Eight Paying Markets For Your Personal Essays
by Erika Dreifus
Not long ago I was teaching an
evening course at a local adult education center. About halfway through the
session one student posed a question.
“This may be off-topic,” she began. And she wasn’t altogether incorrect
about that. But it was a good question. It was one I’d heard before, and
thought about from time to time myself, and it remained with me long after our
class had ended.
My student wanted to know where she could try placing her personal essays,
beyond the literary journals and reviews that emphasize and/or welcome
“creative nonfiction” while often accepting a painfully small percentage of
the work offered to them.
At first I advised this student not to give up on the literary magazines,
and to think also about some “general interest”
publications, such as the Sunday magazine supplements to major newspapers. But
I soon offered other ideas. Because this student needed to think about what
kind of “personal essays” she was writing. What the essays were really about.
She needed to think more strategically about how she could match them with
This is an approach that can help all of us. While literary and general
interest publications receive a broad range of material, other ‘niche’
publications can truly offer a specific, tailored home for specific, tailored
For example, an essay that's focused on family life may find a home in a
parenting publication. A piece set in a particular location may be perfect for
a regional magazine. Something about a specific vocation (or avocation) may be
just what a trade or association publication is looking for. And then there’s
the issue of tone: some magazines are simply looking for a few laughs.
Take a look at these eight markets for some concrete examples of
publications seeking specific subjects in their essays. Read their guidelines,
their content, their sample copies. Like my student, you shouldn't neglect the
literary or general interest markets. But know that you have other options,
Eight Paying Essay Markets
American Journal of Nursing
Taking a “holistic perspective on health and nursing,” this publication is the
official journal of the American Nurses Association (ANA). For its Reflections
section, the journal welcomes contributions of unpublished essays, 800-850
words, “exploring any aspect of nursing, health, or health care.” Writers need
not be nurses. Payment: $100.
Submissions should be made via an online submission form available at the link
This magazine, published by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, includes a
“Women in the Outdoors Column” that seeks personal essays and stories between
1,000 and 3,000 words in length. These pieces concern “elk, hunting, wildlife
encounters, conservation and land-use issues,” and the magazine is
particularly interested in personal narratives that “evoke emotion and suggest
connections to larger themes or ask (or attempt to answer) questions that
touch the human heart.” Pays $.20/word on acceptance and offers three
A monthly magazine for writers, ByLine includes an “End Piece,” a “strong,
thoughtful, first-person essay” that is related to writing. Pays $35 on
acceptance for a 700-word essay.
Christian Science Monitor
In its “Home Forum,” the Christian Science Monitor publishes “upbeat, personal
essays” from 400-1,100 words on ‘how one responded to a place, a person, a
situation, an event.” Pays $75-$150. (Scroll down for the guidelines for the
“Homefront” section for specific Parenting Column
DownEast: The Magazine of Maine
This magazine's “I Remember” column includes “short narratives about a
personal experience or a unique aspect of life here in Maine” which are “often
humorous or poignant.” Manuscripts may run up to 1,200 words.
Family Tree Magazine
Covering genealogy, ethnic heritage, personal history, and more, this magazine
pays $25 for contributions to the “Everything's Relative”
page, which includes “short, amusing stories of ‘the lighter side of family
(Once you arrive at this page click on “Writer's Guidelines”)
The magazine's “Last Page” monthly humor column features a story that “usually
relates to the writer's own particular experience.” Pieces run 550-700 words.
Publishes personal essays (650 words) in the magazine’s YOU section.
Seeks work that covers “significant issues that concern a large number of
women and families, rather than subjects that impact only a few.”
Pays $2,000 on acceptance.
© Erika Dreifus. All rights reserved.
Erika Dreifus is the editor and publisher of “The Practicing Writer”
newsletter and author, of “The Practicing Writer's Directory of Paying
Essay Markets” and other resource guides for writers. Her essays have
appeared in the Boston Globe, Jewish Journal, Matrix Magazine, and many other
publications. Visit her Web site at http://www.practicing-writer.com
and read her latest Practicing Writing
blog posts at http://www.lulu.com/erika-dreifus