in the body of the email. Include your writing background or qualifications, along with links to three or four clips.
Payment: 10 cents/word
Slate is an online magazine about news, politics, and culture. Please indicate which section you’re pitching to in the subject line of your email.
Payment: 23 cents/word
"The Billfold aims to do away with the misbelief that talking about difficult money issues is uncomfortable, and create a space to have an honest conversation about how we save, spend and repay our debts. We are going to break one of the last taboos in our culture — talking about what you earn, what you spend, what you owe. Interested in contributing to The Billfold? Send an e-mail to email@example.com with a specific pitch you have in mind and an editor will get back to you as soon as possible."
Payment: 3 cents/word
"We are looking for evocative first-person narratives that have a unique focus, or take a novel angle, on a slice of the parenting experience. We are open to a range of styles and tones: the only requirement is that the essay works on its own terms—be it lyrical, humorous, research-oriented, etc—and conveys something fundamental about its writer."
Length: Up to 1200 words
Payment: Not specified
Tin House is a highly regarded literary magazine that accept unsolicited submissions twice a year: in September and March.
Length: Up to 10,000 words
Payment: Professional rates
"Narratively is devoted to original and untold human stories, delivered in the most appropriate format for each piece, from writing to short documentary films, photo essays, audio stories and comics journalism. We are always interested in adding new, diverse voices to the mix and we pay for stories. We accept both pitches for story ideas and completed submissions."
Payment: Not specified
"The Establishment is looking to unearth overlooked stories, produce original reporting, and provide a platform for voices that have been marginalized by the mainstream media. And yes, we want your humor, wit, and good old-fashioned satire, too. We publish originally reported features, interviews, long-form journalism, personal essays, and multimedia of all shapes, sizes, and creeds."
Length: 800–1,500 words
"We publish essays, interviews, fiction, and poetry. We tend to favor personal writing, but we’re also looking for provocative pieces on political and cultural issues. And we’re open to just about anything. Surprise us; we often don’t know what we’ll like until we read it."
Length: Up to 7,000 words
"skirt! publishes two personal essays every month on topics relating to women and women’s interests. Essays must fit one of our monthly themes."
Length: 800 to 1100 words
Travelers’ Tales are yearly anthologies of travel writing. "We’re looking for personal, nonfiction stories and anecdotes-funny, illuminating, adventurous, frightening, or grim. Stories should reflect that unique alchemy that occurs when you enter unfamiliar territory and begin to see the world differently as a result. Stories that have already been published are welcome as long as the author retains the copyright to reprint the material."
Brain, Child is an award-winning literary magazine for mothers. "We focus on long form essays. We are excited by great writing – and by both new and established writers. It makes our day when we hear from an established writer or publish an author for the first time."
Length: 1,500 – 4,500 words
Payment: Competitive rates
Destinations uses pieces that go beyond a mere description of a trail or place. "Our destination stories are almost always first person and based upon the author’s recent trip experience. Readers should come away with a strong sense of that particular outdoor experience, a firm grasp of the location’s character, and the inspiration to duplicate the trip."
Length: 1,500 to 5,000 or more words, and most contain a full Expedition Planner sidebar (contact, permit, season, hazards, map, guidebook, and other useful information; look at past BACKPACKER issues for examples and style).
Payment: $0.40-$1 per word
"Surprise us! The only rules are that all work submitted must be nonfiction and original to the author, and we will not consider previously published work."
Length: 5,000 - 10,000 words
Note: There is a $3 fee to submit online. No charge for snail mail.
The American Association of Retired People accepts thoughtful, timely, new takes on matters of importance to people over 50. “Originality is key. Certain life events, such as caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s disease, inspire many more great essays than we could ever hope to publish. We’re looking for the compelling reads and universal truths in unusual, extreme or common-but-little-discussed life experiences.”
Length: 1,200-1,500 words
Vox First Person
Vox.com is now publishing thoughtful, in-depth, provocative personal narratives that explain the most important topics in modern life.
The Bold Italic
The Bold Italic is an online magazine that celebrates the character and free-wheeling spirit of San Francisco and the Bay Area. For pitches, comments and general inquiries, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bustle is "for & by women who are moving forward as fast as you are." Topics range from politics, to motherhood, to books, fashion and entertainment. Although the focus is on women, articles by men are accepted. Payment varies. Read their submission guidelines.
Length: 800-2000 words
Payment: Averages about 5 cents per word
The Penny Hoarder
"We’re looking for freelance writers who have fun, unique ideas for earning, saving or investing money. We’d love to hear your personal experience, especially if you can share detailed numbers, strategies and advice."
Length: 700 to 900 words
Payment: Averages 8 cents/word
"We’re interested in seeing finished pieces that intersect culture. We realize it’s a lot to ask for people to to write something without knowing if it will be published. On the other hand if you aren’t driven by the story so much that you have to write it then it’s probably not a good fit for The Rumpus."
Payment: Averages 13 cents/word
Human Noise Journal
"[Our] goal is to publish pieces that are intriguing and unique. Pieces that make you think. Pieces that encompass all of the human experience. Pieces that are multimedia and experimental. We want to give a voice to the voiceless. Most of us here have been a struggling artist in one form or another and now it is our turn to give writers, novice or experienced, a place to get published. So send us your darlings, if you are brave enough to put them out into the world."
Length: Short Stories and essays should be no longer than 10 pages
Note: See submission periods