The editors of over 400 print publications and many more online zines regularly publish personal essays.
When guidelines are posted on a publication’s website, I have linked directly to them. Publications that don’t post submissions guidelines will send them if you request them by mail and enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
Some of the publications below pay for essays. Others, usually literary magazines or online zines, may not. They offer you a showcase for your work and a publication credit that will help you as you try to break into high paying essay markets.
Do read several issues of a publication before you submit your work. This will give you a clear sense of the style of writing and the subject matter these publications seek and will boost your chances of success.
Kay Marie Porterfield
Angels on Earth Magazine is published by Guideposts. They seek true personal stories about encounters with angels. The length they require is 1,500 words and payment is $100 to $400.
Backpacker features a regular “Backcountry” section that runs 1,200 word personal essays about lessons learned backpacking. Story is the key to writing for them. Payment is $.60 to $1.00 per word.
Bereavement: A Magazine of Hope and Healing is dedicated to helping people through grief. This publication welcomes personal experience pieces of 2,000 words or less. It does not offer financial compensation, but offers writers international exposure and the satisfaction of knowing they are helping others.
Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction, the e-zine published by Creative Non-Fiction is the only publication entirely devoted to this genre. Pieces for Brevity run no more than 750 words. Although this zine is a labor of love and does not pay, it is an excellent showcase for emerging writers.
Cappers seeks personal essays about family issues and home life in the rural Midwest. The editors here are looking for personal essays of up to 300 words that share “humorous, heartwarming, poignant and nostalgic experiences of life.” Payment is $2.00 per column inch.
Chicken Soup for the Soul keeps on going. The Chicken Soup folks are currently looking for stories for Chicken Soup for a Guy’s Soul, Chicken Soup for Body and Soul, Chicken Soup for the Working Woman’s Soul and Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul. Detailed guidelines are posted on their site. They pay $300 for each story they accept.
Country Woman is written for an audience of rural woman, not limited to women who live on farms and ranches. They pay $35 to $150 for personal essays on acceptance. Guidelines are not posted online, but are available upon request and an sase to Reiman Publications, 5400 South 60th Street, Greendale, WI. 53129.
Creative Non-Fiction has themed issues. They feature the best new creative nonfiction writers and are open to personal essays. Guidelines and upcoming themes are posted on their website. They pay $10 per printed page.
Family Fun is published by the Disney company. They print personal essays ranging from humor to inspirational in their “Family Ties” section. These should be about 1,300 words. Payment is $1,500. Guidelines are posted on their site.
Fate Magazine editors look for true mystical experiences for two sections of their publication, My Proof of Survival and True Mystical Experiences. These must be no more than 500 words. Payment is $.10 a word. Electronic submission is encouraged.
Field and Stream has a regular “Finally” department that is the home of an 700 to 800 word essay each month. Send submissions to them at Field and Stream, 2 Park Avenue, NY, NY 10016.
Good Old Days seeks personal experience pieces about life in the 1950s and before. These run from 500 to 1,500 words. Payment is $15 to $75. Pictures help you break in here.
Guideposts wants true, first-person stories about how people have overcome difficulties, gained courage, or developed positive attitudes through faith in God. Payment is $200 to $400.
Hope Magazine, Humanity Making a Difference pays $50 to $2,000 for personal essays about how people have successfully coped with challenges.
Literal Latte is a New York City-based literary magazine that considers unpublished personal essays of up to 6,000 words. The editors of this lively, high-quality literary magazine publish at least one previously unpublished author each month and claim to find 90 percent of their material in the slush pile.
Literary Traveler, a web-based e-zine that draws over 50,000 readers per month, features high-quality writing. They pay $25 for personal essays that focus on creativity and have a travel tie-in.
Marriage Partnership seeks essays from 1,000 to 2,000 words on marriage from a Christian perspective. They pay $.15 a word. Challenging, practical and query first are the bywords here.
Modern Maturity, the monthly publication of the American Association of Retired People, publishes a personal essay column, “My Word,” each month. Study the magazine and query before sending a manuscript. They pay as much as $3,000 for feature articles.
My Private Woebegone Minnesota Public Radio hosts this site that features stories from everyday life. Maximum length is 2,500 words. Stories are posted to the site bi-weekly and are accompanied by a photograph of the author. No payment is offered, but this is a good place to break in.
The New York Times publishes opinion pieces. The New York times magazine also publishes a weekly personal essay in its “Lives” department. They are looking for provocative and fresh viewpoints. The is the maximum length 900 words and payment is $1,000.Study a recent copy for submission details.
The New Works Review is an online literary magazine founded in October, 1997. According to their website, “High school memories, moments of triumph, and life’s important lessons. They’re all fodder in this department.” No financial compensation is offered, but they do offer good exposure.
The North American Review is the oldest literary magazine in North America. They publish essays and prefer those that “address contemporary North American concerns and issues, particularly with the environment, gender, race, ethnicity, and class.” Payment is $25 per printed page.
OnEarth Magazine Formerly called the Amicus Journal, OnEarth is published by the Natural Resources Defense Council. They publish personal essays on nature or the environment.
Petroglyph, a literary journal upblished by the University of Utah English Department, seeks essays that concern nature and people’s connections with it. Payment is in contributor copies.
POZ is a magazine for people whose lives have been affected by the AIDS virus, publishes personal essays in its “Life” section. Payment varies. Check out the archives on their website. Submit material to them at 349 West 12th Street, NY, NY 10014.
Salon.com runs high-quality personal essays online. They accept queries and complete manuscripts via email. Study this zine before submitting.
Smithsonian Magazine prints essays on the “Last Page” that range from 550 to 700 words and usually have a humorous tone. The editors warn, however, that they want personal narrative, not jokes. Payment ranges from $1,000 to $1,500.
The Sun pays from $300 to $750 for essays. They buy 60 manuscripts per year
Teaching Tolerance, published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, pays $50 to $1,000 for reflection essays and personal experience pieces about teaching tolerance in the classroom. These run from 400 to 800 words.
The Threepenny Review, a San Francisco&$045;based literary tabloid, pays $200 for personal experience essays from 1,500 to 4,000 words. They do not accept electronic submissions, but guidelines are available on their website.
Tin House pays $50 to $500 for unsolicited articles and more for assigned articles. The personal experience essays that they print cover a number of topics.
To-Do List is an award-winning magazine that uses the idea of a to-do list as a jumping-off point for explorations into the details of modern living. Essays run from 500 words to 3,000 words. Wit, personal perspective, intelligence and originality are what the editors seek. Because it is a start-up, compensation is in copies, but the exposure is great.
Travelers’ Tales considers personal, nonfiction stories for publication. They pay $.10 per word. Issues are themed. Upcoming themes are posted on their guidelines page.
Utne Reader primarily reprints articles are from alternative publications. The editors encourage writers to publish elsewhere first and then send the reprints to them. The best place to break into the magazine is their “Gleanings” section, which contains personal pieces from 250 to 1,000 words. Utne discusses payment after acceptance.
Woman’s Day pays $2,000 for essays for its “Back Talk page.” These are no more than 750 words. Controversy scores points here. Send work to 1633 Broadway, 42nd Floor, NY, NY 10019.
Zuzu’s Petals publishes essays that celebrate all aspects of the human experience. This site does not pay, but it’s a good place to showcase your work.
Cup of Comfort, the bestselling anthology series, features creative nonfiction stories and narrative essays about the experiences and relationships that comfort, inspire, and enrich our lives. Submissions currently sought for three new volumes: Faith, Love, Spirituality. Additional volumes planned. 1,000-2,000 words. Payment: $500 grand prize (per anthology); $100 each, all other published stories ; plus copy of book.