They’re all over your Facebook feed, and for good reason. Personal essays by popular authors and novices alike are relatable, engrossing reads.
Sometimes, their heart-wrenching reflections stay with you for days.
For reporters or academics, it can be hard to step back from research rituals and write from personal experience. But a personal essay can endear you to an audience, bring attention to an issue, or simply provide comfort to a reader who’s “been there.”
“Writing nonfiction is not about telling your story,” says , an essayist who emphasized the importance of creating a clear connection between your personal experience and universal topics. “It’s about telling interesting and worthy stories about the human condition using examples from your life.”
But don’t worry if your life doesn’t seem exciting or heart-wrenching enough to expound upon; think of it as writing through yourself, instead of about yourself. “There are few heroes and even fewer villains in real life,” she said. “If you’re going to write about your human experience, write the truth. It’s worth it to write what’s real.”
Where to submit your personal essays
Once you’ve penned your essay, which publications should you ? We’ve all heard of — and likely submitted to — The New York Times’ Modern Love column, but that’s not the only outlet that accepts personal narratives.
“Submit to the places you love that publish work like yours,” Ford advises, but don’t get caught up in the size of the publication. And “recognize that at small publications you’re way more likely to find someone with the time to really help you edit a piece.”
To help you find the right fit, we’ve compiled a list of 20 publications that accept essay submissions, as well as tips on how to pitch the editor, who to and, whenever possible, how much the outlet pays.
We’d love to make this list even more useful, so if you have additional ideas or details for these publications or others, please leave them below in the comments!
The Boston Globe Magazine Connections section seeks 650-word first-person essays on relationships of any kind. It pays, though how much is unclear. Submit to [email protected] with “query” in the subject line.
Must-read personal essay: “,” by Art Sesnovich
about breakfast, brunch, or the culture of mornings to or the editor of the section you’re pitching. Pay appears to be around 40 cents per word.
Must-read personal essay: Gina Vaynshteyn’s “”
This publication is aimed at women over 30. “We aim to entertain, inform, and inspire,” the editors , “But mostly entertain.” Send your pitch to [email protected]. Pay varies.
Must-read personal essay: By Ann Votaw
Essays — 4,000 words max — should have a “literary quality.” Include your work in the body of your email to make it easy for the editor to review, and send to [email protected] No pay.
Must-read personal essay: by Gina Easley.
Want to write for this Jewish parenting site? To submit, email [email protected] with “submission” somewhere in the subject line. Include a brief bio, information, and your complete original blog post of 700 words max. Suggested word count is 500-700 words. The site pays $25 per post.
Must-read personal essay: B.J. Epstein’s “”
A progressive, feminist magazine that welcomes all genders to submit content. your pitch or full submission. There’s no pay, but it’s a supportive place for a first-time essayist.
Must-read personal essay: “” by Joanna C. Valente
This U.K. magazine has a helpful . Unsolicited submissions, while rarely accepted, are paid; if an editor likes your pitch, you’ll hear back in 24 hours.
Must-read personal essay: “,” by Dave Eggers
The popular Modern Love feature accepts submissions of 1,700 words max at [email protected] Include a Word attachment, but also paste the text into your message. Consult the Times’ page on first, and like Modern Love on for even more insight. Rumor has it that a successful submission will earn you $250. (Correction added Oct. 9, 2014: Payment is $300, The New York Times writes on its .)
Amy Sutherland’s column, “,” which ran in 2006, landed her a book contract with Random House and a movie deal with Lionsgate, which is in preproduction. “I never saw either coming,” Sutherland said.
Another option is the Lives column in the New York Times Magazine. To submit, email [email protected]
Must-read personal essay: “” by Nina Riggs
Salon accepts articles and story pitches to the appropriate section with “Editorial Submission” in the subject line and the query/submission in the body of the email. Include your writing background or qualifications, along with links to three or four clips.
“I was compensated $150 for my essay,” says Alexis Grant, founder of The Write Life, “but that was several years ago. All in all, working with the editor there was a great experience.” reports average pay of about 10 cents per word.
Must-read personal essay: “,” by Alexis Grant
Indicate the section you’re pitching and “article submission” in your subject line, and send to [email protected] Average reported pay is about 23 cents per word.
Must-read personal essay: Justin Peters’ “”
Each print issue has a specific cultural theme and welcomes both fiction and nonfiction. Stories and essays of 5,000 words max earn up to $250. Review periods are limited, so check their submission guidelines to make sure your work will be read with the next issue in mind. Submit .
Must-read personal essay: “,” by Christopher Locke
The Billfold hopes to make discussing money less awkward and more honest. Send your pitch to . Who Pays Writers notes a rate of about , but this writer would consider the experience and exposure to be worth the low pay.
Must-read personal essay: “,” by Paulette Perhach
Motherwell seeks parenting-related personal essay submissions of up to 1200 words. Submit a full piece; all contributors are paid.
Must-read personal essay: “” by Tanya Mozias Slavin
This publication focuses on California’s Bay Area. Strong POV and a compelling personal writing style are key. Pay varies. Email .
Must-read personal essay: “,” by Rhea St. Julien
Submit essays of 800-2000 words to this lifestyle site geared toward women. Pay about 5 cents per word.
Must-read personal essay: “” by Kaleigh Roberts
Focuses on essays that “intersect culture.” Submit finished essays in the category that fits best. Wait three months before following up.
Must-read personal essay: “” by Michelle Miller
This personal-finance website welcomes submissions that discuss ways to make or save money. Read the before emailing your submission. Pay varies.
Must-read personal essay: “” by Maggie Moore
a story or essay of 10,000 words max in either September or March. Wait six days before emailing to check the status of your submission. Cover letters should include a word count and indicate whether the submission is fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.
Must-read personal essay: “,” by Rachel Yoder
Narratively accepts pitches and complete pieces between 1,000 and 2,000 words that tell “original and untold human stories.” Pay averages 6 cents per word.
Must-read personal essay: “” by Sherry Amatenstein
Still looking for ideas? ’s blog post, “20 Great Places to Publish Personal Essays,” is worth perusing. MediaBistro also offers a section called How to Pitch as part of their , which has an annual fee of $55.
This post originally ran in October 2014. We updated it in December 2016.
Have other ideas or details to add? Share with us in the comments!