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 $200 for a published story, major bragging rights, 10 free copies of the book you appear in, discounted books, and exclusive CSFTS author communications.
Submission Guidelines; How To Get Published In Chicken Soup For The Soul With Editor-in-Chief Amy Newmark
This is the second in a series of several posts I will be doing about where to publish your personal essays. The first can be found HERE.
So many bloggers have personal essays and narratives they’d like to place on great sites. I love reading personal stories, and occasionally try my hand at writing one myself, though they don’t come easy for me.
Did you know there is a difference between and essay and a narrative? This presentation takes about 30 seconds to click through and gives a way better explanation than I can. For the purposes of this series, I’m going to lump them together, but be sure to check out the submission guidelines for any site you submit to, and see if they specify a preference or any specific nuances they look for in personal stories.
If you have been published in one of the sites and magazines listed here, leave a comment and tell us about your experience!
Baby Boomer-Centric Narratives
BoomerCafe – “Now in its 16th year, BoomerCafe is the original digital magazine for baby boomers with active lifestyles and youthful spirits.” If you were born between the years of 1946 and 1964 and have a story to tell in 500 words or less (I know, I know, that’s a little shorter than the typical essay), try this established site. No pay, but it’s a labor of love. SUBMIT
Looking for an example of a personal essay on this site? Try One Baby Boomer’s Endless Summer by Erin O’Brien
Creative Nonfiction ($)
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!