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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?
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