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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com://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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
How (and Where!) To Pitch Your Writing
This is a way more readable version of this thread on Twitter.
How do you craft a good pitch?
Several editors (and former editors, including yours truly) have the following tips:
- Pitch a human being. Most editors are on twitter and their email addresses are pretty accessible if you google around a bit. Do not pitch to a “email@example.com” address unless you want your pitch to disappear into the trash heap. Also, media turnover is real. Double-check that an editor is still at the publication before you pitch them.
- Know who you’re pitching. ~Read the publication.~ Tell the editor why your pitch is perfect for their outlet. Your job is to solve problems for an editor, not create them. So explain how your pitch fills a hole in their coverage or presents an angle their readers will be interested in. Never blast the same pitch to dozens of publications without changing a word.
- Know which section you’re pitching. Different editors at the same publication are often looking for different things. Oh, and not everyone can write 5,000 word features right out of the gate. Start with smaller pitches and work your way up.
- Pitch a story, not a topic. “Animal rights” is a topic. “A liontamer who is reinventing her profession to be more animal-friendly” is a story. Er, it could be a story if you‘ve met this liontamer and she is willing to be interviewed on the record. (Are liontamers real? I just made this up.) Be specific and lead with the tension. I’ll quote phenom Megan Greenwell, who is a features editor at Esquire: “so many pitches mention a person saw ‘many challenges,’ but the story IS the challenges. you must know how to frame your story.”
- Be original. Know what else has been written on this subject, and explain why your angle is fresh.
- Write an excellent subject line. If you wouldn’t be tempted to click it as a headline, it’s not a good pitch subject line.
- Don’t attach a full draft, even if you already have one written. Let the editor green-light the pitch first, then go back to your draft and reframe it according to your editors’ requests.
- Include links to relevant clips. If you’re pitching a reported feature, make sure you’re sharing a few links to reported features you’ve done in the past. If you’re pitching an essay, include links to first-person writing. Etc.
- Do not lead with your bio. You can put in a few lines about yourself near the end, but editors have Google. They‘ll find more about you if they want to. And speaking of…
- Know that editors will Google you. Make sure they find your personal website or portfolio when they do.
- Be able to follow through. Don’t pitch a celebrity profile if you don’t already have access. Don’t pitch an investigative piece if you don’t know how to begin reporting it.
- Don’t write for zero dollars. Before you pitch, know what the publication has paid writers in the past. And before you agree to write something, be sure you know what you’re getting paid. Ask for a contract every time, and read it before you sign it, especially the sections about intellectual property rights and payment (including kill fees). Let me repeat that: READ YOUR CONTRACTS. They are the only flimsy things protecting you at all. At least know what you’ve signed on to.
Now, where do you send your stellar pitch?
A few ideas:
*NOTE: Please do your own homework before pitching any of these editors! All of these calls for pitches are public, but some might be outdated.
- Fusion Voices: “longer, more considered essays and narrative features from progressive writers.”
- Vox: The Big Idea and First Person series
- California Sunday has a magazine’s contributor guide that they’ll email you if you ask: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Atavist: “longform, character-driven, narrative nonfiction stories”
- Eater: “We’re primarily interested in reported stories rather than personal narratives, though we welcome reporting in which the writer is present, or that is informed by personal experience and insight. We are most excited by stories where food and restaurants intersect with, illuminate, or are illuminated by other subjects: business, technology, history, science, politics, society, activism, identity, the arts, pop culture, etc.” More tips & info from editor Helen Rosner.
- The Outline: “Our coverage focuses on three topics that are increasingly converging in strange and important ways: power (who has it, who wants it, and what do they do when they get it?), culture (the way we live and communicate), and the future (where we’re going next).”
- Quartz Ideas: “we’re interested in stories that have some aspect of economics, technology, policy, science, health, management or business at their cores. Since nearly half our readers are outside of the US, we’re also interested in stories that originate from or discuss international issues.”
- Electric Literature: “personal and critical essays, as well as humor that reflects on the world of reading, writing, literature, and storytelling in all its forms.”
- Racked: “we’re particularly interested in: the intersection of politics and fashion and beauty; how technology is impacting shopping; and diversity (or the lack thereof) of all kinds across the retail, fashion, and beauty landscape.”
- Southwest the Magazine: “most of our features *aren’t* travel stories, they’re just good stories you happen to read while you’re traveling.”
- BuzzFeed Reader: “always looking for smart cultural crit (essays on movies/tv, celebs, music, books, sports, style, politics, ETC)”
- Esquire: Reported features, not news stories or essays.
- 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.”
- Guardian US features: Lots of very specific advice here! Plus “I want good STORIES first and foremost. I want characters, twist and turns, suspense, color, beautiful writing. I can’t stress this enough. This is features writing, not straight-reporting.”
- National Public Radio
- Parade Magazine: Reported health pieces. No essays.
- Narratively: “we like stories with a narrative; stories where something actually happens. That means active, engaging scenes described vividly.”
- Topic: Specific calls for pitches on topics that change monthly!
- Extra Crispy: “Opinion pieces, reported stories, personal essays, works of humor, illustrated narratives, breakfast-y profiles, original recipes, how-tos and unusual points of view on the beloved morning meal are all welcome. We don’t do restaurant reviews.”
- Bustle: “personal essays, think pieces pegged to events in news, pop culture or feminism, editorials, reported pieces, experiments, and really, any other super-strong work you’d like to reach a large audience with.”
- Cosmopolitan: “funny, heartwarming, cringe-worthily relatable essays, opinions, and rants about sex & relationships!”
- Mother Jones: “We’re interested in just about anything that will raise our readers’ eyebrows, but we focus especially on these areas: national politics, environmental issues, corporate wrongdoing, human rights, and political influence in all spheres.”
Once you’ve gotten the assignment…
Remember that editing is a collaborative process. So don’t get your feelings hurt when your editor suggests changes. And don’t be too precious about your words: It’s the editor’s job to make sure your work a good fit for their publication. If you want to retain 100% control, self-publish on your own website or Tumblr or Medium or whatever.
Also, share the wealth. If you found this post useful, please be generous with your contacts and information in turn. This is not a zero-sum game. All writers benefit when we (and editors) are open about the pitching process.
Because I’m not going to keep updating this post, look to the following people/places: