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Meghan Ward

I'm a freelance writer and book editor represented by Andy Ross of the Andy Ross Literary Agency. You can read an excerpt of my memoir, Paris On Less Than $10,000 A Day, and visit my website for more info about me.

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20 Great Places to Publish Personal Essays

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 TalesTraveler’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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195 comments to 20 Great Places to Publish Personal Essays

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  • jhon

    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.

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  • Jhon

    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. http://educationboardresults.info/

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  • Guest

    Abstract
    Each person is born with unique personal traits which combine together to form his or her self. These personal traits include the psychological, emotional, social, cognitive, physical, and physiological characteristics which constitute the human ‘self’, differentiate people, and distinguish one from another. A person’s self does not remain constant throughout their lives, but it changes over time throughout the different stages of life. In order to prepare this report on the human self, useful dictionaries and specialized websites have been consulted. In this report, a comprehensive examination of the concept of the human self is presented, with a brief personal analysis of the authors self esteem and self recognition. The first page is the table of contents page, the second page is the abstract page, the next pages constitute the research report, and the last page is the references cited page. 

  • Guest

    The Self Concept
    The human self is a complex psychological, emotional, social, and personal entity. Every human being is endowed with a characteristic personality. The human’s internal recognition of this personality is what constitutes the self concept. Psychology expert Kendra Cherry (2014) explains that “Self-concept is the image that we have of ourselves.” She states that “self-concept is composed of two key parts: personal identity and social identity.”A person’s self changes dramatically throughout their different life stages: early childhood, teenage, adulthood, and finally old-age. The changes which occur to the human self are caused by varying social, emotional, cognitive, educational and psychological factors which change correspondingly to the different stages of life. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘self’ as “A person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action” (Oxford Dictionary, 2014). In other words, a person’s internal recognition of himself or herself constitutes the concept of self. Since the dawn of human history, psychologists, philosophers, and scientists have theorized about the essence and nature of the human self. They argued about whether the human self is a material or an immaterial entity. It is argued that the human self is a combination of the human’s thoughts. Loua (2014) indicates in an article on the nature of the human self that the recognition of the emotions, the feelings, and the will “composes the world of self within the mind, body, and soul of our being spirit.” Loua points out that “Thought constructs the self as the function of its expression to be in its form.” From a general perspective, the human self is a logical arrangement and categorization of internal concepts, feelings, emotions, introspections and retrospections which combine together to form this unique entity of human self.

  • Guest

    In conclusion, it goes axiomatically that each and every human being has a distinguished self-perception and self-recognition of their inner selves. The human self is the internal awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, and contemplations. The human self consists of many psychological, emotional, social, physical, and physiological components. These constituents combine together to form this unique self concept in each person. Each aspect of a human’s personality constitutes a human identity which is inseparable from the cluster of other human identities. These personal identities can be personal, psychological, emotional, social, physical, physiological and educational. The personal identity includes such personal traits as being generous, brave, coward, selfish or selfless. The psychological identity includes such features as desires, memories, psychological complexes and emotions. The emotional identity includes the various feelings of happiness, sadness, hopefulness, hopelessness, anger or fear. The social identity includes such elements as religion, culture, ethnicity, race and language. The physical identity includes such physical or bodily characteristics as being white, black, fair, tall, short, fat or thin. The physiological identity includes the personal recognition of being male, female, healthy or ill. The educational identity includes such factors as being literate, illiterates, educated, or uneducated. The personal identity, the psychological identity, the emotional identity, the social identity, the physical identity, the physiological identity and the educational identity all combine together to form one universal identity, namely, that of the human self.
    The human self is a combination of the various feelings which are experienced by the human mind and by the human soul. The human self is the whole collection of fear, love, hatred, jealousy, sad, and happy feelings of the human being. A human’s self is the perception he or she makes of their capacities and defining characteristics. This human self can be highly changeable, imitative and adaptive at the early stages of life when one is exposed to various behavioral and moral patterns or prototypes at home or at school. However, once one fully grows up into the world of adulthood, the human self tends to be formed on a solid basis. While human beings slowly grow up physically, their personal traits, psychological characteristics, and emotional feelings grow and develop with them to form their unique selves.
    The human self intertwines conscious and subconscious feelings and emotions in an internal organization of ideas, morals, ethics and concepts. These ideas, morals, ethics, and concepts recur to the human mind in introspective and retrospective conscious streams or flashes. This conscious stream of ideas, emotions and feelings constitutes the internal psychological recognition and perception of the human self.
    The human self varies from a person to another considerably because it is a peculiar feature to every human being. Since the human self is based on the internal conscious or subconscious ideas, feelings, emotions and contemplations, it can express itself in a variety of ways. It can express itself simply in internal unspoken statements, such as “I am clever,” “I and kindhearted,” or “I am a bad person.” The human self can also express itself by external oral means, such as stating one’s opinions, ideas, emotions, or feelings. Moreover, the human self can express itself in a practical way by, for instance, helping others, taking exercises, working hard, or studying well for an exam. All in all, it is this human self which distinguishes the human species from other beings in this world. It is this miraculous dimension of the human being which characterizes the human soul and gives sense to the very essence of each human’s humanity. 

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