Personal essays are everywhere you look lately, and many of you love to write them. Whether they are your go-to format, or just something you dabble in from time to time, it can be intimidating when you are starting out placing your first personal essays. We’ve put together a list of ten publications that not only publish personal essays, but also love to hear from new writers!
The Rumpus – Editor-in-Chief Marisa Siegel describes The Rumpus as “Great writing that might not find a home elsewhere.” They like unique perspectives and deep-dives into pop culture. They also plan to publish more political pieces in 2017. While opt-in payment is very small (usually less than $20 a piece), The Rumpus is a respected publication on the radar of many writers due to the quality of story they publish, and their reputation for publishing unique and diverse points of view. Submission Guidelines; Editor Q&A with Marisa Siegel of The Rumpus
SheKnows – This site publishes writing on women’s issues including parenting, beauty, food, health, and even pets, to name just a few. Many writers publish on the thriving open contributor platform known as SheKnows Community. Writers are unpaid, and enjoy gaining instant exposure to a segment of the SheKnows monthly readership, which spans into the tens of millions. If your piece is selected as a staff pick, enjoy even more visibility among SheKnows readers. While the SheKnows Community does not offer paid writing opportunities, SheKnows.com has editors with small freelance budgets. They can be contacted individually by vertical at Parenting@sheknows.com, Health@sheknows.com, Love@sheknows.com, Entertainment@sheknows.com, Food@sheknows.com, and Pets@sheknows.com. Rates vary for freelance opportunities, however flat rates in the $50-60 range seem to be frequently reported by writers.
Editor Q&A with Colleen Stinchcombe of SheKnows
DAME – DAME publishes reported pieces, op-eds, and personal essays covering culture, politics, parenting, family, gender, sex, entertainment, tech culture, business and personal finance, and more. DAME’s wheelhouse is starting and continuing conversations on trending topics. Oh, and they love humor essays (even satire) if you’ve got ‘em! Founder, Jennifer Reitman is very supportive of bringing new writing voices to DAME. Rates vary, but are very competitive for new writers.
Submission Guidelines; Writing For DAME Magazine – With Founder & Publisher, Jennifer Reitman
Bustle – This very popular women’s interest site is known for shareable content. Features Editor, Rachel Krantz doesn’t care if you are brand new to submitting your work, or only have a few bylines, and is very open to hearing from new writers. Bustle looks for personal essays that have “strong, intimate narrative with a distinctive voice that is authoritative yet still fun and accessible for Bustle’s audience.” P.S. Their offspring publication Romper is looking for similar content about millennial motherhood. Rates for Bustle are not published, but based on writer reports from WhoPaysWriters.com, rates hover around a .05/word on average.
Submission Guidelines; Practical Submission Advice from Bustle Features Editor, Rachel Krantz
Modern Loss – If you are writing about navigating your life after a death, Modern Loss is a great site to consider. While they don’t yet pay, top agents do canvass the site, and a byline here is a nice feather in the cap for a new writer. Authors span new writers to best-selling authors, so you’ll be in good company.
Submission Guidelines; Writing For Modern Loss About Your Life After A Death – With Co-Founder & CEO, Rebecca Soffer
Narratively – This site is one of a kind and practices “slow storytelling” of untold human stories. Selected by TIME magazine as one of the top 50 websites in 2013, the quality of writing and unique stories you’ll find here are riveting and special. Submission guidelines specifically call out their interest in adding new voices to the mix, and they pay $150 for personal essays.
Submission Guidelines; Editor Q&A with Lilly Dancyger of Narratively
Buzzfeed READER – A strong voice that speaks to readers is what READER is looking for in the personal essays they publish. Pretty much any topic can work, though they suggest money, family, food, religion, sexuality, relationships, disability, illness (mental or physical), hormones, race, body image, drugs, and travel. They also encourage critical essays on cultural aspects such as books, technology, sports, entertainment, celebrities, politics, and fashion. And don’t forget, this is Buzzfeed people, so you are talking about a large audience. READER promotes their rates as competitive.
Mothers Always Write – One of the smaller publication on this list, MAW publishes literary essays about “the mothering experience” whether that be young children, teens and tweens, or adults. Mothers Always Write pays $25 for pieces selected in their published issues, and nominates for a number of awards including the Pushcart Prize. Check guidelines for suggested themes.
Submission Guidelines; Editor Q&A with Julianne Palumbo of Mothers Always Write
The Sunlight Press – The newest publication on this list, “The Sunlight Press is a digital literary journal that provides a home to new and established voices…We want to hear the ways people turn toward light and hope, whether it is through the arts, culture, spirituality, or humor, and also how they respond to the darkness and navigate unknown spaces.” Rates are unpublished, however TSP does pay writers
Chicken Soup for the Soul – At any given point in time, CSFTS usually has 4-5+ open calls to submit stories for their possible book topics. While many authors return to write for more than one book, they are always looking for new writers. Submissions are very competitive and can take months or more to hear back, however, published authors rave about this publication and the benefits received. Benefits include $200 for a published story, major bragging rights, 10 free copies of the book you appear in, discounted books, and exclusive CSFTS author communications.
Submission Guidelines; How To Get Published In Chicken Soup For The Soul With Editor-in-Chief Amy Newmark
Compiled By H. Lovelyn Bettison
The following is a list of 30 magazines, newspapers, and websites that pay for personal essays. Included is a wide variety of publishers, covering many specialties and topics. For even more publishers seeking submissions, grab a copy of the Paid Publishing Guidebook.
- The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe accepts personal essays about relationships for their Connections section. The essays should be about 650 words. Please send an email with “Query” as the subject line to email@example.com to pitch your essay.
- Extra Crispy
Extra Crispy pays for personal essays about food. The articles they publish have a conversational tone with a bit of humor. http://www.extracrispy.com/culture/185/how-to-pitch-extra-crispy
Dame is a women’s magazine. They don’t have a submissions page, but do provide an email address for pitches: firstname.lastname@example.org://www.damemagazine.com/
Kveller is a parenting magazine that accepts personal essays about parenting and women’s issues as seen through a Jewish lens. http://www.kveller.com/article/submission-guidelines/ They pay $25 per post.
- The New York Times: Modern Love
The New York Times Modern Love is looking for essays about love and relationships in modern times payment $300. The desired length for essays is 1500 to 1700. The submission page is old, but still up to date. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/fashion/howtosubmit_modernlove.html?_r=1&
- The New York Times: Lives
New York Times Lives accepts essays about meaningful life experiences. http://www.nytimes.com/column/lives Read the section to get an idea of what they want and send pitches to email@example.com
Salon publishes personal essays. Send your pitches in the body of the email not as an attachment. They also would like to know about your background and what makes you qualified to write the piece you’re proposing. http://www.salon.com/about/submissions/
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. http://www.slate.com/articles/briefing/contact_us/2006/08/whereto_find_slate_staff.html
Slice is a print magazine based in Brooklyn. They accept short fiction and personal essays. Submissions will open again on April 1. They pay $250
- The Smart Set
The Smart Set is an online magazine about arts and culture, science, and global and national affairs. http://thesmartset.com/about-us/#submissions
- The Billfold
The Billfold is a publication about money. They accept personal essays about your experiences with money, saving, and debt. https://thebillfold.com/about
- MotherwellMotherwell is a parenting magazine that looks for personal essays that take a novel angle on parenting. Essays should be up to 1200 words. https://motherwellmag.com/submissions/
- Tin House
Tin House is a literary journal that publishes personal essays up to 10,000 words. They have themed issues and only accept unsolicited submissions in September and March. http://www.tinhouse.com/magazine/submission-guidelines.html
Narratively is devoted to untold human stories. They accept pitches and completed essays. http://narrative.ly/contribute/
Guideposts is looking for your true stories of inspiration and hope. Submit completed essays via the submission form on their website. https://www.guideposts.org/tell-us-your-story
- The Christian Science Monitor: Home Forum
Home Forum publishes upbeat personal essays that are 600 to 800 words in length. The payment is $75. http://www.csmonitor.com/About/Contributor-guidelines/Contributor-Guidelines-The-Home-Forum
- The Establishment
The Establishment is a multimedia publication that encourages diversity. They accept essays 800 to 1,500 words long and pay $125. https://theestablishment.co/pitch-us-b0788d803a0b#.34no26v7l
- The Sun
The Sun is a literary journal that is mainly interested in personal stories. They pay $300-$2000 for personal essays up to 7,000 words. http://thesunmagazine.org/about/submission_guidelines/writing
Skirt is a women’s magazine that publishes essays that are about 800 to 1100 words long. Each issue of the magazine has a theme. Look at their editorial calender for subjects. They pays $200 per essay. http://www.skirt.com/contribute/
- Travels’ Tales
Travels’ Tales publishes your travel essays in their anthologies. They pay $100 per essay. http://travelerstales.com/submission-guidelines/
- Brain, Child
Brain, Child is an award-winning literary magazine for mothers. They pay for personal essays on parenting. https://www.brainchildmag.com/about/writers-guidelines/
- Chicken Soup for the Soul
Chicken Soup for the Soul releases themed books throughout the year. They accept uplifting essays that are less than 1200 words. The pay is $200. http://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/possible-book-topics
Backpacker has a Destinations section where they publish first person accounts of outdoor experiences. The pay is $0.40-$1 per word http://www.backpacker.com/backpacker-contributor-s-guidelines/
- Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine focuses on music, movies, TV, videogames, comedy, books and more. They do accept personal essays. Read past essays to get an idea about what they are looking for. Pay varies. https://www.pastemagazine.com/paste/2012/03/writer-guidelines.html
- True Story
True Story is published by Creative Nonfiction. They accept personal essay between 5000-10000 words and pay $300. https://www.creativenonfiction.org/submissions/true-story
- Good Old Days
Good Old Days accepts personal essays about growing up between 1935 and 1960. They should be informal and conversational in tone. Payment varies. http://www.goodolddaysmagazine.com/contributor_guidelines.php
- AARP Magazine
AARP Magazine publishes thoughtful, timely personal essays that are relevant to people over 50. Payment varies. http://www.aarp.org/about-aarp/info-05-2010/writers-guidelines-aarp-magazine.html
Broadly is a website devoted to representing a wide variety of women’s experiences. They publish personal essays. https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/page/about
- The Three Penny Review
The Three Penny Review is a literary magazine that publishes both fiction and creative nonfiction. They pay $400 per story or article. http://www.threepennyreview.com/submissions.html
- Vox First Person
Vox First Person is dedicated to publishing thoughtful, in-depth first person narratives. They pay, but don’t list the rates on their site. http://www.vox.com/2015/6/12/8767221/vox-first-person-explained