24 of the Best Places to Submit Creative Nonfiction Online

Sean Glatch  |  March 31, 2021  |  2 Comments

creative nonfiction abstract landscape

After weeks of deliberating over the right words and fine-tuning your creative nonfiction piece , you’re ready to begin submitting to literary nonfiction journals. The only problem is finding the right home for your creative nonfiction submission. What journals or literary nonfiction magazines should you prioritize submitting your work to?

Find your answer here: we’ve searched the net for great creative nonfiction journals, and any of the following 24 publications is a wonderful home for creative nonfiction—guaranteed.

If you’re looking to submit multiple genres of work, take a look at the best places to submit poetry and the best places to submit fiction , too!

24 Creative Nonfiction Magazines to Submit To

Just like our other guides on the best literary journals to submit to, we’ve divided this article into three different categories:

  • Great journals to secure your first publications in
  • Competitive journals for writers with previous publications
  • High-tier creative nonfiction journals at the summit of publishing

Any publication in the following 24 journals is sure to jumpstart your literary career. So, let’s explore the best nonfiction magazines and journals!

Creative Nonfiction Magazines: Great First Publications

The following eight journals sponsor creative nonfiction from both emerging and established writers, making them great opportunities for writers in any stage of their journey.

1. Sundog Lit

Sundog Lit loves the weird and experimental, and it regularly seeks innovative nonfiction for its biannual journal. All submitted works should be well-researched and play with both form and content. Submit your hybrid content to this great creative nonfiction journal!

2. River Teeth Journal

River Teeth Journal specializes in narrative nonfiction. The journal operates with the motto “Good Writing Counts and Facts Matter,” which captures their preference for well-researched and thoughtfully composed CNF. Literary nonfiction submissions are open twice a year, typically between September and May.

3. Atticus Review

Atticus Review posts daily nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. They publish work that is unabashed and resilient, finding hope in even the toughest of situations. All published works after September 19th, 2020 receive a $10 award from this creative nonfiction journal!

4. Barren Magazine

Barren Magazine publishes nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and photography, preferring works with grit and muster. Each publication of this creative nonfiction magazine includes prompts: for their 17th issue, the prompts are “unorthodox, sensational, kinetic, quixotic, & transcendent.”

5. The Offing

The editors at The Offing look for work that’s innovative, genre-bending, and challenges conventions. The Offing is especially keen to support both new and established authors, making them a welcome home for your creative nonfiction submissions.

6. Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse sponsors emerging and diverse voices in its biannual publication. Submissions for this journal remain open between September and May, and they typically range between 2,500 and 5,000 words. This is a great literary journal to submit to for writers of all styles and narratives!

7. Dogwood: a Journal of Poetry and Prose

Dogwood is a journal of poetry and prose based out of Fairfield University. This annual publication only opens for submissions in the Fall, and each edition includes prizes for top pieces. Literary nonfiction from all walks of life are welcome here.

8. Montana Mouthful

Straight out of the Treasure State, Montana Mouthful seeks “just a mouthful” of fiction and nonfiction. Creative nonfiction submissions should not exceed 2,000 words but should still deliver a cogent, memorable story.

Creative Nonfiction Magazines: Reputable Literary Journals to Submit To

The following literary magazines and creative nonfiction journals can be tough competition, but with a few previous publications under your belt and a special story ready for print, the following journals could jumpstart your literary career. All of these journals have fantastic literary nonfiction examples!

9. Conjunctions

Conjunctions publishes daring works of poetry and prose, living by its motto to “Read Dangerously!” Submitted works should provoke, excite, and linger with the reader. Conjunctions publishes both a biannual magazine and a weekly online journal, both of which house fantastic literary journalism.

10. Black Warrior Review

Black Warrior Review is a biannual literary journal run by the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. This Whiting Awarded journal nurtures groundbreaking literary nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, with many of its authors going on to win Pushcarts and Best of the Net prizes!

11. Hippocampus

Hippocampus Magazine is one of the best creative nonfiction magazines out there, as it focuses solely on the publication of personal essays and nonfiction stories. Their strictly digital publication is highly literary and has many great creative nonfiction examples and pieces. Despite being a highly competitive journal, both new and emerging writers can find a home at Hippocampus .

12. American Literary Review

The American Literary Review , run out of the University of North Texas, publishes engaging and precise stories and poetry. The journal is currently on hiatus, but read some of its back issues and you’ll understand why it’s a great literary journal to submit to.

13. Fourth Genre

Fourth Genre is a biannual creative nonfiction journal published through Michigan State University. The journal amplifies diverse and powerful voices, seeking stories that are refreshing, earnest, and imaginative. Fourth Genre only publishes nonfiction, so read its back issues for some great creative nonfiction examples!

14. The Cincinnati Review

The Cincinnati Review is interested in literary nonfiction that can “knock your socks off.” Submissions for personal essays are open between September and January; writers can also submit flash nonfiction year-round to its miCRo series.

15. Creative Nonfiction

“True stories, well told” is the motto of Creative Nonfiction , the aptly-named journal of all things CNF. Creative Nonfiction celebrates a diverse range of voices and experiences, championing both new and established essayists. Between its literary publications and its creative nonfiction blog, writers can learn a lot from this journal. Send your creative nonfiction submissions to Creative Nonfiction !

16. Witness

Witness publishes prose and poetry that examines and analyzes the modern day. They seek stories about modern issues and events, often publishing bold and eclectic takes on serious issues. Witness is a more politically-oriented journal, making it a leader in contemporary literary journalism.

Creative Nonfiction Magazines: The Summit of Literary Nonfiction

The following journals are notoriously difficult to publish in, as writers often have to have a name built for themselves in the literary world. Nonetheless, the following publications exist at the summit of CNF, so keep these publications on your radar as top literary journals to submit to.

AGNI , a highly literary publication run at Boston University, publishes fiery, transformative prose and poetry. Creative nonfiction submissions should be polished, inventive, and highly original. Be sure to read their previous publications for an idea of what they look for!

18. The Atlantic

The Atlantic is well-respected for its literary journalism, making it a premier publisher of creative nonfiction. Though many of its published pieces are solicited, The Atlantic is always looking for fresh, bold stories and poetry, so it’s a premier place for nonfiction magazine submissions.

Salon does not present itself as a creative nonfiction journal, but many of its previous magazine issues are highly literary in nature, examining current issues with a sharp, educated lens. If you have nonfiction stories that are both personal and global in nature, Salon accepts queries for articles and editorials, so check them out!

20. The Antioch Review

The Antioch Review is a real page-turner, as their past publications can attest to. This highly literary journal publishes fantastic prose and poetry, and if you have a creative nonfiction piece that’s riveting and influential, The Antioch Review is looking for your creative nonfiction submissions.

21. The Colorado Review

The Colorado Review is a tri-annual publication steeped in history, with original issues featuring poetry and prose from Langston Hughes, E. E. Cummings, Henry Miller, etc. The journal is committed to contemporary literature, seeking voices that are transformative and capture today’s (or tomorrow’s) zeitgeist. The Colorado Review is a fantastic space for literary journalism and will certainly welcome your creative nonfiction.

22. The Virginia Quarterly

The Virginia Quarterly publishes a wide array of literary nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, promising both ample readership and ample pay. VQR seeks inventive and imaginative stories, and it accepts both personal essays and nonfiction pieces on literary and cultural criticism. Submissions are generally open in July, but keep tuned for any special announcements or brief reading periods!

23. New England Review

New England Review is a quarterly publication of all things literary. The journal is dedicated to publishing both emerging and established voices, though it remains a highly competitive journal for creative nonfiction. NER is a great literary journal to submit to for stories that are engaged, critical, and sparkling.

24. North American Review

The North American Review is the oldest literary magazine in the United States. Since its inception in 1815, it remains one of the best nonfiction magazines to submit to, publishing strong literary voices with imaginative story arcs and moving messages. Nonfiction magazine submissions at North American Review are always spectacular—go check them out!

Tips for Publishing Your Creative Nonfiction Submissions

“How do I get my nonfiction published with so many other voices in the room?” This is a question we hear often, and as writers in the modern day, we can’t help but notice how diverse the publishing world is, and how everything “has already been written.” How can you make sure your story gets published in the right creative nonfiction magazines?

Of course, no story is guaranteed publication, but if you’ve written an earnest, sparkling story with grit, character, and truth, then the right literary journals to submit to are in this list. Additionally, you can boost your chances of success with the following publishing tips:

Start With a Powerful Title

Your creative nonfiction submissions should draw the reader in right away, which means starting with an attention-grabbing title. Your title could be a singular and obscure word, or it could be a long description, or anything in-between—the goal is to stand out while representing your story faithfully.

Here are some great titles we saw from a brief glance at the literary nonfiction examples from Hippocampus :

  • Bar Bathroom Graffiti in New Orleans: A One Year Catalog by Kirsten Reneau
  • Necrokedeia for Children by Mark Hall
  • Ford Motor Company Tells Me About Perseverance by Alexis Annunziata

These titles give you an idea about the story itself while also drawing you in with wit, humor, or obscurity. Literary editors have thousands of stories to read each year; give them something to notice so you can stand out among the rest!

Follow the Creative Nonfiction Journal’s Formatting Guidelines

A surefire way to receive rejections on your literary nonfiction is to ignore the formatting guidelines. Each journal has its own requirements, though they often align with MLA formatting requirements, but be sure you follow the journal’s instructions faithfully, or else they may discard your submission without even reading it.

Read the Creative Nonfiction Magazine’s Past Issues

The 24 publications mentioned in this article are some of the best nonfiction magazines in the world, in part because they adhere so strongly to their tastes and preferences. As such, no two journals are alike, and each publication has its own expectations for the nonfiction they read and publish. Before you submit your creative nonfiction, be sure to read some past publications and gauge whether your essay will fit in with the journal’s literary tastes.

Keep Track of Your Submissions

Many creative nonfiction journals allow simultaneous submissions, meaning you can submit the same piece to multiple journals. However, if one journal accepts your work, you need to notify the other journals that it has been accepted and is no longer available for consideration.

Keeping track of your creative nonfiction submissions in a spreadsheet or personal organizer is essential: if multiple journals publish your story, it could harm your chances of getting published in the future.

Aim High—But Not Too High

Your personal essay deserves to be read, but if you’re only submitting to journals like VQR or The Atlantic, it might never see the light of day. Part of the publishing process means building your publication history and portfolio.

Your literary journalism will one day get published in Salon or the New York Times, but until then, focus on getting recognized in smaller and medium sized journals—and don’t let rejections bring you down, because it’s only up from here!

Fine-Tune Your Creative Nonfiction Submissions with Writers.com

Looking for extra help on writing your personal essay, lyric essay, or hybrid nonfiction piece? The instructors at Writers.com are ready to assist you. Gain valuable insight and diverse perspectives on your nonfiction stories before submitting them to the 24 creative nonfiction magazines we’ve listed.

Good luck, and happy writing!

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by Writing Workshops Staff

5 months ago

  • #How to Get Published
  • #How to PItch to Your Dream Publication
  • #Literary Journal Submissions
  • #Literary Journals
  • #Path to Publication
  • #Publishing
  • #Publishing Advice
  • #Publishing Short Story Collections
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How to Publish Short Stories, Poems, and Personal Essays in Literary Journals and Magazines

How to Publish Short Stories, Poems, and Personal Essays in Literary Journals and Magazines

In the age of digital media and online literary magazines, it's easier than ever to get your work read by editors and/or gatekeepers. If you've been itching to share your original poetry, fiction, non-fiction, or hybrid essay with the world, this post will help you find the perfect place to do that.

Never before have so many journals, magazines, and websites focused on literature opened their virtual doors to new and emerging writers. That said, sifting through all the options can feel a little overwhelming at first glance.

For anyone looking to get their creative writing in front of readers, this list is an excellent resource for identifying top literary magazines that accept submissions from emerging writers.

What is a Literary Magazine?

Literary magazines publish short stories, poetry, and non-fiction essays on arts and culture. They're usually independently owned and operated. Some of the most well-known literary magazines include T he Paris Review, The New Yorker , and  McSweeney's . Generally, most literary magazines have a specific theme, aesthetic, and tone. Before submitting, it's essential to ensure your work fits the publication's guidelines. Some literary magazines accept submissions only from current students and alumni of certain universities. Others want to see work published in other journals and magazines first. Still, others will accept submissions from all writers, regardless of their publishing history.

How to Find the Right Literary Magazine for You

Maybe you've read the much-shared article titled " Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year " at  Lit Hub.  If not, give it a read and see what you think (and maybe start collecting your first of 100 rejections this year). 

Literary magazines accept submissions year-round and usually have guidelines posted on their website. Before submitting, make sure to read their submission guidelines carefully. Typically, literary magazines accept unsolicited submissions; this is when you submit a piece of writing directly to a literary magazine editor without them having invited you to do so in advance. 

You may have done this if you've been browsing a journal, found an editor's name, and sent them your work directly. Some literary magazines prefer that writers submit their work this way, while others won't even consider an unsolicited submission. 

You can also look out for Calls for Submissions. This is when a literary magazine editor invites writers to submit work on a particular theme or for a specific issue. They may also invite you to submit multiple pieces for different issues. Journals often publish a call for submissions on their website, social media, and newsletters. 

Literary Journal & Magazine Submission Resources

Go to  pw.org  ( @poetswritersinc ) to research lit mags, small presses, and find calls for submissions & contests.

Go to  newpages.com  ( @newpages ) to discover writing contests, calls for submissions, and research lit mags.

Go to  thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com  to check how long responses typically take for poetry & fiction subs. You can also track your submissions here.

Use  rejectionwiki.com  to check if you received a tiered or personal rejection vs. their standard rejection.

22 Journals to Submit Your Work to Now

If you like to write, you've probably thought about publishing your work in a literary journal or magazine. But with so many journals and magazines, it can take time to figure out where to start.

First, you'll want to find out which literary magazines publish short stories, poetry, and non-fiction essays. Next, you'll want to ensure your work fits the publication's aesthetic, theme, and tone. Finally, you'll want to follow the editors' submission guidelines to ensure your work gets noticed.

With these three steps, you'll be well on your way to getting published. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and share your words with the world. Here are just a few examples of excellent literary journals you can submit to now:

  • American Short Fiction
  • Fantasy & Science Fiction
  • Granta Magazine
  • Harvard Review
  • Palette Poetry
  • Ploughshares  
  • Split Lip Mag
  • SmokeLong Quarterly  
  • Southeast Review
  • Strange Horizons  
  • The Antioch Review  
  • The Atlantic
  • The Kenyon Review  
  • The Raleigh Review  
  • The Sun Magazine
  • The Threepenny Review  
  • The New Yorker
  • Thrush Poetry Journal  
  • Virginia Quarterly Review

Publishing in Literary Journals to Launch Your Career

Led by Writing Workshops Founder & Executive Director, Blake Kimzey , this path-to-publication seminar walks participants through his journey to publication. They say in order to be universal one must be specific, so Blake shares receipts from his 10+ years of sending work to literary journals, overcoming 900+ rejections, and receiving 10 emails from agents inquiring about his work (screen shots abound!). You can read about the successes past participants of this seminar have had finding publication here , here , here , & here .

Sign Up for Blake's Seminar Here

Blake shows participants the importance of perseverance, being findable, and participating in the literary community beyond their own work. Blake screen captures his entire journey, shares best practices, and will hopefully inspire you along the way. You'll walk away from this seminar inspired to set manageable and reachable goals along with meaningful strategies to get your work out into the world.

This is a good fit for writers who are:

  • Interested in submitting their work to literary journals
  • Looking to create a more robust writing and submission practice
  • Desiring to implement an individual system for their professional development


  • A 2-hour, in-depth video seminar
  • Example Literary Journal Cover Letters + Real Examples
  • Blake's Query Letter
  • A template on how to summarize your story, essay, or book manuscript
  • A PDF of Blake's PowerPoint presentation

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Writing Tips Oasis

Writing Tips Oasis

17 Top Publishers of Essay Collections

By Hiten Vyas

publishers of essay collections

Have you written a collection of essays?

Do you now want to publish your work? If so, it makes sense to find a publishing house that has experience in publishing essays.

Continue reading to find out about 17 top publishers of essay collections.

1. Coffee House Press

Coffee House Press is an independent publishing house based in Minneapolis. Founded in 1972, it started out as a small letterpress operation before evolving into an internationally recognized publisher of poetry, essays, and literary fiction. Today, Coffee House Press continues to publish the works of both emerging and established writers, acting as a catalyst between authors and readers.

Coffee House Press has annual reading periods during which they are open for submissions of novels, essay collections, and long-form essays. There is no set length requirement for submissions, but they do not accept single essays, single poems, and chapbooks. Do note that Coffee House Press only accepts 300 submissions per reading period, so make sure you submit as soon as the reading period begins. Visit their Submittable page to learn more about their submission guidelines. For general inquiries, you can reach Coffee House Press here .

2. Red Hen Press

Located in Los Angeles, Red Hen Press was founded by Mark E. Cull and Kate Gale in 1994 out of their desire to keep creative literature alive. And that desire is still the foundation of everything they do—from publishing outstanding literary works, to promoting literacy in local schools. Red Hen Press publishes non-fiction, literary fiction, and poetry—particularly novels, memoirs, essay collections, poetry collections, creative non-fiction, and hybrid works. To get a better idea of the kind of work they usually publish, you can check out their catalog and submission guidelines .

They are currently accepting unsolicited submissions via their Submittable page , and interested authors may submit a completed manuscript or a sample of at least 20 pages. It usually takes them 3 to 6 months to respond to submissions.

publishers of essays

3. Two Dollar Radio

Two Dollar Radio is a small, family-run press that has garnered national acclaim since its establishment in 2005. They publish original, creative, and subversive books that defy conventional storytelling. Some of the authors whose work they have published are Hanif Abdurraqib, Barbara Browning, Mark de Silva, Paul Kingsnorth, Janet Livingstone, and more.

They are currently open for submissions through their Submittable page . Submissions must include the full manuscript—no proposals or excerpts. If you are interested in submitting your work, it is important that you familiarize yourself with their previous publications since you will be asked to provide a short statement on why you feel they are the right publisher for your manuscript. You can find more information about their submission guidelines here .

4. Unsolicited Press

Unsolicited Press is a small Oregon-based press that publishes creative non-fiction, literary fiction, and poetry. What sets Unsolicited Press apart from other publishers is that every single person who works there is also a writer, and they consider publishing a partnership between the author and the press. They are always open for submissions, and they are currently actively seeking poetry collections, essay collections, memoirs, novels, and creative non-fiction. They also welcome experimental literature. All submissions must adhere to their submission guidelines , or else they will not be read.

If you are interested in submitting an essay collection, you will need to prepare a query letter and book proposal, along with the first three chapters of your manuscript. Do note that they only accept submissions in Word format. Once you are ready, you can send them your submission via email .

5. Sarabande Books

Sarabande Books is a non-profit press that was founded in 1994. They currently have more than 200 titles in print, and they publish approximately 10 books each year, primarily focusing on fiction, poetry, and essays. They have a dedicated readership and have earned a reputation for publishing innovative books with diverse voices. Authors previously published by Sarabande Books have gone on to win or have been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, Lambda Literary Awards, National Book Critics Circle Award, and more.

Their annual reading period for essay collections is during the month of September. They are interested in essay collections between 150 and 250 pages. Individual essays in the collection may have already been published in magazines or chapbooks, but the collection as a whole must be previously unpublished. All submissions must follow their guidelines and must be sent through their Submittable page . General inquiries may be sent through Sarabande’s online contact form .

6. Black Lawrence Press

Founded by Colleen Ryor in 2004, Black Lawrence Press is an independent publisher that specializes in fiction, creative non-fiction, and contemporary poetry. The books they publish are distributed to Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and various bookstores and retailers across the country. Black Lawrence Press has open reading periods twice a year—one in June and another in November—during which they accept submissions of novels, novellas, prose chapbooks, lyric essay collections, short story collections, biographies, poetry chapbooks, and creative non-fiction.

Black Lawrence Press is quite strict about formatting, so make sure you adhere to the guidelines stated here . If you are ready to send in your submission, you can do so through their Submittable page .

7. Bauhan Publishing

Bauhan Publishing is an independent publishing house with roots going all the way back to the 1930s. It has gone through several different names since its establishment, but its commitment to craftsmanship remains. Even with the rise of on-demand publishing and new media, Bauhan Publishing believes that their traditional publishing model gives them an edge that newer companies don’t have. In addition to publishing high-quality books, Bauhan also hosts the annual Monadnock Essay Collection Prize for book-length collections of non-fiction essays.

Bauhan Publishing does not currently accept unsolicited submissions, but you can visit their Submittable page to stay updated about their upcoming reading periods and contests. If you have any questions for the Bauhan Publishing team, you can reach them here .

8. C&R Press

Since 2006, C&R Press has been publishing exceptional books—especially those written by progressive, LGBTQ, female, minority, immigrant, and submerged voices. Although C&R Press started out as a poetry publisher, they have since expanded their scope and now also publish short story collections, essay collections, novels, and more.

Publishing at least 12 books each year, C&R Press is always eager to receive submissions of full-length manuscripts in any genre. Short stories, essays, memoirs, and hybrid work are all welcome. Should you be interested in getting published by C&R Press, you can view their submission guidelines and submit your manuscript here . If you have any additional questions or concerns, you can reach C&R Press via email .

9. Manchester University Press

Located in the heart of the most vibrant cities in the UK, Manchester University Press publishes study guides, essay collections, multi-authored collections, monographs, and trade books for general readers. Their areas of interest include modern history, history of art and design, sociology, economics, literature, film, archeology, business, politics, international law, and theater.

If your manuscript falls under any of the aforementioned areas, you can submit a proposal to Manchester University Press by emailing the appropriate editor . But before emailing your proposal, make sure you read their submission guidelines . You can also get in touch with Manchester University Press here .

10. Seren Books

One of the leading independent publishers in Wales, Seren Books has been publishing high-quality fiction, non-fiction, and poetry since 1981. Many of the books they have published over the decades have won major literary awards—not only in the UK but internationally as well. It is recommended that you check out their past publications to learn more about the kinds of books they are interested in publishing, but at the core of everything they publish are stories well told.

Seren Books welcomes unsolicited submissions all year. If you are interested in submitting your work for their consideration, you can visit the submissions page on their website.

11. Vehicule Press

Founded in Quebec in 1973, Vehicule Press began as the publishing arm of Vehicule Art, Inc., one of the first artist-run galleries in Canada. Today, Vehicule Press continues to publish non-fiction, fiction, and poetry from Canada’s most talented writers. Some of their award-winning publications include The Love Monster by Missy Marston, A Place in Mind: The Search for Authenticity by Avi Friedman, Garbage Head by Christopher Willard, and Boxing the Compass by Richard Greene.

Vehicule Press is currently accepting non-fiction submissions. Prospective authors can submit their work by visiting the Vehicule Press submissions page and contacting the appropriate editor . General inquiries can be sent to Vehicule Press via email .

12. Book*hug Press

Formerly BookThug Press, Book*hug is an independent literary press in Ontario, Canada that specializes in literary non-fiction, contemporary fiction, poetry, drama, and translations. Their main goal is to publish books that reflect and contribute to Canadian culture and society. In particular, they are looking for writing that is innovative, bold, and not afraid to take risks. They especially welcome work written by LGBTQ writers, women writers, deaf and disabled writers, indigenous writers, and writers of color. They do not, however, publish children’s books, genre fiction, self-help books, or cookbooks.

Book*hug is always open for submissions. If you would like Book*hug to consider your work, you can check out their submission guidelines for instructions on how and where to submit your manuscript. If you require additional assistance, you can reach the Book*hug team here .

13. Guernica Editions

Established in 1978, Guernica Editions is named after the Spanish city that fell victim to aerial bombs in the 1930s. Guernica’s founders chose the name with the hope that the books they publish will change the world and make it a better place. Guernica publishes Canadian literature, specifically fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. One of Guernica’s most significant contributions to the literary world is their promotion of ethnic minority writers including African-Canadian writers, Italian-Canadian writers, and others.

Guernica accepts manuscript submissions between January and April, and they are interested in poetry collections, essay collections, literary non-fiction, and novels. All queries and manuscripts must be sent as attachments via email . To learn more about their process and policies, check out Guernica’s submission guidelines here .

14. House of Anansi

House of Anansi is a Canadian publisher that was founded by writers David Godfrey and Dennis Lee in 1967. They have published the works of renowned Canadian writers, including Margaret Atwood, Erin Moure, Matt Cohen, and Michael Ondaatje. Today, House of Anansi specializes in publishing fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama from both established and emerging writers. They publish around 50 new titles each year.

House of Anansi is currently closed for submissions, but you can keep an eye out for open calls and upcoming reading periods by checking their Submittable page . They only accept submissions from Canadian writers, and all submissions must be done online. If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach the House of Anansi team here .

15. Giramondo Publishing Company

Giramondo Publishing Company was established in 1995 with the aim of publishing adventurous and innovative literature written by Australian writers. Many of the titles they have published have won major literary prizes, such as the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, the Miles Franklin Literary Award, and the Nita Kibble Literary Award. They publish non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and short-form books.

Giramondo is always open for submissions, and they welcome both fiction and non-fiction manuscripts, including essay collections. All submissions must be sent through their Submittable page and must include your curriculum vitae, a brief synopsis of your work, and three sample chapters. For more information, you can find Giramondo’s submission guidelines here .

16. Pan MacMillan Australia

Pan MacMillan Australia is the Australian imprint of MacMillan Publishers, one of the largest and most popular publishing houses in the world. Pan MacMillan Australia publishes a range of high-quality books across various genres, including children’s literature, fiction, non-fiction, biographies, memoirs, and more.

Australian authors who wish to get published can participate in Pan MacMillan’s Manuscript Monday initiative. On the first Monday of every month, Pan MacMillan accepts electronic submissions from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Australian Eastern Standard Time. At the moment, they are looking for fiction, literary non-fiction, children’s books, young adult literature, and commercial non-fiction. Interested authors can check out Manuscript Monday’s guidelines and submission instructions here . You can also contact Pan MacMillan for general questions and inquiries.

17. Grattan Street Press

Grattan Street Press is a small press located in Melbourne, Australia. An initiative of the University of Melbourne’s Publishing and Communications Program, Grattan Street Press publishes trade non-fiction, contemporary fiction, children’s books, and other culturally significant works. They are especially drawn to writing that is intelligent, engaging, and unique.

They are currently accepting fiction and non-fiction submissions through their Submittable page . Submissions must include your curriculum vitae, a brief summary of your work, and a short excerpt. You can check out their submission guidelines for more details. If you have any questions regarding their submission policies and screening process, you may get in touch with them via email .

Are there any other publishers of essay collection that you know of? Please tell us about them in them in the comments box below!

Hiten Vyas is the Founder and Managing Editor of Writing Tips Oasis .

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Where to Submit Your Writing Works: 5 Main Platforms

  • Last modified 2023-11-10
  • Published on 2021-04-06

publish literary essay

In this guide, you will find five platforms that publish various genres and styles of writing, ranging from prestigious and competitive options to new and developing options.  

Ready to get started? Here are where to submit your writing works:  

1. Your own website/blog

Once you start writing more and have more published work, you should consider opening up your website or blog to publish your personal essays, flash fiction, literary journals, creative nonfictions, and more. Your blog is the reflection of your writing style, writing genre, and overall writer personality. In addition to work published on other platforms, your website and blog is a great place to build your brand identity, interact with fans, and announce updates/news about potential up and coming pieces  

There are several websites and blog platforms that you can design from: WordPress, Wix, Webflow, and Squarespace. These platforms have either free or paid options, depending on your personal needs.  

2. Community-based websites

With the rise of new platforms every month trying to get writers to post their work, community-based websites are also a great option for writers of short stories/fiction who want to submit your writing and get feedback from other community members or just get more fans. Below are some examples of sites you can publish your story online:  

  • Medium.com : Medium is an online publishing platform, where writers can share their writing on any topic. The community on Medium is relatively small and high-quality, which means people are willing to spend time to read and give quality feedback. Topics range from arts & entertainment, culture, equality, health, industry, personal development, politics, to programming, science, self, and technology. Medium also provides you with Audience Insights with information that help you increase your audience or write similar pieces that will draw your audience’s attention.  
  • Tumblr : Tumblr is the place where fiction will thrive and go viral across the Internet. People consider Tumblr as a hidden gem or a hub of culture. If you have some sort of fiction like fanfiction, you can take advantage of this platform and post something viral-worthy. Then, remember to link your own website so people can learn more about you!  
  • WritersCafe : WritersCafe is an online writing community, where writers can post their work, get reviews, connect with other writers, and enter writing competitions. WritersCafe has been around for a longer time than other platforms; therefore, it may feel old-school for younger writers.  
  • Young Writers Society : The Young Writers Society is designed for young writers ages 13+ and features short stories, novels, and poetry. The community is semi-active; therefore, you will not see a lot of comments on your post.  

submit your writing works

3. Newspapers / Magazines

If you are interested in publishing your work to a broader and broader variety of audiences and are hoping to get more exposure to your work, a newspaper or magazine is an excellent platform for you to submit your writing.  

  • The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times . All major news outlets in America allow you to submit your writing as an op-ed. An op-ed is an opinion essay written by a staff columnist or an outside contributor. It’s different from short stories, fiction, and nonfiction because it is opinionated to educate readers about current events or incidents. If you’re interested in contributing your opinions for a chance to be featured in a digital or physical newspaper or news magazine, each outlet provides email for writers to story submissions.  
  • New York Magazine, POLITICO, WIRED are examples of magazines publishing an op-ed. There are different requirements depending on the outlet you submit your writing work. Therefore, please remember to check each website for its submission guidelines.  

4. Magazine with novel/story submissions

Some magazines provide opportunities for more novel-related submissions. Examples include:  

  • The New Yorker: The New Yorker features journalism, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons, and poetry. The magazine’s submission pool is highly competitive, as editors have to evaluate 2,000 to 4,000 new stories per month. Author David. B. Comfort calculates that an outsider has a chance of .0000416% of breaking into America’s last premier short fiction venue. It’s worth a shot because there will only be two outcomes: you either get published, or you don’t. To learn more about story submission, please visit the contact page of the New Yorker.  
  • The Antioch Review : The Antioch Review is one of the oldest continuously publishing literary magazines globally. The magazine accepts submissions of nonfiction essays, fiction, poetry, and reviews. Young writers can have an opportunity to get published because it’s definitely less competitive than The New Yorkers.   
  • Boulevard Magazine : Boulevard Magazine is a biannual literary magazine based in St. Louis. Boulevard strives to publish only the finest in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. While the magazine frequently publishes writers with previous credits, it is very interested in less experienced or unpublished writers with exceptional promise.  

Above are examples of outlets that you can submit your writing work. Depending on your location, you will be able to find other local or regional newspapers that accept story submissions. For more information about the platforms, you can refer to this great article written by The Write Life.  

5. Competitions

For high school students, you can also submit your writing work to different regional and national competitions to get recognized and published. There are more than 27 competitions happening year-round for you to choose from. Participating in these competitions, you will earn a chance to be published, be rewarded with prizes and scholarships for your college application, and so much more. Highlighted competitions include Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards , John Locke Writing Contest , etc. We’ve identified 27 competitions through this infographic for you !  

Students will learn the nuances of language, including figurative language, effective structuring, and specific forms to apply to their own piece(s). Students will work directly with both literary and media texts to plan and write their piece(s). This class will also help the students write with an aim for an audience as their submission for nation-wide and international writing competitions that are timely with the course schedule.

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  • How to write a literary analysis essay | A step-by-step guide

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay | A Step-by-Step Guide

Published on January 30, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on August 14, 2023.

Literary analysis means closely studying a text, interpreting its meanings, and exploring why the author made certain choices. It can be applied to novels, short stories, plays, poems, or any other form of literary writing.

A literary analysis essay is not a rhetorical analysis , nor is it just a summary of the plot or a book review. Instead, it is a type of argumentative essay where you need to analyze elements such as the language, perspective, and structure of the text, and explain how the author uses literary devices to create effects and convey ideas.

Before beginning a literary analysis essay, it’s essential to carefully read the text and c ome up with a thesis statement to keep your essay focused. As you write, follow the standard structure of an academic essay :

  • An introduction that tells the reader what your essay will focus on.
  • A main body, divided into paragraphs , that builds an argument using evidence from the text.
  • A conclusion that clearly states the main point that you have shown with your analysis.

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Table of contents

Step 1: reading the text and identifying literary devices, step 2: coming up with a thesis, step 3: writing a title and introduction, step 4: writing the body of the essay, step 5: writing a conclusion, other interesting articles.

The first step is to carefully read the text(s) and take initial notes. As you read, pay attention to the things that are most intriguing, surprising, or even confusing in the writing—these are things you can dig into in your analysis.

Your goal in literary analysis is not simply to explain the events described in the text, but to analyze the writing itself and discuss how the text works on a deeper level. Primarily, you’re looking out for literary devices —textual elements that writers use to convey meaning and create effects. If you’re comparing and contrasting multiple texts, you can also look for connections between different texts.

To get started with your analysis, there are several key areas that you can focus on. As you analyze each aspect of the text, try to think about how they all relate to each other. You can use highlights or notes to keep track of important passages and quotes.

Language choices

Consider what style of language the author uses. Are the sentences short and simple or more complex and poetic?

What word choices stand out as interesting or unusual? Are words used figuratively to mean something other than their literal definition? Figurative language includes things like metaphor (e.g. “her eyes were oceans”) and simile (e.g. “her eyes were like oceans”).

Also keep an eye out for imagery in the text—recurring images that create a certain atmosphere or symbolize something important. Remember that language is used in literary texts to say more than it means on the surface.

Narrative voice

Ask yourself:

  • Who is telling the story?
  • How are they telling it?

Is it a first-person narrator (“I”) who is personally involved in the story, or a third-person narrator who tells us about the characters from a distance?

Consider the narrator’s perspective . Is the narrator omniscient (where they know everything about all the characters and events), or do they only have partial knowledge? Are they an unreliable narrator who we are not supposed to take at face value? Authors often hint that their narrator might be giving us a distorted or dishonest version of events.

The tone of the text is also worth considering. Is the story intended to be comic, tragic, or something else? Are usually serious topics treated as funny, or vice versa ? Is the story realistic or fantastical (or somewhere in between)?

Consider how the text is structured, and how the structure relates to the story being told.

  • Novels are often divided into chapters and parts.
  • Poems are divided into lines, stanzas, and sometime cantos.
  • Plays are divided into scenes and acts.

Think about why the author chose to divide the different parts of the text in the way they did.

There are also less formal structural elements to take into account. Does the story unfold in chronological order, or does it jump back and forth in time? Does it begin in medias res —in the middle of the action? Does the plot advance towards a clearly defined climax?

With poetry, consider how the rhyme and meter shape your understanding of the text and your impression of the tone. Try reading the poem aloud to get a sense of this.

In a play, you might consider how relationships between characters are built up through different scenes, and how the setting relates to the action. Watch out for  dramatic irony , where the audience knows some detail that the characters don’t, creating a double meaning in their words, thoughts, or actions.

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Your thesis in a literary analysis essay is the point you want to make about the text. It’s the core argument that gives your essay direction and prevents it from just being a collection of random observations about a text.

If you’re given a prompt for your essay, your thesis must answer or relate to the prompt. For example:

Essay question example

Is Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” a religious parable?

Your thesis statement should be an answer to this question—not a simple yes or no, but a statement of why this is or isn’t the case:

Thesis statement example

Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” is not a religious parable, but a story about bureaucratic alienation.

Sometimes you’ll be given freedom to choose your own topic; in this case, you’ll have to come up with an original thesis. Consider what stood out to you in the text; ask yourself questions about the elements that interested you, and consider how you might answer them.

Your thesis should be something arguable—that is, something that you think is true about the text, but which is not a simple matter of fact. It must be complex enough to develop through evidence and arguments across the course of your essay.

Say you’re analyzing the novel Frankenstein . You could start by asking yourself:

Your initial answer might be a surface-level description:

The character Frankenstein is portrayed negatively in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .

However, this statement is too simple to be an interesting thesis. After reading the text and analyzing its narrative voice and structure, you can develop the answer into a more nuanced and arguable thesis statement:

Mary Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.

Remember that you can revise your thesis statement throughout the writing process , so it doesn’t need to be perfectly formulated at this stage. The aim is to keep you focused as you analyze the text.

Finding textual evidence

To support your thesis statement, your essay will build an argument using textual evidence —specific parts of the text that demonstrate your point. This evidence is quoted and analyzed throughout your essay to explain your argument to the reader.

It can be useful to comb through the text in search of relevant quotations before you start writing. You might not end up using everything you find, and you may have to return to the text for more evidence as you write, but collecting textual evidence from the beginning will help you to structure your arguments and assess whether they’re convincing.

To start your literary analysis paper, you’ll need two things: a good title, and an introduction.

Your title should clearly indicate what your analysis will focus on. It usually contains the name of the author and text(s) you’re analyzing. Keep it as concise and engaging as possible.

A common approach to the title is to use a relevant quote from the text, followed by a colon and then the rest of your title.

If you struggle to come up with a good title at first, don’t worry—this will be easier once you’ve begun writing the essay and have a better sense of your arguments.

“Fearful symmetry” : The violence of creation in William Blake’s “The Tyger”

The introduction

The essay introduction provides a quick overview of where your argument is going. It should include your thesis statement and a summary of the essay’s structure.

A typical structure for an introduction is to begin with a general statement about the text and author, using this to lead into your thesis statement. You might refer to a commonly held idea about the text and show how your thesis will contradict it, or zoom in on a particular device you intend to focus on.

Then you can end with a brief indication of what’s coming up in the main body of the essay. This is called signposting. It will be more elaborate in longer essays, but in a short five-paragraph essay structure, it shouldn’t be more than one sentence.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a stable representation of the callous ambition of modern science throughout the novel. This essay, however, argues that far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as. This essay begins by exploring the positive portrayal of Frankenstein in the first volume, then moves on to the creature’s perception of him, and finally discusses the third volume’s narrative shift toward viewing Frankenstein as the creature views him.

Some students prefer to write the introduction later in the process, and it’s not a bad idea. After all, you’ll have a clearer idea of the overall shape of your arguments once you’ve begun writing them!

If you do write the introduction first, you should still return to it later to make sure it lines up with what you ended up writing, and edit as necessary.

The body of your essay is everything between the introduction and conclusion. It contains your arguments and the textual evidence that supports them.

Paragraph structure

A typical structure for a high school literary analysis essay consists of five paragraphs : the three paragraphs of the body, plus the introduction and conclusion.

Each paragraph in the main body should focus on one topic. In the five-paragraph model, try to divide your argument into three main areas of analysis, all linked to your thesis. Don’t try to include everything you can think of to say about the text—only analysis that drives your argument.

In longer essays, the same principle applies on a broader scale. For example, you might have two or three sections in your main body, each with multiple paragraphs. Within these sections, you still want to begin new paragraphs at logical moments—a turn in the argument or the introduction of a new idea.

Robert’s first encounter with Gil-Martin suggests something of his sinister power. Robert feels “a sort of invisible power that drew me towards him.” He identifies the moment of their meeting as “the beginning of a series of adventures which has puzzled myself, and will puzzle the world when I am no more in it” (p. 89). Gil-Martin’s “invisible power” seems to be at work even at this distance from the moment described; before continuing the story, Robert feels compelled to anticipate at length what readers will make of his narrative after his approaching death. With this interjection, Hogg emphasizes the fatal influence Gil-Martin exercises from his first appearance.

Topic sentences

To keep your points focused, it’s important to use a topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph.

A good topic sentence allows a reader to see at a glance what the paragraph is about. It can introduce a new line of argument and connect or contrast it with the previous paragraph. Transition words like “however” or “moreover” are useful for creating smooth transitions:

… The story’s focus, therefore, is not upon the divine revelation that may be waiting beyond the door, but upon the mundane process of aging undergone by the man as he waits.

Nevertheless, the “radiance” that appears to stream from the door is typically treated as religious symbolism.

This topic sentence signals that the paragraph will address the question of religious symbolism, while the linking word “nevertheless” points out a contrast with the previous paragraph’s conclusion.

Using textual evidence

A key part of literary analysis is backing up your arguments with relevant evidence from the text. This involves introducing quotes from the text and explaining their significance to your point.

It’s important to contextualize quotes and explain why you’re using them; they should be properly introduced and analyzed, not treated as self-explanatory:

It isn’t always necessary to use a quote. Quoting is useful when you’re discussing the author’s language, but sometimes you’ll have to refer to plot points or structural elements that can’t be captured in a short quote.

In these cases, it’s more appropriate to paraphrase or summarize parts of the text—that is, to describe the relevant part in your own words:

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The conclusion of your analysis shouldn’t introduce any new quotations or arguments. Instead, it’s about wrapping up the essay. Here, you summarize your key points and try to emphasize their significance to the reader.

A good way to approach this is to briefly summarize your key arguments, and then stress the conclusion they’ve led you to, highlighting the new perspective your thesis provides on the text as a whole:

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
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By tracing the depiction of Frankenstein through the novel’s three volumes, I have demonstrated how the narrative structure shifts our perception of the character. While the Frankenstein of the first volume is depicted as having innocent intentions, the second and third volumes—first in the creature’s accusatory voice, and then in his own voice—increasingly undermine him, causing him to appear alternately ridiculous and vindictive. Far from the one-dimensional villain he is often taken to be, the character of Frankenstein is compelling because of the dynamic narrative frame in which he is placed. In this frame, Frankenstein’s narrative self-presentation responds to the images of him we see from others’ perspectives. This conclusion sheds new light on the novel, foregrounding Shelley’s unique layering of narrative perspectives and its importance for the depiction of character.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Caulfield, J. (2023, August 14). How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay | A Step-by-Step Guide. Scribbr. Retrieved January 17, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/literary-analysis/

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5 places to submit your personal essays

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The best stories often come from real-life experiences. If you enjoy writing personal essays, consider submitting your work to one of the publications on this list. (Fiction writers and poets, there are some gems for you here too.) All the journals on our list are currently open for submissions and none charge fees.

Note: We are a creative writing school and compile these lists for the benefit of our students. Please don’t send us your publishing queries or submissions :). Click on the links to go to the publication’s website and look for their submissions page.

Adelaide Literary Magazine accepts personal essays and narrative nonfiction (up to 5,000 words) written in English and Portuguese. You can also submit short stories (up to 5,000 words) and poetry (up to 5 pieces per submission). They publish online once per month and generally respond within two months.

bioStories focuses exclusively on personal essays (500-7500 words). They publish essays on nearly any topic and are especially interested in work that celebrates the extraordinary within the ordinary. Pieces are published as they are accepted, and the editors generally respond to submissions within two months.

HuffPost Personal wants personal stories from writers of diverse experiences and welcomes essays on nearly any topic so long as they’re told with an authentic voice and point of view. There are no specific word limits, but writers are asked to pitch the editors before submitting their piece for consideration.

Quarter After Eight is an online literary journal published once per year. The editors are seeking work that ‘directly challenges the conventions of language, style, voice, or idea’. In addition to essays and creative nonfiction (no specific word limits), they also accept flash fiction, short stories (up to 7,500 words), and poetry (up to 4 pieces per submission). Submissions are open through 15 April 2021, and the average response time is 2-3 months.

The Rappahannock Review is an online literary magazine that publishes twice per year. In addition to essays and creative nonfiction (up to 8,000 words), they’re also looking for flash fiction, short stories (up to 7,500 words), and poetry (up to 5 poems per submission). They generally respond within one month.

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The Writer’s Journey: Where To Publish Personal Essays

Table of contents:, 1. what is a personal essay , 2. key features of personal essays:, authenticity: , individual perspective: , emotional connection: , 3. how to write a personal essay, choosing a topic: , organizing your thoughts: , adding details: , being honest: , 4. where can you publish personal essays, online literary magazines: , writing communities and blogs: , newspaper and magazine op-ed sections: , literary anthologies and essay collections: , online writing contests: , specialized niche websites: , 5. guidelines for submission:, 6. reading submission guidelines:, word count: , formatting requirements: , theme or topic preferences: , submission method: , rights and originality: , 7. craft an engaging title and introduction:, 8. polishing your essay:, proofreading: , clarity and coherence: , conciseness: , 9. originality and avoiding plagiarism:, 10. adhering to ethics and sensitivity:, 11. submission process and follow-up:, conclusion:.

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While no one can deny the power of personal essays, there are many reasons why you might be looking for a place to publish your own. You may have been asked to submit an essay to a contest or publication and want to know if it meets their standards, or maybe you’re just hoping to get some feedback on your latest writing project.

Whatever your reason is for Essay Publishing, book publishers New York  got you covered! Keep reading for information on where to publish personal essays and what they look like.

Personal essays are a great way for individuals to express their thoughts, experiences, and opinions on a personal topic. Whether a lighthearted tale or a heartfelt reflection, these essays give readers a glimpse into the writer’s mind and emotions.

To ensure that your essay is impactful and engaging, it can be beneficial to seek professional assistance. Ghostwriting services can help you bring your ideas to life and create a well-crafted essay that resonates with your readers. These services enable you to collaborate with an experienced writer who can transform your thoughts into clear and engaging prose.

Moreover, proofreading services can play a crucial role in enhancing the quality of your essay. These services involve meticulously reviewing your essay to identify and correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. Additionally, professional proofreaders can offer valuable feedback on the overall clarity, structure, and coherence of your writing.

It’s important to find your unique voice and share your personal experiences with the reader when it comes to personal essays. However, don’t underestimate professional assistance’s impact on the final result. 

When writing a personal essay, make sure that the following key features are included in it

Personal essays are all about being true to yourself. You can be honest and authentic, sharing your genuine feelings and experiences.

Each personal essay is unique because it comes from your viewpoint. It’s your chance to share what matters and how you see the world.

These essays often aim to connect with readers emotionally. Whether it’s joy, sadness, excitement, or contemplation, personal essays can evoke various emotions in readers.

By understanding and emphasizing the key features of personal essays, writers can craft compelling pitches to attract publishers’ attention. Pitching to publishers opens doors for personal essays to be published, shared, and appreciated by a wider readership, creating opportunities for meaningful connections and impact.

For Essay Publishing, you first need to know how to write it. Here is how you can write a personal essay in a few steps:

Select a topic, akin to finding a book title by its plot, that is meaningful to you…

. It could be a personal story, an idea, or an experience you want to share. 

Plan how you want to present your story. Consider the beginning, middle, and end of your essay. You also need to plan on formatting for publishing according to the requirements of where you want to publish. When you think through all of this, the process of writing an essay further can be easy.

Use descriptive language, as detailed in how a writer can edit a narrative , to paint a vivid picture for your readers. Include sensory details to make your essay more engaging.

Be true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to share your true feelings and experiences, even if they might feel vulnerable.

When it comes to sharing your work with the world, finding the right platform is crucial. Here are various places where you can consider sharing your stories:

These websites are like treasure troves of interesting content. Places such as “The Sun Magazine,” “Tin House,” and “Narratively” love personal essays. 

They’re on the lookout for captivating stories that touch the hearts of their readers. These platforms aim to collect different perspectives and thoughts, making them perfect for your essays.

Websites like “Medium” and “WordPress” offer spaces for writers for Essay Publishing. They provide an excellent opportunity to showcase your work to a broad audience. 

Additionally, Medium has a Partner Program that could reward you based on how much people enjoy reading your essays.

Consider sharing your essays with the opinion sections of well-known newspapers like “The New York Times,” “The Guardian,” or “The Washington Post.”

These places have lots of readers and discussions. Contributing here allows you to be part of important conversations happening in society.

Some organizations create collections of essays on particular themes. Submitting your work to these collections can get your essays published in print or online, giving you exposure to a wider audience.

Writing contests hosted by websites like “Writer’s Digest”  and “The Writer Magazine” are great avenues for getting your essays noticed. 

These contests often have different themes and offer prizes, making them an exciting way to share your stories.

Depending on the topic of your essay, there are websites dedicated to specific interests. Whether about travel, parenting, mental health, or lifestyle, these platforms cater to diverse topics, providing a perfect space for your unique stories.

Submitting your essays to different platforms requires attention to specific publishing contracts , guides and practices. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown to help you ace the submission process:

Before submitting, carefully read and understand the submission guidelines and publisher-author relations of the platform you’re interested in. 

Each platform has its own set of rules, preferences, and expectations for submissions. Pay close attention to details such as:

Ensure your essay meets the specified word count requirements. Some platforms might have a specific range they prefer.

Check for specific formatting guidelines, such as font size, spacing, or file format (e.g., .docx, .pdf).

Some platforms might have themes or topics they’re particularly interested in. Align your essay’s subject matter accordingly.

Note whether submissions are accepted via email, online forms, or submission portals. Follow the specified submission procedure.

Understand the platform’s policies regarding ownership of the content. Ensure your essay is original and not previously published elsewhere.

Capturing the attention of editors or readers starts with an enticing title and introduction. Craft a title, similar to how you’d write a thank you note , that reflects the essence of your essay and compels the reader to delve deeper. 

Your introduction should be engaging, drawing in the audience and setting the tone for the rest of the essay.

Editing and revising your essay are crucial steps before submission. Ensure your writing is clear, concise, and error-free. Here are some tips:

Check for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and punctuation issues. Consider using grammar-checking tools or seeking assistance from a trusted proofreader.

Ensure your ideas flow logically and are presented coherently. Avoid overly complex sentences or jargon that might hinder readability.

Eliminate unnecessary details or repetitive information. Keep your essay focused on its central theme or message.

Maintain the authenticity of your work by ensuring it is entirely original. Avoid plagiarism by attributing sources correctly if using external references or quotes. Plagiarism can severely impact the credibility of your submission.

Be mindful of sensitive topics or personal information shared in your essay. Respect the privacy of the individuals mentioned and adhere to ethical considerations. Ensure your content does not harm or offend any particular group or individual.

Follow the platform’s submission instructions meticulously. Submit your essay within the specified timeframe, if provided. After submission, be patient. Responses may take time. If allowed, follow up politely if you haven’t received a response within the expected timeframe.

The world of personal essays offers a myriad of opportunities for aspiring writers. From online journals to renowned newspapers, the options are vast. Selecting the right platform involves understanding your essay’s theme, audience, and aspirations as a writer. 

Authenticity, clarity, and adherence to submission guidelines are paramount for Essay Publishing. Lastly, embracing your unique voice makes your essays resonate with readers across the globe.

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The Top 12 Best Free Online Publishing Platforms For All New Writers

Free publishing platforms For writers to publish articles online

Are you a new writer looking to publish your articles online? It might be a little confusing at first trying to choose the right digital publishing platform to use.

Before looking for the best publishing options, you need to decide which platforms are suited to your topic or writing style. Are you interested in writing opinion pieces, sharing personal experiences, providing expert advice, or publishing on academic topics?

Every platform has its own strengths and weaknesses. It’s all about finding one that aligns best with your writing style, topics, and intended audience.

You can check the suggestions in this article to help you decide which platforms will offer you the best chance of finding new readers.

You can publish articles online right now

With digital publishing, it is easy for anyone to learn how to write and publish articles online.

There are many online publishing platforms for writers, so you can publish your writing in a matter of minutes.

What works for one writer might not work for the other. Are you writing essays or how-to guides ? It is also important to know who your audience is when choosing article publishing sites.

Do you want to reach teens, young adults, or adults? Are you trying to reach young entrepreneurs or established business owners?

Are you writing poems? There are also many free sites where you can publish your poetry .

Consider the types of articles you want to write and the audience you want to write for. Then you can go ahead and find the best online publishing platforms.

There are also plenty of free writing apps to help you write great content that readers will love. But you should always use a reliable online grammar checker to make sure your writing is as perfect as possible.

Then, you can bring your vision and ideas to the world with digital content. With so many people reading articles and online content on laptops, smartphones, and tablets, there is always an audience for new writers.

There are many online magazines and sites that accept articles for free. It’s up to you to find the best digital publishing solution to suit your needs.

To get you started, here is a list of platforms offering free article publishing.

publish you articles on medium

Medium is a very popular free publishing site where you can share your writing. You can connect with more sophisticated and dedicated readers than you might find on other social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook.

However, it is similar to a social network in its ease of connecting with other Medium users. But it is best suited to long-form writing.

It is very easy to create and set up your Medium account. Then, take a quick tour and read the FAQs. You are now ready to be published online with your first article.

The publishing tools are super easy to use with click and edit or drag and drop to move elements.

Your content on Medium should be full-length articles that are highly informative. Using original images is highly recommended.

Be aware, though, that it is not a publishing platform suited to short and obvious promotional blog posts.

You can read our how to use Medium guide for more detailed information about the submission guidelines. But they are quite straightforward.

2. Linkedin Articles

publish you articles on linkedin

You are probably already on Linkedin. So why not publish your articles there?

Follow the instructions for publishing Linkedin articles , and you are ready to go.

With so many people on the site, you are bound to find readers for professional articles.

It has to be one of the best places to easily publish your articles.

3. Publish PDF

Publish a PDF

This really is the easiest way to publish your writing online.

You don’t even need to have a website or blog.

All you need is a PDF file and your Google account.

Best of all, Google indexes PDF documents , so there’s a good chance that yours will appear on Google Search.

Read our quick tutorial on how to publish a PDF article online , and you will be ready to publish your articles online immediately.

4. Scoop.It

publish you articles on scoop.it

Scoop.It is one of the most popular free publishing platforms for new writers.

You can publish great magazines on this website, and it does what it promises.

There is a function where you can find great content to help as inspiration.

Simply use appropriate keywords, and you will be flooded with information.

publish you articles on issuu

You can find some excellent content on Issuu  and some entertaining writing as well.

It is a user-friendly platform where anyone can create digital publications.

You don’t need to use any publishing software.

You can also sell your digital magazine directly from the website, making it possible to earn some money.

Issuu is definitely one of the leading platforms for anyone who has something worthwhile to say.

With more than 15000 updates daily, you can see why it is so popular with writers who are publishing articles online.

It also gives you the opportunity to reach a lot of people with your writing. It doesn’t matter what your passion is; there is a place for you on this platform.

Your magazine can be about anything from cats to basketball, so there are no boundaries.

publish you articles on Yudo

If you are a photographer who wants to share your multimedia with the world, you might find that Yudo is for you.

On this platform, you can mix your writing, videos, photographs, and audio.

Who wouldn’t like to read a digital magazine that offers all of these features?

It makes for a more exciting read, so it could be worth a shot.

All you need to have is a passion and start working hard at it.

7. ArticleSeen

publish you articles on articleseen

ArticleSeen  prefers original content. But that is what you should do when posting your articles online.

If you want free exposure for your writing, this is a good site to help you on your way.

There is a good choice of categories, which means you are sure to find one that suits your writing topic.


publish you articles on pub html5

PUB HTML5 is free of charge, so you can see if it is the right digital publishing tool for you.

The design is sleek and simple, which is what you want as a beginner.

You don’t want websites that are confusing to use.

But the great thing about this platform is that your publications will appear professional on all devices.

It can be a computer or a mobile device. The results are the same.

You can publish interactive elements in magazines, catalogs, and brochures and create rich-media flipping books.

If you are trying to get your name out there as an influential writer, you might want to give this website a try.

Joomag publishing

With over 500,000 publishers using this website, you can understand why I included Joomag  in this list.

You can manage your subscribers on this platform and add more when you please.

It gives you full control over your publications.

Use might want to use a good grammar checker to help you write flawless articles. Then you can launch your own campaign.

You can use your mailing list to notify all of your subscribers when you publish a new article.

You can send emails that you write for your subscribers to make them feel part of the team.

It is an easy way to promote your work.

10. ArticleBiz

ArticleBiz logo

ArticleBiz offers you the chance to get your articles picked up by online publishers.

It’s very easy to submit your articles.

When you do, you will also complete a resource box. It is a short bio about yourself. You can include your email and website address information.

You can choose from a huge range of categories for your articles.

It has an Alexa ranking of 210,908. So it certainly gets a lot of traffic and readers.

If you are new to article writing, it is a great site to make a start with your online publishing.

11. Substack

substack logo

For writers open to a different approach in publishing, Substack is well worth investigating.

It’s a free platform you can join to publish your articles. But the big focus with Substack is on getting readers to subscribe to your writing.

Your articles will certainly be available online. But if your sole aim is to get your articles to rank high on search engines, Medium might be a better option.

However, if you want to build a loyal readership, there’s no better way than to attract email subscribers.

You can start by offering your articles for free. But if you can build some traction and your mailing list, there is an option to monetize your writing later.

There are a lot of high-profile writers already earning money from paid subscribers. But many new writers are succeeding too.

If you only want to publish one or two articles, it’s not the platform for you.

But if you want to make writing your passion and publish regular articles on your topic, Substack might be precisely the right publishing option for you.

12. Google Sites

Google Sites

When you want to have more control over your articles, you might consider using Google Sites .

It’s a simple website builder from Google. The two big advantages are that it’s free and very easy to use.

All you need is your Google account to log in and get started.

You can set up your new site in only a few minutes. Just make sure you make it available online.

Once you start adding your articles, you then have a chance of them being indexed by Google.

Like other website platforms, you can add gadgets to create interest. But they are basic.

Submitting your articles to a lot of different sites can be time-consuming and difficult to track.

But with your own site, you are in control of all your content.

Google Sites is a great option when all you want is a free, simple, and easy way to publish articles online in one place.

When you see the choices you have, there are no limits today on interactive content creation and digital publishing.

Anyone can learn to publish articles online once they decide to start. All you need to do is find new topic ideas .

With all these fantastic platforms available to you, all you have to do is get to work and start writing.

Many have native apps for iOS, Android, and Google Play. Check your App stores.

Before you know it, you are going to be writing for free article submission sites .

All you need is to use your drive and passion to get you heading toward your goals.

Give one of these websites a try, and you will be publishing your fantastic articles in no time at all.

Related reading: Where To Publish Short Stories Online

About The Author

Avatar for Derek Haines

Derek Haines

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52 thoughts on “the top 12 best free online publishing platforms for all new writers”.

Avatar for Phil Langlotz

I am a retired man with a technical background. I have written many articles on varied subjects but have never published. The subject matter includes science, religion, political and current events. The articles vary in length from one page to 20 pages. Have you ane suggestions for an appropriate posting site?

Avatar for Derek Haines

You cover a lot of topics, and different lengths, Phil.

It might be difficult to find one platform for them all.

Perhaps setting up a free blog, such as with Blogger or WordPress, might be a better move.

Thanks, I’ll look into that.

Avatar for Uma Gupta

I have written quite a few articles, most of them being inspirational. Some are in the form of messages learnt from incidents in everyday life. I also feel that as a citizen on this planet, it is my duty to share the good things I have learnt, so others can benefit too. Am wondering where would be a good place to begin publishing. Thanks.

Avatar for Ms. Anonymous

Derek, I am a decent lady, not available for romance, but just want you to know that I like your way; I just like your website & the way you make your comments and respond to questions. There’s just something about you. I like you.

Thank you. I’m happy to hear that you enjoy the content of the site.

Avatar for Rachel

I think writing story’s and publishing them and seeing how people comment, will help me when i get older and see what I want to be. I haven’t chosen yet I’ve always wanted to be a journalist or a media worker, honestly, I don’t yet…

Avatar for Dzeani

I notice that as a new writer, I have strong passion to publish. But I believe there is the need to learn to make my writing ‘clean’, mistake-free and perfect for my readers before publishing. What writing training apps would you recommend to help me ‘sanitize’ my writing?

I would suggest Prowritingaid for a new writer. It’s got everything you need to edit and improve your writing.

Avatar for Victoria

Will be paid for publishing articles on this platform listed above?

Avatar for Wycliffe Obiero

Will try this

Avatar for Michael L. Ball

I’m seventy-two and have been writing for a long time. I have a folder full of articles and I also have a folder full of science fiction stories. I have poetry and comics. I need a platform that allows me to publish as I please.

Avatar for Samuel Mathore

I’m an unpublished writer with several manuscripts. Do these platforms here publish novels?

No, Samuel. These sites are only suitable for publishing articles.

If you want to publish novels, try Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) or Draft2Digital.

Avatar for Paul Amupitan

Hello Derek, I’m new to writing articles, but I wasn’t to write articles focusing on Young People and their struggles. I would like to build some readership for my article. What site do you recommend? Thank you.

You can use any site, Paul. But before you do, make sure your writing is perfect. In your comment, I’m sure you meant, wanted to write, and not wasn’t to write. You can’t expect to find readers if you make errors like this. Always, always check your writing before you hit the button.

Avatar for Paoletta

Dear Derek, I would like to write articles about personal awareness and development. I am a new writer and I would like to reach a large odience eventually .. which platform would you recommend, please?

The best platform is always the one that you feel will work for you, Paoletta. But if you are looking at building a readership, Medium and Substack are two you might consider.

Avatar for Francis Ekongang Nzante

I’m really grateful to have stumbled on this site which I believe will greatly help me in publishing my articles. I do news articles that focus much more on culture. But I sort of publish stuff that is newsworthy so I also write on crisis in Africa.

Avatar for Anna

Be aware that on Medium your articles and you as an author won’t be searchable until you get a critical mass of readers and followers/claps. Which means that you need to actively promote your writing, for strangers to find your page on any given day (except the few first hours of the publication). Very disappointed.

Medium is no different from any other form of publishing articles. You need a certain amount of traction before it can rank in Google Search.

For a blog post, you need backlinks. On Medium, you need followers and claps.

It’s pretty standard stuff, but not disappointing if you know how to promote what you post.

There are no free rides at getting articles to rank. You still need to work on it to be successful.

Avatar for Joyce A Valley

i need to publish my story about chronic kidney disease and kidney transplants, the need for kidney donors and how this need is affected by the Covid pandemic.; and my personal need for a transplant to save my life. Where is the best place to submit my article?

Use any of the sites listed in this article. But I would try Medium first.

Avatar for Serenee Osman

I need to publish my article which are explain about lidar technology. Where can I publish my article?

Avatar for sisay kelemu

Dear sir I need to publish my paper which concerns on climate. so how can I publish it?

Avatar for Bhaswati

Really grateful to get these platforms to publish my article. Thanks to you for gifting us such information for these platforms.

Avatar for erum

how I can publish the article ??

Avatar for Tzvi

Good information but why did you not include Substack?

Avatar for mary kawira Kithinji

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Peter Mountford Writing Coach

Nine Types of Personal Essays 

What’s a personal essay? It depends on who you ask. Here, I’ll discuss essays intended for publication and sharing with an adult audience. Not college essays, but types of personal essays typically found in magazines, newspapers, and literary journals.  

Some personal essays are very short. Some are experimental, some are funny, and some are technical.

6 Types of Literary Personal Essays

I use the umbrella term “literary personal essays” for various types of essays that you might find in literary journals like Missouri Review, AGNI, swamp pink, and Brevity.  Sometimes these essays use more figurative language, and they’re far more likely to feature experimental forms.

Many memoir essays fit within literary journals, and you can often use a personal essay prompt to generate a good literary essay.

Pros: Publishing in these places can be prestigious, something you’ll proudly put in your author’s bio. Cons: Not many readers, often less pay or even payment with copies, and you’ll likely need to pay to even submit your work. Publications : Literary journals and literary essay contests . Use a tracker like Duotrope to find markets and track your submissions.

1. Lyric essay or literary essay

Lyric essay is a term that’s loosely defined but generally applies to literary essays that have poetic qualities (heightened language, sounds great when read aloud). These are often adventurous in style.

Examples: A Disassembled Room by M.D. McIntyre or Mary Gaitskill's "Lost Cat."

2. Collage essay

Another kind of literary personal essay, collage essays are particularly hard to pull off. This is an experimental form contemplating a subject using fragments of narrative and found material.

Example: The acrostic collage you see at Son of Mr. Green Jeans: An Essay on Fatherhood, Alphabetically Arranged by Dinty W. Moore, now editor of Brevity. 

2024 Personal Essay Market: The Best Magazines, LIterary Journals, and Newspapers

An annually updated list of magazines, newspapers, and literary journals seeking personal essays. This is a curated list, focusing on the best markets. At present, the list contains 43 publications, and is current for 2024.

3. Braided essay

Mostly only found in literary magazines, these often are longer essays, ranging from 2000-7000 words. Due to their length, they can be hard to publish. Braided essays are ambitious, braiding together three (or more) storylines. The multiple storylines make it possible to write a 20-page essay that stays engaging. 

Example: Fourth State of Matter . This riveting, beautiful, shocking and funny essay by Joann Beard braids together invading squirrels, a dying dog, her husband leaving her, and a workplace shooting.

4. Descriptive (portrait) essay

One of my favorites! I've done a few of these. They often take the shape of: "Let me tell you about this difficult and complex person I used to know. I learned a lot from him, I realize now."

The descriptive essay is about someone other than the narrator, such as a relationship with a family member. Pitfall: You can't simply talk about how awesome the person is — everyone’s flaws need to be on display.

This form can be one way to "escape" from the trap of talking about yourself, which can feel stifling or awkward.

Example: The essay "Mister Lytle" by John Jeremiah Sullivan .

5. Flash essay

Short, really short: 500-1000 words. From a craft standpoint, flash essays have much in common with prose poetry. No word can be superfluous. The end of a flash nonfiction essay doesn't feel too tidy yet provides that satisfying turn often seen in poetry.

Example: My Father Reads a Poem to Me by Yi Shun La

6. Horseshoe Crab

A "horseshoe crab essay” is when an essay pretends to be something that it's not—it’s disguised, like a horseshoe crab. In the Samantha Irby example below, she writes the essay as if filling out an application to be a contestant on The Bachelorette.

Example: Sam Irby’s “ My Bachelorette Application .”

Personal Essay Masterclass (group class / Spring 2024)

3 types of General Audience Essays

These essays appeal more widely to a general audience and are more accessible. If you play your personal essay cards right, they’re easier to get published—but doing so requires considerable skills. Carefully read the advice editors give on writing personal essays .

Pros: Good pay and lots of people will read your essay, which might go viral. Con: Your mom will read your essay.  Publications: New York Times, GQ, Salon, glossy magazines.

7. "Modern Love" style essay

Usually 1500 words. This is a pure personal essay. It needs a strong hook in the opening sentence, with often 2-3 scenes. These essays are bound together by theme.

The Modern Love essay often says: I tried something that didn't work. Now I've learned something and am adjusting. It's hard, but this is the wisdom I've gleaned. Generally speaking, they are approachable. 

Example: The Modern Love column at the NYT.

8. Personal reported essay

Often about 800-1500 words. Maybe your best hope of having an essay go "viral." These essays feel a little like journalism, but they're not.

The reported essay will involve some light research—statistics, perhaps, or quotes from interviewing someone. You're telling a personal story, but it's also about a newsworthy subject. Crucially, these pieces often pose a surprising or unexpected opinion. Not a scandalous opinion, but it's a bit surprising. 

Sometimes first-person travel pieces are reported essays, as well. Wells Tower wrote a great one about going to Burning Man with his father. On the surface, this reported essay is about Tower and his father. But it's also about Burning Man and anyone Burning Man-curious.

Example: My essay about how I helped a Russian pirate translator "steal" my first novel in The Atlantic . In that case, the essay is about something I experienced...but it's also about intellectual piracy, intellectual property, and a couple of other things. These essays are sometimes timely, but sometimes not.

9. Personal op-ed essay (aka the persuasive essay)

These personal essays argue for or against an idea, and range from 650-1500 words, though often on the shorter side, especially if they are to appear in a newspaper. Personal opinion essays often feature somewhat clickbaity headlines.

Like an op-ed, the essay article argues a point, but a personal point. The New York Times runs one or two of these each weekend. The great writer Jennine Capo Crucet has written several of them for the NYT, and R.O. Kwon has also written remarkable personal essays framed around an opinion. 

Example: Amy Chua wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that said that the American way of parenting was terrible, called “ Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior. ” The piece was controversial enough to go viral, thanks to people arguing about it on Facebook. This propelled Chua's book The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother to the top of the NYT bestseller list.  

2024 Oregon Writers' Residencies and Retreats

Oregon residencies and retreats for creative writers on the Oregon Coast, near Portland, and near Bend, Oregon.

Washington State Writers' Residencies and Retreats

Washington State may be one of the best destinations for a writing retreat. Clean air, beautiful landscapes of forest and ocean, and generous, quiet stays offered to help you start—or finish—your next book. Here are some of the best options organized by location:

Writing Workshop vs Writing Conference vs Writing Residency

What is the difference between a Writing Retreat, Summer Workshop, and a Writer’s Conference? Which is best for your needs, based on where you are in your writing and publishing process.

What is a Memoir Essay?

Best online personal essay classes of 2024.

Need help submitting your writing to literary journals or book publishers/literary agents?  Click here! →

publish literary essay

Literary Magazines And Journals: Your FAQs Answered | Writer’s Relief

by Writer's Relief Staff | Uncategorized | 4 comments

Review Board is now open! Submit your Short Prose, Poetry, and Book today!

Deadline: tuesday, january 16th.

publish literary essay

If you’re writing poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction, or essays, then literary magazines are your best friends. But at first glance, the world of literary journals can be intimidating. The submission guidelines often vary from one publication to another, and each journal seems to have its own special etiquette that you must try to decipher. And then there are the oodles of rejection letters that writers receive over the course of their careers. The entire process can be quite overwhelming. You probably have a lot of questions.

Fortunately, the submission strategy experts here at Writer’s Relief have a lot of answers. We know the ins and outs of getting poems, short stories, and personal essays published in literary magazines. And guess what? It may not be as difficult to get published as you think!

publish literary essay

FAQs About Literary Journals And Magazines

Q.: What Is The Definition A Literary Magazine (AKA Literary Journal)?

A.: A literary magazine is a publication of collected works by various authors. Writers can submit their writing to editors of literary journals at different times during the year depending on reading dates. Submissions can be unsolicited (not requested) or solicited. Literary magazines feature poems, short stories, and essays that are written by new, unpublished writers, or by well-known authors. Each literary magazine has its own style and focus.

The number of people who staff a literary magazine can run from a single editor working alone from home, right up to a large team of volunteer readers and paid staffers who unite to put out multiple issues of a magazine every year.

Writer’s Relief maintains a HUGE database of literary magazines. The database is updated daily, based on not only the information that is available to the public, but also on insider information gleaned from managing our clients’ submissions to various editors. Tracking many years’ worth of personal comments on submissions means that we know what editors like, and we make it our goal to connect writers with the editors who will fall in love with their work.

Q.: How Much Do Literary Magazines And Journals Pay Creative Writers?

A.: Many new writers get excited about literary magazines because it’s heartening to know there’s a community eager to publish new poems, stories, and essays. But hot on the heels of a writer’s interest in a literary magazine is this common question: How much do literary magazines and journals pay?

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that a writer will be able to make any significant income by publishing in literary journals. Literary magazines are rarely able to pay creative writers for the privilege of publishing an accepted poem, story, or essay. And the literary journals that do pay writers are rarely able to pay much beyond a token honorarium.

Editors aren’t being stingy: Budgets at many literary journals are very tight. To stay afloat fiscally, literary magazines often rely on grants, predetermined budgets set by academic committees, or small subscription bases. Some literary magazines host writing contests to generate income. Many editors wish they could pay their writers for the right to publish accepted submissions. Learn more about the reasons literary magazine editors rarely pay writers money .

That said, there are some literary magazines that do pay writers for the right to publish poems, short stories, essays, and the like. Here are a few places to start your research to find literary journals that pay:

How To Find Literary Journals That Pay Writers

22 Literary Journals That Pay To Publish Poems–And Why Others Don’t | Writer’s Relief

Q.: What Are The Benefits And Advantages Of Getting Published In Literary Magazines?

A.: Most writers submit their poems, stories, and essays to literary journals in order to gain exposure for their writing. Getting published in a literary magazine is one of the best ways to build a strong reputation as a creative writer. Literary agents and publishers often read literary journals to discover exciting new voices. In the publishing industry and in academia, publishing in literary journals is a rite of passage that is, in some circles, an expected first step in a writer’s career.

Need more convincing? Read this: 33 Great Reasons Why You Should Submit Your Writing To Literary Magazines | Writer’s Relief .

Q.: What Is The Difference Between A Literary Journal And A Literary Magazine?

A.: Most of the time, the definition of a literary journal is synonymous with the definition of a literary magazine. At one point in the history of publishing, the pages of a literary journal may have been bound differently, and presented in a slightly different physical format, than a literary magazine. But these days, the distinction between a literary magazine and a literary journal has largely disappeared (especially now that so many literary journals and magazines have converted to digital format).

Q.: What Genres Are Published In Literary Journals?

A.: The majority of literary journals publish a mix of short stories, personal essays (nonfiction), and poetry. They might also include some visual artwork, interviews with authors, and book reviews.

Though many literary magazines accept a wide array of genres, some specialize in one genre. For example: One literary journal might exclusively publish flash fiction, while another might be dedicated to publishing “long” short stories.

Literary magazines can also be organized by theme (love, nature, food, etc.) or by authorial interests/ethnicity/place of residence.

Read more: 6 Surprising Things Literary Journal Editors Love To Publish .

Q.: What Style Of Writing Is Most Common In Literary Magazines?

A.: These days, many editors of literary journals are interested in publishing creative writing that has a literary sensibility. That means, the majority of literary magazines are interested in writing that’s a little challenging, thoughtful, experimental, intelligent, and emotional—writing that might not find a home at a commercial publishing house. However, you will also find literary magazines that specialize in genres that are historically considered commercial: detective stories, romances, etc.

Learn more about the difference between literary and commercial writing.

Q.: What Does A Literary Magazine Editor Actually Do For Writers?

A.: Editors at literary journals read through submissions, facilitate conversations about manuscripts and publishing, make decisions about which works to accept, write up editorial requests and assist authors with revisions, proofread and format, and much more.

Q.: Which Is Better For A Writer’s Career: Publishing In Digital Literary Journals Or Printed Literary Magazines?

A.: When literary magazines began moving into digital format, some writers resisted the change—in part because of the nostalgic draw of holding a physical copy of a printed publication. But now, online literary publications are as reputable, profitable, and career-building as print literary journals—if not more.

Publishing in online literary magazines offers benefits that publishing in print sometimes cannot:

  • Online archives have a longer shelf life than printed periodicals.
  • Online literary magazines are easily accessed by (and discovered by) readers as well as publishing professionals.
  • Online literary journals nominate for many of the same literary awards as print publications.
  • Online literary publications often cultivate larger readerships than print magazines thanks in part to simpler (and cheaper) distribution.
  • Readers (and writers) find it easier to share online literary magazines, increasing the likelihood of a work going viral.

Focusing your publishing efforts on building your reputation, as opposed to pursuing a specific publishing medium, is a stronger, smarter approach to establishing a successful writing career.

Q.: How Can You Determine The Reputation Of A Literary Journal?

A.: To evaluate the reputation of a literary magazine, there are a few criteria you can consider:

  • Professional credentials of the editors and the writers who are published in the magazine
  • Quality of production (design, proofreading, etc.)
  • The magazine’s ability to nominate its writers for major literary awards
  • The longevity of the magazine (how long it has been around can give a hint as to how likely it is that it will keep going)
  • Whether or not you personally see value in the content (because your opinion matters!)

Here at Writer’s Relief, we recommend that writers submit their work to a range of literary magazines, which means focusing not only on top-tier, famous literary publications, but also on reputable mid-size and even small periodicals. There are many advantages of this approach: So-called small publications can have a big effect on a writer’s career by way of exposure, award nominations, networking opportunities, and more.

Q.: Which Literary Magazines Publish Submissions By New And Unpublished Writers?

A.: Very few editors of literary magazines would turn away talented new writers just because they’d never been published. That said, some literary journals do tend to give priority to established writers. However, there are many others who welcome writing submissions from unpublished writers. In fact, many editors consider it a badge of honor to discover the next great writer in their pile of unsolicited submissions.

Here’s where you can learn more about how new writers can get published in literary journals.

Q.: What Formatting Rules Should Writers Know For Submitting To Literary Magazines?

A.: If the submissions guidelines page of a literary journal’s website doesn’t specify a format for submitted work, writers would do well to follow customary publishing industry protocol. Contact information in the upper left corner, standard fonts and margins, and headers that include name and page number will rarely rub editors the wrong way.

Most editors at literary magazines also like to read a cover letter or at least an author bio from writers who are hoping to secure publication.

Q.: What Are The Most Common Mistakes That Creative Writers Make When Submitting To Literary Magazines?

A.: If you’re a new writer trying to get published in a literary journal, here are the common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid!

Skipping the cover letter.  If a literary magazine editor indicates that he or she wants to read a cover letter, seize the opportunity to make a personal connection.

Ditching the author bio.  Some writers neglect to include an author bio in order to make a statement that only the written manuscript should matter in the editor’s decision to publish or not to publish. Other writers skip the author bio simply because they have a lack of publishing credits . Whatever your opinion, know this: If a literary magazine editor asks you for a bio, then you skip it at your own risk.

Clicking “send” too quickly.  Never hit the “send” button until you’re sure your submission is thoroughly proofread. You may even want to consider  working with a professional proofreader when submitting your creative writing to literary magazines and journals.

Narrowing the market.  Many writers get hung up on the notion that big-name literary magazines are the only worthwhile publications. Unfortunately, this mind-set often leads to limited publishing opportunities, especially for new writers.

Submitting without researching first.  Some writers send their creative writing to any and every literary magazine under the sun. This is not a policy we endorse. If you get a reputation for submission spam, you could find yourself blacklisted.

Ignoring submission guidelines.  Editors have told us that their number one pet peeve is submissions that totally ignore the submission guidelines. That said, many editors are flexible and may accept valid explanations for ignoring minor elements of submission guidelines.

And the number one, most common mistake writers make when submitting to literary magazines…

Not submitting frequently enough.

If you can’t find a home for a truly good piece of writing, chances are you’ve given up too quickly. There are thousands of literary magazines out there. It can take time to find the right one. But with time constraints, research frustrations, query/cover letter etiquette questions, and countless insecurities, it’s a wonder some writers get any submissions out the door at all!

Q.: Are There Any Companies That Help Writers Get Their Writing Published In Literary Magazines And Journals?

A.: Yes! Writer’s Relief has been helping creative writers get published in literary journals since 1994. Our clients have had their poems, stories, and essays published in thousands of reputable literary magazines. We help new writers nab their first coveted publications and established writers to spend more time writing and less time wading through the busywork and research of making submissions.

Check out some of the countless reviews and testimonials for Writer’s Relief . Then, reach out to us to learn how we can help you get published in literary magazines and literary journals.

Question: Did we answer your questions about literary journals? If not, post your question in the comment section!

Submit to Review Board

Thanks for these tips. Question: I’ve had a number of publications in literary magazines under my full, three-pronged name. I’ve been subject to some persuasive arguments lately that I should switch to using two initials and a single surname (easier to say, and also gender-neutral). At this point in the game, I’m wondering how that would affect my writer’s bio, and whether I should just continue with my 6-syllable full name. I can’t seem to pull up any advice on the matter with a Google search. Please advise!

Blog Editor

Hi Melinda,

Your name is not overly difficult to say or pronounce, so there’s no real reason to change it. But if you want to be MP Wiltshire, that’s your prerogative. You could state in your cover letter, “previous publications under the name Melinda Price Wiltshire,” but then that cancels out any deception about your gender to the editor.

Amelia Smith

From what I’ve seen, many literary magazines do not accept submissions that have been posted elsewhere, including social media. If I submit a piece to social media for proofreading, then make revisions to the piece, will these literary magazines still not accept it? Thanks in advance!

Published is published, regardless of the reason.

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The 10 Best Essay Collections of the Decade

Ever tried. ever failed. no matter..

Friends, it’s true: the end of the decade approaches. It’s been a difficult, anxiety-provoking, morally compromised decade, but at least it’s been populated by some damn fine literature. We’ll take our silver linings where we can.

So, as is our hallowed duty as a literary and culture website—though with full awareness of the potentially fruitless and endlessly contestable nature of the task—in the coming weeks, we’ll be taking a look at the best and most important (these being not always the same) books of the decade that was. We will do this, of course, by means of a variety of lists. We began with the best debut novels , the best short story collections , the best poetry collections , and the best memoirs of the decade , and we have now reached the fifth list in our series: the best essay collections published in English between 2010 and 2019.

The following books were chosen after much debate (and several rounds of voting) by the Literary Hub staff. Tears were spilled, feelings were hurt, books were re-read. And as you’ll shortly see, we had a hard time choosing just ten—so we’ve also included a list of dissenting opinions, and an even longer list of also-rans. As ever, free to add any of your own favorites that we’ve missed in the comments below.

The Top Ten

Oliver sacks, the mind’s eye (2010).

Toward the end of his life, maybe suspecting or sensing that it was coming to a close, Dr. Oliver Sacks tended to focus his efforts on sweeping intellectual projects like On the Move (a memoir), The River of Consciousness (a hybrid intellectual history), and Hallucinations (a book-length meditation on, what else, hallucinations). But in 2010, he gave us one more classic in the style that first made him famous, a form he revolutionized and brought into the contemporary literary canon: the medical case study as essay. In The Mind’s Eye , Sacks focuses on vision, expanding the notion to embrace not only how we see the world, but also how we map that world onto our brains when our eyes are closed and we’re communing with the deeper recesses of consciousness. Relaying histories of patients and public figures, as well as his own history of ocular cancer (the condition that would eventually spread and contribute to his death), Sacks uses vision as a lens through which to see all of what makes us human, what binds us together, and what keeps us painfully apart. The essays that make up this collection are quintessential Sacks: sensitive, searching, with an expertise that conveys scientific information and experimentation in terms we can not only comprehend, but which also expand how we see life carrying on around us. The case studies of “Stereo Sue,” of the concert pianist Lillian Kalir, and of Howard, the mystery novelist who can no longer read, are highlights of the collection, but each essay is a kind of gem, mined and polished by one of the great storytellers of our era.  –Dwyer Murphy, CrimeReads Managing Editor

John Jeremiah Sullivan, Pulphead (2011)

The American essay was having a moment at the beginning of the decade, and Pulphead was smack in the middle. Without any hard data, I can tell you that this collection of John Jeremiah Sullivan’s magazine features—published primarily in GQ , but also in The Paris Review , and Harper’s —was the only full book of essays most of my literary friends had read since Slouching Towards Bethlehem , and probably one of the only full books of essays they had even heard of.

Well, we all picked a good one. Every essay in Pulphead is brilliant and entertaining, and illuminates some small corner of the American experience—even if it’s just one house, with Sullivan and an aging writer inside (“Mr. Lytle” is in fact a standout in a collection with no filler; fittingly, it won a National Magazine Award and a Pushcart Prize). But what are they about? Oh, Axl Rose, Christian Rock festivals, living around the filming of One Tree Hill , the Tea Party movement, Michael Jackson, Bunny Wailer, the influence of animals, and by god, the Miz (of Real World/Road Rules Challenge fame).

But as Dan Kois has pointed out , what connects these essays, apart from their general tone and excellence, is “their author’s essential curiosity about the world, his eye for the perfect detail, and his great good humor in revealing both his subjects’ and his own foibles.” They are also extremely well written, drawing much from fictional techniques and sentence craft, their literary pleasures so acute and remarkable that James Wood began his review of the collection in The New Yorker with a quiz: “Are the following sentences the beginnings of essays or of short stories?” (It was not a hard quiz, considering the context.)

It’s hard not to feel, reading this collection, like someone reached into your brain, took out the half-baked stuff you talk about with your friends, researched it, lived it, and represented it to you smarter and better and more thoroughly than you ever could. So read it in awe if you must, but read it.  –Emily Temple, Senior Editor

Aleksandar Hemon, The Book of My Lives (2013)

Such is the sentence-level virtuosity of Aleksandar Hemon—the Bosnian-American writer, essayist, and critic—that throughout his career he has frequently been compared to the granddaddy of borrowed language prose stylists: Vladimir Nabokov. While it is, of course, objectively remarkable that anyone could write so beautifully in a language they learned in their twenties, what I admire most about Hemon’s work is the way in which he infuses every essay and story and novel with both a deep humanity and a controlled (but never subdued) fury. He can also be damn funny. Hemon grew up in Sarajevo and left in 1992 to study in Chicago, where he almost immediately found himself stranded, forced to watch from afar as his beloved home city was subjected to a relentless four-year bombardment, the longest siege of a capital in the history of modern warfare. This extraordinary memoir-in-essays is many things: it’s a love letter to both the family that raised him and the family he built in exile; it’s a rich, joyous, and complex portrait of a place the 90s made synonymous with war and devastation; and it’s an elegy for the wrenching loss of precious things. There’s an essay about coming of age in Sarajevo and another about why he can’t bring himself to leave Chicago. There are stories about relationships forged and maintained on the soccer pitch or over the chessboard, and stories about neighbors and mentors turned monstrous by ethnic prejudice. As a chorus they sing with insight, wry humor, and unimaginable sorrow. I am not exaggerating when I say that the collection’s devastating final piece, “The Aquarium”—which details his infant daughter’s brain tumor and the agonizing months which led up to her death—remains the most painful essay I have ever read.  –Dan Sheehan, Book Marks Editor

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass (2013)

Of every essay in my relentlessly earmarked copy of Braiding Sweetgrass , Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer’s gorgeously rendered argument for why and how we should keep going, there’s one that especially hits home: her account of professor-turned-forester Franz Dolp. When Dolp, several decades ago, revisited the farm that he had once shared with his ex-wife, he found a scene of destruction: The farm’s new owners had razed the land where he had tried to build a life. “I sat among the stumps and the swirling red dust and I cried,” he wrote in his journal.

So many in my generation (and younger) feel this kind of helplessness–and considerable rage–at finding ourselves newly adult in a world where those in power seem determined to abandon or destroy everything that human bodies have always needed to survive: air, water, land. Asking any single book to speak to this helplessness feels unfair, somehow; yet, Braiding Sweetgrass does, by weaving descriptions of indigenous tradition with the environmental sciences in order to show what survival has looked like over the course of many millennia. Kimmerer’s essays describe her personal experience as a Potawotami woman, plant ecologist, and teacher alongside stories of the many ways that humans have lived in relationship to other species. Whether describing Dolp’s work–he left the stumps for a life of forest restoration on the Oregon coast–or the work of others in maple sugar harvesting, creating black ash baskets, or planting a Three Sisters garden of corn, beans, and squash, she brings hope. “In ripe ears and swelling fruit, they counsel us that all gifts are multiplied in relationship,” she writes of the Three Sisters, which all sustain one another as they grow. “This is how the world keeps going.”  –Corinne Segal, Senior Editor

Hilton Als, White Girls (2013)

In a world where we are so often reduced to one essential self, Hilton Als’ breathtaking book of critical essays, White Girls , which meditates on the ways he and other subjects read, project and absorb parts of white femininity, is a radically liberating book. It’s one of the only works of critical thinking that doesn’t ask the reader, its author or anyone he writes about to stoop before the doorframe of complete legibility before entering. Something he also permitted the subjects and readers of his first book, the glorious book-length essay, The Women , a series of riffs and psychological portraits of Dorothy Dean, Owen Dodson, and the author’s own mother, among others. One of the shifts of that book, uncommon at the time, was how it acknowledges the way we inhabit bodies made up of variously gendered influences. To read White Girls now is to experience the utter freedom of this gift and to marvel at Als’ tremendous versatility and intelligence.

He is easily the most diversely talented American critic alive. He can write into genres like pop music and film where being part of an audience is a fantasy happening in the dark. He’s also wired enough to know how the art world builds reputations on the nod of rich white patrons, a significant collision in a time when Jean-Michel Basquiat is America’s most expensive modern artist. Als’ swerving and always moving grip on performance means he’s especially good on describing the effect of art which is volatile and unstable and built on the mingling of made-up concepts and the hard fact of their effect on behavior, such as race. Writing on Flannery O’Connor for instance he alone puts a finger on her “uneasy and unavoidable union between black and white, the sacred and the profane, the shit and the stars.” From Eminem to Richard Pryor, André Leon Talley to Michael Jackson, Als enters the life and work of numerous artists here who turn the fascinations of race and with whiteness into fury and song and describes the complexity of their beauty like his life depended upon it. There are also brief memoirs here that will stop your heart. This is an essential work to understanding American culture.  –John Freeman, Executive Editor

Eula Biss, On Immunity (2014)

We move through the world as if we can protect ourselves from its myriad dangers, exercising what little agency we have in an effort to keep at bay those fears that gather at the edges of any given life: of loss, illness, disaster, death. It is these fears—amplified by the birth of her first child—that Eula Biss confronts in her essential 2014 essay collection, On Immunity . As any great essayist does, Biss moves outward in concentric circles from her own very private view of the world to reveal wider truths, discovering as she does a culture consumed by anxiety at the pervasive toxicity of contemporary life. As Biss interrogates this culture—of privilege, of whiteness—she interrogates herself, questioning the flimsy ways in which we arm ourselves with science or superstition against the impurities of daily existence.

Five years on from its publication, it is dismaying that On Immunity feels as urgent (and necessary) a defense of basic science as ever. Vaccination, we learn, is derived from vacca —for cow—after the 17th-century discovery that a small application of cowpox was often enough to inoculate against the scourge of smallpox, an etymological digression that belies modern conspiratorial fears of Big Pharma and its vaccination agenda. But Biss never scolds or belittles the fears of others, and in her generosity and openness pulls off a neat (and important) trick: insofar as we are of the very world we fear, she seems to be suggesting, we ourselves are impure, have always been so, permeable, vulnerable, yet so much stronger than we think.  –Jonny Diamond, Editor-in-Chief 

Rebecca Solnit, The Mother of All Questions (2016)

When Rebecca Solnit’s essay, “Men Explain Things to Me,” was published in 2008, it quickly became a cultural phenomenon unlike almost any other in recent memory, assigning language to a behavior that almost every woman has witnessed—mansplaining—and, in the course of identifying that behavior, spurring a movement, online and offline, to share the ways in which patriarchal arrogance has intersected all our lives. (It would also come to be the titular essay in her collection published in 2014.) The Mother of All Questions follows up on that work and takes it further in order to examine the nature of self-expression—who is afforded it and denied it, what institutions have been put in place to limit it, and what happens when it is employed by women. Solnit has a singular gift for describing and decoding the misogynistic dynamics that govern the world so universally that they can seem invisible and the gendered violence that is so common as to seem unremarkable; this naming is powerful, and it opens space for sharing the stories that shape our lives.

The Mother of All Questions, comprised of essays written between 2014 and 2016, in many ways armed us with some of the tools necessary to survive the gaslighting of the Trump years, in which many of us—and especially women—have continued to hear from those in power that the things we see and hear do not exist and never existed. Solnit also acknowledges that labels like “woman,” and other gendered labels, are identities that are fluid in reality; in reviewing the book for The New Yorker , Moira Donegan suggested that, “One useful working definition of a woman might be ‘someone who experiences misogyny.'” Whichever words we use, Solnit writes in the introduction to the book that “when words break through unspeakability, what was tolerated by a society sometimes becomes intolerable.” This storytelling work has always been vital; it continues to be vital, and in this book, it is brilliantly done.  –Corinne Segal, Senior Editor

Valeria Luiselli, Tell Me How It Ends (2017)

The newly minted MacArthur fellow Valeria Luiselli’s four-part (but really six-part) essay  Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions  was inspired by her time spent volunteering at the federal immigration court in New York City, working as an interpreter for undocumented, unaccompanied migrant children who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Written concurrently with her novel  Lost Children Archive  (a fictional exploration of the same topic), Luiselli’s essay offers a fascinating conceit, the fashioning of an argument from the questions on the government intake form given to these children to process their arrivals. (Aside from the fact that this essay is a heartbreaking masterpiece, this is such a  good  conceit—transforming a cold, reproducible administrative document into highly personal literature.) Luiselli interweaves a grounded discussion of the questionnaire with a narrative of the road trip Luiselli takes with her husband and family, across America, while they (both Mexican citizens) wait for their own Green Card applications to be processed. It is on this trip when Luiselli reflects on the thousands of migrant children mysteriously traveling across the border by themselves. But the real point of the essay is to actually delve into the real stories of some of these children, which are agonizing, as well as to gravely, clearly expose what literally happens, procedural, when they do arrive—from forms to courts, as they’re swallowed by a bureaucratic vortex. Amid all of this, Luiselli also takes on more, exploring the larger contextual relationship between the United States of America and Mexico (as well as other countries in Central America, more broadly) as it has evolved to our current, adverse moment.  Tell Me How It Ends  is so small, but it is so passionate and vigorous: it desperately accomplishes in its less-than-100-pages-of-prose what centuries and miles and endless records of federal bureaucracy have never been able, and have never cared, to do: reverse the dehumanization of Latin American immigrants that occurs once they set foot in this country.  –Olivia Rutigliano, CrimeReads Editorial Fellow

Zadie Smith, Feel Free (2018)

In the essay “Meet Justin Bieber!” in Feel Free , Zadie Smith writes that her interest in Justin Bieber is not an interest in the interiority of the singer himself, but in “the idea of the love object”. This essay—in which Smith imagines a meeting between Bieber and the late philosopher Martin Buber (“Bieber and Buber are alternative spellings of the same German surname,” she explains in one of many winning footnotes. “Who am I to ignore these hints from the universe?”). Smith allows that this premise is a bit premise -y: “I know, I know.” Still, the resulting essay is a very funny, very smart, and un-tricky exploration of individuality and true “meeting,” with a dash of late capitalism thrown in for good measure. The melding of high and low culture is the bread and butter of pretty much every prestige publication on the internet these days (and certainly of the Twitter feeds of all “public intellectuals”), but the essays in Smith’s collection don’t feel familiar—perhaps because hers is, as we’ve long known, an uncommon skill. Though I believe Smith could probably write compellingly about anything, she chooses her subjects wisely. She writes with as much electricity about Brexit as the aforementioned Beliebers—and each essay is utterly engrossing. “She contains multitudes, but her point is we all do,” writes Hermione Hoby in her review of the collection in The New Republic . “At the same time, we are, in our endless difference, nobody but ourselves.”  –Jessie Gaynor, Social Media Editor

Tressie McMillan Cottom, Thick: And Other Essays (2019)

Tressie McMillan Cottom is an academic who has transcended the ivory tower to become the sort of public intellectual who can easily appear on radio or television talk shows to discuss race, gender, and capitalism. Her collection of essays reflects this duality, blending scholarly work with memoir to create a collection on the black female experience in postmodern America that’s “intersectional analysis with a side of pop culture.” The essays range from an analysis of sexual violence, to populist politics, to social media, but in centering her own experiences throughout, the collection becomes something unlike other pieces of criticism of contemporary culture. In explaining the title, she reflects on what an editor had said about her work: “I was too readable to be academic, too deep to be popular, too country black to be literary, and too naïve to show the rigor of my thinking in the complexity of my prose. I had wanted to create something meaningful that sounded not only like me, but like all of me. It was too thick.” One of the most powerful essays in the book is “Dying to be Competent” which begins with her unpacking the idiocy of LinkedIn (and the myth of meritocracy) and ends with a description of her miscarriage, the mishandling of black woman’s pain, and a condemnation of healthcare bureaucracy. A finalist for the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction, Thick confirms McMillan Cottom as one of our most fearless public intellectuals and one of the most vital.  –Emily Firetog, Deputy Editor

Dissenting Opinions

The following books were just barely nudged out of the top ten, but we (or at least one of us) couldn’t let them pass without comment.

Elif Batuman, The Possessed (2010)

In The Possessed Elif Batuman indulges her love of Russian literature and the result is hilarious and remarkable. Each essay of the collection chronicles some adventure or other that she had while in graduate school for Comparative Literature and each is more unpredictable than the next. There’s the time a “well-known 20th-centuryist” gave a graduate student the finger; and the time when Batuman ended up living in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, for a summer; and the time that she convinced herself Tolstoy was murdered and spent the length of the Tolstoy Conference in Yasnaya Polyana considering clues and motives. Rich in historic detail about Russian authors and literature and thoughtfully constructed, each essay is an amalgam of critical analysis, cultural criticism, and serious contemplation of big ideas like that of identity, intellectual legacy, and authorship. With wit and a serpentine-like shape to her narratives, Batuman adopts a form reminiscent of a Socratic discourse, setting up questions at the beginning of her essays and then following digressions that more or less entreat the reader to synthesize the answer for herself. The digressions are always amusing and arguably the backbone of the collection, relaying absurd anecdotes with foreign scholars or awkward, surreal encounters with Eastern European strangers. Central also to the collection are Batuman’s intellectual asides where she entertains a theory—like the “problem of the person”: the inability to ever wholly capture one’s character—that ultimately layer the book’s themes. “You are certainly my most entertaining student,” a professor said to Batuman. But she is also curious and enthusiastic and reflective and so knowledgeable that she might even convince you (she has me!) that you too love Russian literature as much as she does. –Eleni Theodoropoulos, Editorial Fellow

Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist (2014)

Roxane Gay’s now-classic essay collection is a book that will make you laugh, think, cry, and then wonder, how can cultural criticism be this fun? My favorite essays in the book include Gay’s musings on competitive Scrabble, her stranded-in-academia dispatches, and her joyous film and television criticism, but given the breadth of topics Roxane Gay can discuss in an entertaining manner, there’s something for everyone in this one. This book is accessible because feminism itself should be accessible – Roxane Gay is as likely to draw inspiration from YA novels, or middle-brow shows about friendship, as she is to introduce concepts from the academic world, and if there’s anyone I trust to bridge the gap between high culture, low culture, and pop culture, it’s the Goddess of Twitter. I used to host a book club dedicated to radical reads, and this was one of the first picks for the club; a week after the book club met, I spied a few of the attendees meeting in the café of the bookstore, and found out that they had bonded so much over discussing  Bad Feminist  that they couldn’t wait for the next meeting of the book club to keep discussing politics and intersectionality, and that, in a nutshell, is the power of Roxane. –Molly Odintz, CrimeReads Associate Editor

Rivka Galchen, Little Labors (2016)

Generally, I find stories about the trials and tribulations of child-having to be of limited appeal—useful, maybe, insofar as they offer validation that other people have also endured the bizarre realities of living with a tiny human, but otherwise liable to drift into the musings of parents thrilled at the simple fact of their own fecundity, as if they were the first ones to figure the process out (or not). But Little Labors is not simply an essay collection about motherhood, perhaps because Galchen initially “didn’t want to write about” her new baby—mostly, she writes, “because I had never been interested in babies, or mothers; in fact, those subjects had seemed perfectly not interesting to me.” Like many new mothers, though, Galchen soon discovered her baby—which she refers to sometimes as “the puma”—to be a preoccupying thought, demanding to be written about. Galchen’s interest isn’t just in her own progeny, but in babies in literature (“Literature has more dogs than babies, and also more abortions”), The Pillow Book , the eleventh-century collection of musings by Sei Shōnagon, and writers who are mothers. There are sections that made me laugh out loud, like when Galchen continually finds herself in an elevator with a neighbor who never fails to remark on the puma’s size. There are also deeper, darker musings, like the realization that the baby means “that it’s not permissible to die. There are days when this does not feel good.” It is a slim collection that I happened to read at the perfect time, and it remains one of my favorites of the decade. –Emily Firetog, Deputy Editor

Charlie Fox, This Young Monster (2017)

On social media as in his writing, British art critic Charlie Fox rejects lucidity for allusion and doesn’t quite answer the Twitter textbox’s persistent question: “What’s happening?” These days, it’s hard to tell.  This Young Monster  (2017), Fox’s first book,was published a few months after Donald Trump’s election, and at one point Fox takes a swipe at a man he judges “direct from a nightmare and just a repulsive fucking goon.” Fox doesn’t linger on politics, though, since most of the monsters he looks at “embody otherness and make it into art, ripping any conventional idea of beauty to shreds and replacing it with something weird and troubling of their own invention.”

If clichés are loathed because they conform to what philosopher Georges Bataille called “the common measure,” then monsters are rebellious non-sequiturs, comedic or horrific derailments from a classical ideal. Perverts in the most literal sense, monsters have gone astray from some “proper” course. The book’s nine chapters, which are about a specific monster or type of monster, are full of callbacks to familiar and lesser-known media. Fox cites visual art, film, songs, and books with the screwy buoyancy of a savant. Take one of his essays, “Spook House,” framed as a stage play with two principal characters, Klaus (“an intoxicated young skinhead vampire”) and Hermione (“a teen sorceress with green skin and jet-black hair” who looks more like The Wicked Witch than her namesake). The chorus is a troupe of trick-or-treaters. Using the filmmaker Cameron Jamie as a starting point, the rest is free association on gothic decadence and Detroit and L.A. as cities of the dead. All the while, Klaus quotes from  Artforum ,  Dazed & Confused , and  Time Out. It’s a technical feat that makes fictionalized dialogue a conveyor belt for cultural criticism.

In Fox’s imagination, David Bowie and the Hydra coexist alongside Peter Pan, Dennis Hopper, and the maenads. Fox’s book reaches for the monster’s mask, not really to peel it off but to feel and smell the rubber schnoz, to know how it’s made before making sure it’s still snugly set. With a stylistic blend of arthouse suavity and B-movie chic,  This Young Monster considers how monsters in culture are made. Aren’t the scariest things made in post-production? Isn’t the creature just duplicity, like a looping choir or a dubbed scream? –Aaron Robertson, Assistant Editor

Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses (2017)

Elena Passarello’s collection of essays Animals Strike Curious Poses picks out infamous animals and grants them the voice, narrative, and history they deserve. Not only is a collection like this relevant during the sixth extinction but it is an ambitious historical and anthropological undertaking, which Passarello has tackled with thorough research and a playful tone that rather than compromise her subject, complicates and humanizes it. Passarello’s intention is to investigate the role of animals across the span of human civilization and in doing so, to construct a timeline of humanity as told through people’s interactions with said animals. “Of all the images that make our world, animal images are particularly buried inside us,” Passarello writes in her first essay, to introduce us to the object of the book and also to the oldest of her chosen characters: Yuka, a 39,000-year-old mummified woolly mammoth discovered in the Siberian permafrost in 2010. It was an occasion so remarkable and so unfathomable given the span of human civilization that Passarello says of Yuka: “Since language is epically younger than both thought and experience, ‘woolly mammoth’ means, to a human brain, something more like time.” The essay ends with a character placing a hand on a cave drawing of a woolly mammoth, accompanied by a phrase which encapsulates the author’s vision for the book: “And he becomes the mammoth so he can envision the mammoth.” In Passarello’s hands the imagined boundaries between the animal, natural, and human world disintegrate and what emerges is a cohesive if baffling integrated history of life. With the accuracy and tenacity of a journalist and the spirit of a storyteller, Elena Passarello has assembled a modern bestiary worthy of contemplation and awe. –Eleni Theodoropoulos, Editorial Fellow

Esmé Weijun Wang, The Collected Schizophrenias (2019)

Esmé Weijun Wang’s collection of essays is a kaleidoscopic look at mental health and the lives affected by the schizophrenias. Each essay takes on a different aspect of the topic, but you’ll want to read them together for a holistic perspective. Esmé Weijun Wang generously begins The Collected Schizophrenias by acknowledging the stereotype, “Schizophrenia terrifies. It is the archetypal disorder of lunacy.” From there, she walks us through the technical language, breaks down the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual ( DSM-5 )’s clinical definition. And then she gets very personal, telling us about how she came to her own diagnosis and the way it’s touched her daily life (her relationships, her ideas about motherhood). Esmé Weijun Wang is uniquely situated to write about this topic. As a former lab researcher at Stanford, she turns a precise, analytical eye to her experience while simultaneously unfolding everything with great patience for her reader. Throughout, she brilliantly dissects the language around mental health. (On saying “a person living with bipolar disorder” instead of using “bipolar” as the sole subject: “…we are not our diseases. We are instead individuals with disorders and malfunctions. Our conditions lie over us like smallpox blankets; we are one thing and the illness is another.”) She pinpoints the ways she arms herself against anticipated reactions to the schizophrenias: high fashion, having attended an Ivy League institution. In a particularly piercing essay, she traces mental illness back through her family tree. She also places her story within more mainstream cultural contexts, calling on groundbreaking exposés about the dangerous of institutionalization and depictions of mental illness in television and film (like the infamous Slender Man case, in which two young girls stab their best friend because an invented Internet figure told them to). At once intimate and far-reaching, The Collected Schizophrenias is an informative and important (and let’s not forget artful) work. I’ve never read a collection quite so beautifully-written and laid-bare as this. –Katie Yee, Book Marks Assistant Editor

Ross Gay, The Book of Delights (2019)

When Ross Gay began writing what would become The Book of Delights, he envisioned it as a project of daily essays, each focused on a moment or point of delight in his day. This plan quickly disintegrated; on day four, he skipped his self-imposed assignment and decided to “in honor and love, delight in blowing it off.” (Clearly, “blowing it off” is a relative term here, as he still produced the book.) Ross Gay is a generous teacher of how to live, and this moment of reveling in self-compassion is one lesson among many in The Book of Delights , which wanders from moments of connection with strangers to a shade of “red I don’t think I actually have words for,” a text from a friend reading “I love you breadfruit,” and “the sun like a guiding hand on my back, saying everything is possible. Everything .”

Gay does not linger on any one subject for long, creating the sense that delight is a product not of extenuating circumstances, but of our attention; his attunement to the possibilities of a single day, and awareness of all the small moments that produce delight, are a model for life amid the warring factions of the attention economy. These small moments range from the physical–hugging a stranger, transplanting fig cuttings–to the spiritual and philosophical, giving the impression of sitting beside Gay in his garden as he thinks out loud in real time. It’s a privilege to listen. –Corinne Segal, Senior Editor

Honorable Mentions

A selection of other books that we seriously considered for both lists—just to be extra about it (and because decisions are hard).

Terry Castle, The Professor and Other Writings (2010) · Joyce Carol Oates, In Rough Country (2010) · Geoff Dyer, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition (2011) · Christopher Hitchens, Arguably (2011) ·  Roberto Bolaño, tr. Natasha Wimmer, Between Parentheses (2011) · Dubravka Ugresic, tr. David Williams, Karaoke Culture (2011) · Tom Bissell, Magic Hours (2012)  · Kevin Young, The Grey Album (2012) · William H. Gass, Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts (2012) · Mary Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey (2012) · Herta Müller, tr. Geoffrey Mulligan, Cristina and Her Double (2013) · Leslie Jamison, The Empathy Exams (2014)  · Meghan Daum, The Unspeakable (2014)  · Daphne Merkin, The Fame Lunches (2014)  · Charles D’Ambrosio, Loitering (2015) · Wendy Walters, Multiply/Divide (2015) · Colm Tóibín, On Elizabeth Bishop (2015) ·  Renee Gladman, Calamities (2016)  · Jesmyn Ward, ed. The Fire This Time (2016)  · Lindy West, Shrill (2016)  · Mary Oliver, Upstream (2016)  · Emily Witt, Future Sex (2016)  · Olivia Laing, The Lonely City (2016)  · Mark Greif, Against Everything (2016)  · Durga Chew-Bose, Too Much and Not the Mood (2017)  · Sarah Gerard, Sunshine State (2017)  · Jim Harrison, A Really Big Lunch (2017)  · J.M. Coetzee, Late Essays: 2006-2017 (2017) · Melissa Febos, Abandon Me (2017)  · Louise Glück, American Originality (2017)  · Joan Didion, South and West (2017)  · Tom McCarthy, Typewriters, Bombs, Jellyfish (2017)  · Hanif Abdurraqib, They Can’t Kill Us Until they Kill Us (2017)  · Ta-Nehisi Coates, We Were Eight Years in Power (2017)  ·  Samantha Irby, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life (2017)  · Alexander Chee, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel (2018)  · Alice Bolin, Dead Girls (2018)  · Marilynne Robinson, What Are We Doing Here? (2018)  · Lorrie Moore, See What Can Be Done (2018)  · Maggie O’Farrell, I Am I Am I Am (2018)  · Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race (2018)  · Rachel Cusk, Coventry (2019)  · Jia Tolentino, Trick Mirror (2019)  · Emily Bernard, Black is the Body (2019)  · Toni Morrison, The Source of Self-Regard (2019)  · Margaret Renkl, Late Migrations (2019)  ·  Rachel Munroe, Savage Appetites (2019)  · Robert A. Caro,  Working  (2019) · Arundhati Roy, My Seditious Heart (2019).

Emily Temple

Emily Temple

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Written by S. Kalekar April 17th, 2023

30 Literary Magazines that Publish Poetry

These magazines accept poetry, in various forms and styles. Many of them also accept other genres, like fiction and nonfiction. Some of these magazines pay writers. They are in no particular order.

The Four Faced Liar They accept poetry (up to 3 pages), fiction, creative nonfiction, and art. Pay is €100 for poetry, and €100-200 for other genres. They are reading submissions for their second issue; the deadline is 30 April 2023. Details here and here .

mercury firs This is a journal of poetry and text, with a special interest in translation and ecologically-engaged writing. Send about 3-12 pages of poetry / text. They have published two issues, so far. Details here .

Bard & Prose Their website says, “Bard & Prose is an online ezine founded with the goal of intersecting literature with critical insights. Our ezine is filled with unique and interesting pieces of nonfiction, poetry, and critical insights in aspects of literature that deserve a home.” Details here .

Poetry Pacific They welcome shortish poetry, including reprints, as well as visual art, year round. Send up to 5 pieces. Details here .

Twenty-two twenty-eight Their tagline is, ‘For people who watch the world’. They accept poetry (send 5-7 poems), fiction, non-fiction essays, visual art, music, and videos. Pay is $30. Details here .

Last Stanza Poetry Journal They want poetry on ‘ The Things We Carry ’ theme. “As with every issue, poems submitted do not need to follow the prompt/theme. A single $100 award will be given for an outstanding poem.” Poems can be any style; they prefer non-rhyming. Send up to 5 poems. The deadline is 30 June 2023. Details here .

Matter Press: The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts They read fiction, including fictional prose poems, and creative nonfiction, including creative nonfiction prose poetry. “We aren’t as concerned with labels—hint fiction, prose poetry, micro fiction, flash fiction, and so on—as we are with what compression means to you. In other words, what form “compression” takes in each artist’s work will be up to each individual.” Submit works up to 600 words. They pay $50. The deadline is 15 June 2023. Details here and here .

Poetry Magazine This magazine publishes poetry, translations, video poems, visual poetry, prose (essays about poetry), and book reviews on poetry. Besides these, they have submission calls for two features: — Not Too Hard to Master: This a new prose column; ““Not Too Hard to Master” is a new series of poets writing on form. We’ve published two pieces in this series so far …(on shape/concrete poems and on the sestina) – and are looking for new prose pieces on forms (either received or invented) that have not already been written about for the series. (Please note that we have a forthcoming piece on the burning haibun. We will update this list as we accept more pieces.) We’re looking for poets who are working in form to write reflective, lyric essays about why a particular form is worth exploring. We are not interested in scholarly or academic writing for this feature.” Each submission for this feature should contain these three components: A narrative or personal essay about the form itself; examples of the form; and a prompt or generative exercise for readers to create their own poem in the form. — Special Call for Archival Portfolios: “ As part of the 110th anniversary of  Poetry , we are beginning a multi-year project that will interrogate the magazine’s archive for absences and erasures. We invite you to submit folios focused on individual poets, movements, dynamic years, forms, or styles. … These folios will be 25-35 pages in length, and may include photos, letters, interviews, and other ephemera in addition to poems. These folios should include previously unpublished poems, poems published only in limited edition runs, or out-of-print work. … We are particularly interested in poets, movements, and styles from 1912–1980.” Poetry Magazine pays $10/line of text poetry up to $300, and for audio, video and visual poems, they pay $300; prose is $150/page. Details here and here .

Menagerie They accept poetry (3-5 poems), fiction, and nonfiction. “We believe in sentences so sharp they draw blood, the strange and inexplicable, the wild and weird and uncanny, words in thickets, clusters, and flocks, pieces that move us beyond caring what others think about said pieces.” They pay $50. Details here and here .

Terrain.org They welcome submissions on place, climate, and justice – poetry (send 2-6 poems), fiction, and nonfiction are open through April, while art is open year-round. They also accept translations. Payment is a minimum of $50. And, “All accepted submissions by writers of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, women, and/or other marginalized communities whose contributions explore place particularly in the context of social, environmental, or climate justice are considered for our annual Editor’s Prize of $500 per genre.” The deadline is 30 April 2023. Details here and here .

Blue Unicorn Their website says, “Blue Unicorn looks for poems that you couldn’t possibly confuse with prose. That distinctiveness may come from form–we welcomed rhyme and meter when these tools were all but banished elsewhere. But the kick can come just as well (or also) from original imagery, gleaming sensory description, or the imaginative handling of idea. … We also take translations, always looking for less familiar poets and languages, and the occasional piece of art.” The magazine has been publishing since 1977. Contributors get two copies, and their six annual Pushcart Prize nominees receive honoraria of $50 each. Details here .

The Threepenny Review This respected literary magazine accepts poetry (up to 5 poems), fiction, nonfiction, and Table Talk pieces. Pay is $200 per poem or Table Talk piece, and $400 for fiction and nonfiction. The deadline is 30 April 2023. Details here and here .

Contemporary Verse 2 This quarterly literary journal publishes poetry (up to 6 pages) and critical writing about poetry, including interviews, articles, essays, and reviews. They also welcome poetry submissions in French, as well as translation projects, including both French to English and English to French. Pay is $30/poem, $50-$100 for interviews and articles, $40-$150 for essays, and $50-$80 for reviews. The deadline is 31 May 2023. Details here .

Five Fleas They want 1 to 10 of “your itchiest poetry”, of up to 10 lines each. Details here .

Guernica Guernica is a magazine of global arts and politics. They publish poetry (send up to 5 poems), translations are welcome, fiction, and nonfiction. Pay is $50 for poems and $100-150 for other genres. Details here and here .

The Lyric Magazine Their website says, “Founded in 1921, The Lyric is the oldest magazine in North America in continuous publication devoted to traditional poetry.” And, “We use rhymed verse in traditional forms, for the most part, with an occasional piece of blank or free verse. Forty or so lines is our usual limit.” Poems have to be mailed. Contributors receive a copy, and are eligible for quarterly and annual prizes. Details here .

The Paris Review They are open for poetry submissions through April. Send up to 6 poems. While they’ve reached capacity on Submittable, they will accept postal poetry submissions, postmarked till 30 th April 2023. (They are scheduled to open for poetry submissions next in July, and for prose submissions, in September.) Details here .

Poetrybay “Poetrybay seeks fine poetry,  reviews, commentary and essays without restriction in form or content”. Details here .

The Cincinnati Review They take submissions for the print magazine thrice yearly, of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry – in May, September, and December. Submissions open at the beginning of these months, and close when the submission cap is reached. Those who have disabilities or are incarcerated can submit through the postal service. See the editor preferences here . Submissions for their miCRo series are usually open on an ongoing basis, with some exceptions. This is their weekly online flash feature; fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and hybrid. Send up to 32 lines or poetry for miCRo, and up to 5 poems for the print magazine. Rates are $25 for miCRo, and $25/page for prose and $30/page for poetry for the print magazine. Details here and here .

The Other Side of Hope: Journeys in Refugee and Immigrant Literature They publish poetry (up to 4 poems), fiction, and art from refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants only; these are unthemed. Nonfiction and book reviews are open to all, and the theme for those is migration. Pay is £100 for print, £50 for online contributions, and £300 for art; asylum seekers get gift cards. The deadline is 31 May 2023. Details here .

berlin lit This is a quarterly journal for new poetry, founded in Berlin. Send up to 5 poems; pay is €20/poem. The deadline is 15 May 2023. Details here .

Poetic Sun They accept poetry (in Chinese or English, up to 3 poems) ​and creative nonfiction, “We like poems with concrete imagery and strong emotions; We like poems that surprise us and make us weep like soft children; We like beautiful music flowing in your lines.” Details here .

Bruiser Bruiser publishes poetry, prose, image, audio, video, comix, as long as it can be shared digitally. “We are interested in genre bending, formal experimentation, critical analysis, and collaboration. We are drawn to the strange, the grotesque, the radical, the degenerate. We want work that moves forward while looking back, takes risks, steps on toes, creates discomfort.” Details here .

Off Topic Publishing: Poetry Box They send one poem a month out to their Poetry Box subscribers, along with tea and chocolate. Their website says, “Submit 1-3 poems of any style and theme by the 25th of each month. Poems received after the 25th will be considered in the next batch. The poem should be no more than 15 lines (including blank lines). One poem will be selected for publication each month and printed postcard-style to be mailed out to our Poetry Box subscribers. These selections are made two months in advance.” Pay is CAD30. Details here .

Ballast They read poetry submissions year-round. Send 3-5 poems. Long poems can be up to 15 pages. They also accept translations. They publish book reviews and critical essays. Details here .

Amsterdam Quarterly This is an online and print magazine; you can read about them here . The theme for the Summer 2023 issue is ‘ On the Move ’. Poems should be no longer than two A4 pages; submit up to two works per reading period (i.e. two poems, or one poem and one short story). They also publish articles, fiction, essays and other prose, artwork, and photography. Payment is a contributor copy. The deadline is 30 April 2023. Details here .

50 Haikus “50 Haikus is a literary journal featuring only Haiku poetry in open form. Each issue contains exactly 50 Haiku poems by established and emerging poets.” Send one poem per submission. Details here .

Dreams & Nightmares Their website says, “I print primarily poetry, but also publish a small amount of short fiction. The genres of fantasy and SF are preferred. I am interested in experimental formats and content, and prefer fantastic horror a la Lovecraft or Blackwood to the blood and gore type. … The magazine consists of 24 digest-sized pages with card-stock cover.” Send up to 2 pages of poetry. Details here .

Old Pal They accept poetry (up to 10 pages), fiction, criticism, excerpts, audio, mixed media, and various mediums of art. Pay is $50. The deadline is 20 May 2023. Details here .

Showcase: Object & Idea Showcase is a new Substack-based project. They publish poetry (send 1 poem) and flash (fiction and nonfiction), as well as reprints. “We explore Object & Idea. A poem and a prose piece are selected for each monthly issue, and the authors answer questions about the meaning behind their work.” Also, “Every author can submit one poem or prose piece for three weeks before the launch of each issue, or multiple pieces for a fee during the same period. We publish monthly and generally in the 3rd full week of each month via Substack.” Pay is $50. The deadline for fee-free submissions is 12 th May 2023. Details  here and here .

Bio:  S. Kalekar is the pseudonym of a regular contributor to this magazine.

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American Fiction and the ‘Just Literature’ Problem

The film is not only a satire, but also a lament about the impossibility of making—or at least getting paid handsomely for—apolitical Black art.

Screengrab from "American Fiction," showing a black couple walking outdoors

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“Why are these books here?” asks Thelonious “Monk” Ellison, the writer protagonist of the film American Fiction , as he points to four novels stacked neatly on the shelf of a chain bookstore. The name Ellison sticks out from their spines.

Monk wants to know why his Greek-tragedy-inspired novels are housed not in “Mythology” but in the “African American Studies” section. A bookstore employee offers the obvious explanation: “I would imagine that this author, Ellison, is … Black.” He has the decency to stammer the response, but this does little to alleviate Monk’s fury. “That’s me, Ellison. He is me, and he and I are Black,” the writer fumes. “These books have nothing to do with African American studies.” He taps one of his titles with an impatient finger. “They’re just literature .”

“He is me, and he and I are Black” is something like a thesis statement for American Fiction . Like the 2001 novel on which it’s based— Erasure , by Percival Everett—the film trades on the gap between this he and I , between how Monk is seen by others (as a Black novelist) and how Monk sees himself (as a novelist who is Black). It trades, too, on the distance between a writer who insists that his work is “just literature ” and an industry that demands that any novel by a Black writer is just literature: a tool for social justice. This latter component is what distinguishes the film from its novelistic predecessor: Whereas Erasure has its sights set on political correctness (a very early-2000s bugaboo), American Fiction is largely about politics . If 2001’s Monk recoiled against the racial stereotypes favored by bleeding-heart liberals, his 2023 successor resents how Black writers are recruited for anti-racism, progressive politics, and invectives against what one white character calls “the carceral state.”

Read: American Fiction is more than racial satire

Some commentators have noted that American Fiction shares much in common with earlier works about Black tokenization in the arts: films such as 1987’s Hollywood Shuffle , which skewers the movie business; 1993’s CB4 , which satirizes the music industry; and 2000’s Bamboozled , which takes aim at television. American Fiction belongs to a popular if loosely constructed genre we might call the “tokenism exposé”: works that reveal the pressures placed on minorities to be “authentic” (read: stereotypical) representatives of their identity group. As NPR’s Aisha Harris recently remarked , “Every era gets at least one or two notable social satires wrestling with the tension between Black art and commerce.”

Yet American Fiction , directed by Cord Jefferson, a former journalist who once wrote another viral tokenism exposé about the “racism beat” in American media, is also clearly a product of the year it was released. The film joins other 2023 send-ups of the literary landscape—R. F. Kuang’s novel Yellowface , Brandon Taylor’s The Late Americans —in its remorseless ridicule of the progressive identity politics of the moment. These recent entries in the tokenism genre stand out from their predecessors because of the deep pessimism they bring to bear on their subject matter.

Jefferson, Kuang, and Taylor shine mortuary lighting on the post–George Floyd era, exposing how 2020 brought a reification of racialism in the publishing industry and academia. But compared with some earlier tokenism exposés—such as CB4 , which concludes with its protagonist shedding stereotypes and finding success on his own terms—these recent works are decidedly more cynical about the possibility of escaping tokenization. Even as American Fiction , Yellowface , and The Late Americans offer withering portrayals of a race-obsessed culture, the works themselves can’t exit that world’s gilded orbit. These works succeed because the authors don’t try to extricate them from the web of the industry they so deftly lampoon.

Under the unsparing eye of Jefferson, American Fiction trusses and roasts the pieties of the contemporary publishing industry. Monk is the wrong kind of Black writer: an aesthete, inaccessible, disinterested in politics and tetchy about feel-good progressivism. From the point of view of the publishers who rebuff his advances, his great sin is that he is a silver-spooned, elite-educated Black novelist who doesn’t write gritty, digestible books about Black poverty. Everyone wishes Monk were more like his authorial nemesis, Sintara Golden, a silver-spooned, elite-educated Black novelist who does write gritty, digestible books about Black poverty.

Demoralized by the fallen state of African American literature, Monk dashes off a racist satire—which he titles My Pafology —that is chockablock with crass stereotypes, and demands that his agent send it off to editors as a half practical joke, half fuck-you meant to call Big Fiction on its penchant for pandering. To Monk’s surprise (and not inconsiderable horror), a major publisher buys the manuscript to the tune of nearly seven figures. Having written My Pafology under the pseudonym Stagg R. Leigh, Monk spends much of the film adopting, to great comic effect, a street-soaked alter ego: Stagg is definitely a fugitive, maybe a murderer. He speaks in hard grunts and splits at the sound of sirens. He is precisely what Monk—the Harvard man, the son of a doctor—is not. “Raw.” “Urban.” “Authentic.” The right kind of Black.

At the center of Monk’s acrimonious relationship with American literary culture is the question of representation: namely, what gets to count as Black representation and who gets to count as a “Black voice.” In Erasure , the novelist professes “not to believe in race” but concedes that “the society in which I live tells me that I am black.” The social imposition of race is the primary crisis of Monk’s professional life: Editors say they want to publish Black writers, but their vision of “Blackness” is in fact quite particular, underwritten by a hidden rubric that curates what forms of Black experience are desirable and (which is to say the same thing) marketable.

In his superb new book on the publishing industry—appropriately titled Big Fiction —the Emory University English professor Dan Sinykin remarks that Everett’s primary target in Erasure is “a publishing industry in which agents, editors, booksellers, reviewers, academics, and writers are all complicit in conflating fiction with the authentic experience of race.” In Sinykin’s view, what Everett offers is not so much a rejection of the transformation of books into commodities but rather a rejection of the “constraining racial fantasies” that dominate mainstream publishing, an industry that traffics in highly circumscribed—largely low-income and urban—representations of Black life. In other words, the kind of representations that tend to confirm and conform to rather than trouble and unseat racial stereotypes. “Look at what they publish,” Monk summarizes in American Fiction . “Look at what they expect us to write.”

Read: The invisible forces behind the books we read

And the problem isn’t just that publishing houses reduce Black novels to curios that get racially categorized—alongside other “exotic” texts—for the perusal of fascinated white audiences. American Fiction suggests that the increasing balkanization of literature into identity subcategories is indissociable from the creep of American narcissism. So-called minoritized audiences want stories that speak to their “lived experiences,” while upwardly mobile white audiences want stories that flatter their preconceived notions about those same minorities. In each case, identitarian literature fans the flames of self-obsession, reducing reading to either an act of racial mimesis or racial voyeurism. At one point in American Fiction , Sintara, the author of one of the pandering “Black experience” novels Monk detests, asks a mostly white audience: “Where are our stories? Where is our representation?” She doesn’t seem much troubled by the fact that the stories she wants to tell are the same stories good white liberals want her to tell. Black representation and Black fetishization turn out to be a horseshoe.

American Fiction isn’t just a satire. It’s a lament about the impossibility of making—or at least getting paid handsomely or becoming famous for—apolitical Black art. Monk grates against the encroachment of politics upon aesthetics, but his ethos can’t be accommodated within either the world of the film or the real world beyond it. The very idea of Black “art for art’s sake” sounds like a paradox, so habituated are we to associating Blackness with social critique.

Consider how reviewers have interpreted American Fiction ’s subplots involving Monk’s recently divorced brother and his ailing mother: A number of critics have described the “tonal tension” between the film’s family drama and the more boisterous comedy that encases it. Rather than view this uneasy and sometimes awkward balance as a shortcoming, however, we might instead read this tension as part of American Fiction ’s message. A movie about the struggles of a Black family that isn’t told as a racially charged melodrama would never be green-lighted by film studios. Instead, that plot must be snuck into the racial satire like a child’s unwanted vegetables because it is the satire, not the family story, that brings liberal white audiences to the theater. Artistic neutrality, disconnected from the messy world of politics, might be a fiction, but it’s also a pleasant fiction, one that “marginalized” writers—Monk, Everett, and Cord Jefferson alike—are not often permitted to enjoy.

While Monk grapples with whether to cash in on his identity for professional success, June Hayward, the narrator of R. F. Kuang’s Yellowface , decides to steal an identity to achieve that same end. A struggling white writer who daylights as an SAT tutor, June is deeply jealous of her college friend Athena Liu, a novelist—“Born in Hong Kong, raised between Sydney and New York”—who is catapulted into literary stardom almost immediately upon graduating from Yale. June thinks, “Publishing picks a winner—someone attractive enough, someone cool and young and, oh, we’re all thinking it, let’s just say it, ‘diverse’ enough—and lavishes all its money and resources on them.”

When Athena dies in a freak accident (a pancake is involved), June steals her manuscript and passes it off as her own, later adopting the equivocally Asian nom de plume “Juniper Song,” all the better to perform the titular act of “yellowface.” The self-described “racist thief” doesn’t get away with it, but June’s moral and professional shortcomings are perhaps not the core of the novel’s critique. Like Erasure and American Fiction , the real villain in Kuang’s tokenism exposé is a publishing industry that boils down the richness of human experience to a few readily commodifiable identity archetypes. And as with these other entries in the genre, Yellowface is marked by a thoroughgoing pessimism. When June is found out, the literary fraud is only temporarily defeated. She immediately envisions a strategy to transmogrify her humiliation into another fat book advance.

“I will craft, and sell, a story about how the pressures of publishing have made it impossible for white and nonwhite authors alike to succeed,” June muses. “About how Athena’s success was entirely manufactured, how she was only ever a token. About how my hoax—because let’s frame it as a hoax, not a theft—was really a way to expose the rotten foundations of this entire industry.”

To be sure, June ends the novel in monstrous fashion. But equally apparent is that she is a monster who has been made : a product of a contemporary literary culture that treats identities like ladder rungs, and that favors writers who are willing to practice the dark alchemy of converting racial pain into profit, shame into stacks of cash.

If a moral is to be won from Kuang’s novel, it is that literary conglomerates are a lot like casinos: The publishing house always wins. Recent years have seen them place their bet on politics. In our hyperpartisan nation, culture war sells, and one way to understand works like Yellowface is as a rejection of the lazy politics of literary fiction. June’s great epiphany is that the planet of publishing is held up by identitarian turtles all the way down: The limpid multiculturalism she takes advantage of and abhors is a form of identity politics, but so too is the white grievance politics she inevitably turns to when the jig is up. Even her planned memoir is not her own but a mirror held up to a squalid culture.

Like American Fiction and Yellowface , The Late Americans likewise lampoons the literary world’s narcissism and class-blindness, which have turned race into a fetish and poets into trauma pornographers. Set in Iowa City—and drawing on the author’s own experiences as an MFA candidate at the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop—Taylor’s novel is a series of portraits of students and their affiliates. Its depiction of the identitarian limitations placed on writers is especially damning. Indeed, the novel is both a response to and a rejection of the racialized restraints that the market has forced upon Taylor as a Black novelist: “I’m pressured as a working-class African American to commodify my experience for prestige,” the author , who grew up in a family with relatives who were illiterate, said in an interview this summer. “I find that really suspect.”

A working-class, gay, white poet is the vehicle for The Late Americans ’ novelistic broadside. Seamus despairs of the therapeutic turn of contemporary poetry, which he subjects to withering appraisal: “His classmates wrote only about the present and its urgency,” Seamus observes. “The very act of comprehension or contextualization was centered on the self, but the self as abstracted via badly understood Marxist ideology.” He decides that poetry has been reduced to “just a matching game, the poems simply cards.”

Literature more broadly has been reduced to a game of identitarian self-audit. But Seamus refuses to play. Reflecting on his poverty-stricken upbringing and his construction-worker father—a part-time actor who lost his foot to sepsis—Seamus muses “with a silly kind of meanness that if he were another kind of writer, a tacky writer, he could write about that . About the smell of his father’s rotting foot.” His classmates find his dense and technical poems—about abstruse topics such as Alsatian nuns—lifeless and problematic for their lack of social commentary. Seamus recognizes with bitterness that if he wrote about his traumatic childhood, those same peers “would call it brilliant.”

In this context, Taylor’s decision to cast what is perhaps the novel’s most autobiographical character as white counts as an act of defiance. It’s an attempt to loosen the racialized manacles placed on minority writers while also slyly highlighting the double standards of a literary culture that allows Black novelists to write poor white characters but balks at the inverse dynamic. Publishers expect Taylor to spin his working-class Black experience into profit, and instead he paints white poverty, creating a character who works as a mouthpiece with which to criticize the wispy values of those same publishers.

Tyler Austin Harper: I am a black professor. You don’t need to bring that up

And like the author of American Fiction , Seamus is keenly aware that if he leaned into his gayness, his poorness, his “downscale” whiteness, the literary world would instantly regard him as a promising young talent instead of a try-hard hack. Yet the poet refuses to bend his artistic vision to the dictates of the moment, or the crass moralizing and trauma profiteering that characterizes it. Unlike Monk or June, who succumb to the tokenizing imperatives of the publishing industry, Seamus takes a stand for aesthetic autonomy and independence.

This is a goal that Taylor, Seamus’s own creator, cannot quite reach—which is no doubt the point. The message of this tokenism exposé is that no minority who aspires to be a successful writer can fully win this freedom. Even as The Late Americans features a character who struggles valiantly against tokenism, it is deeply pessimistic about the prospect of real-world authors resisting it in the long run.

As American Fiction winds to a close, Monk meets with a Hollywood executive who is interested in bringing his cash-grab novel to the silver screen with a new, more cinematic ending. After workshopping multiple final scenes, the novelist (who wants to reject racial caricature) and the director (who wants a racially cartoonish conclusion) ironically prefer the story to end the same way: Stagg R. Leigh is shot to death by a multiracial police force. When Monk realizes that he has at once pleased the executive and landed on a conclusion that realizes his own artistic vision, a strange look—confusion, wry wonder, a tinge of horror—passes across his face. It becomes apparent that his desire and the desire of the exploitative filmmaker are one and the same. That American Fiction ends by tying a decisive bow on the satire—without resolving its protagonist’s family struggles or girlfriend trouble—is a savvy narrative choice that only drives this point home: Monk and Jefferson both know what their audiences do, and don’t, care about. We came to the movie lured by the promise of race talk, not for universalistic depictions of familial fracas.

The lesson the tokenism exposé leaves us with—a lesson uniquely calibrated to 2023, a year in which pundits asked, again and again, whether we had passed “peak woke” —is that every writer is subject to the publishing industry’s racializing gaze, and every writer who craves renown will eventually bend the knee. In this genre, characters bristle against the insistence that the only novels worth writing are those that stand in for social justice, and the texts themselves twist against the progressive niceties of Big Fiction. But their authors also deliver these acerbic critiques with a wink, keenly aware that even as they lambast identitarian literature, they’re partaking in it, and even as they denigrate the sellouts, they’re cashing their checks.

One might be tempted to charge Everett or Jefferson, Taylor or Kuang, with hypocrisy. One might even argue—like the author of Yellowface herself has —that race satires place “all the focus back onto white people.” But their works seem to furnish their own defense. After all, what other choice do these authors have? The logic of the market is without remorse. Every minority’s story becomes a Minority Story in the end.

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Find a home for your poems, stories, essays, and reviews by researching the publications vetted by our editorial staff and listed in the Literary Magazines database. Here you’ll find editorial policies, submission guidelines, and contact information—everything you need to determine which publications match your vision for your writing and your writing life. Use the filters below to find magazines with reading periods that are open now or opening soon (within the next thirty days), accept unsolicited submissions, and match all of your criteria for the perfect publisher of your work.

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By Claudine Gay

Dr. Gay is a former president of Harvard University, where she is a professor of government and of African and African American studies.

On Tuesday, I made the wrenching but necessary decision to resign as Harvard’s president. For weeks, both I and the institution to which I’ve devoted my professional life have been under attack. My character and intelligence have been impugned. My commitment to fighting antisemitism has been questioned. My inbox has been flooded with invective, including death threats. I’ve been called the N-word more times than I care to count.

My hope is that by stepping down I will deny demagogues the opportunity to further weaponize my presidency in their campaign to undermine the ideals animating Harvard since its founding: excellence, openness, independence, truth.

As I depart, I must offer a few words of warning. The campaign against me was about more than one university and one leader. This was merely a single skirmish in a broader war to unravel public faith in pillars of American society. Campaigns of this kind often start with attacks on education and expertise, because these are the tools that best equip communities to see through propaganda. But such campaigns don’t end there. Trusted institutions of all types — from public health agencies to news organizations — will continue to fall victim to coordinated attempts to undermine their legitimacy and ruin their leaders’ credibility. For the opportunists driving cynicism about our institutions, no single victory or toppled leader exhausts their zeal.

Yes, I made mistakes. In my initial response to the atrocities of Oct. 7, I should have stated more forcefully what all people of good conscience know: Hamas is a terrorist organization that seeks to eradicate the Jewish state. And at a congressional hearing last month, I fell into a well-laid trap. I neglected to clearly articulate that calls for the genocide of Jewish people are abhorrent and unacceptable and that I would use every tool at my disposal to protect students from that kind of hate.

Most recently, the attacks have focused on my scholarship. My critics found instances in my academic writings where some material duplicated other scholars’ language, without proper attribution. I believe all scholars deserve full and appropriate credit for their work. When I learned of these errors, I promptly requested corrections from the journals in which the flagged articles were published, consistent with how I have seen similar faculty cases handled at Harvard.

I have never misrepresented my research findings, nor have I ever claimed credit for the research of others. Moreover, the citation errors should not obscure a fundamental truth: I proudly stand by my work and its impact on the field.

Despite the obsessive scrutiny of my peer-reviewed writings, few have commented on the substance of my scholarship, which focuses on the significance of minority office holding in American politics. My research marshaled concrete evidence to show that when historically marginalized communities gain a meaningful voice in the halls of power, it signals an open door where before many saw only barriers. And that, in turn, strengthens our democracy.

Throughout this work, I asked questions that had not been asked, used then-cutting-edge quantitative research methods and established a new understanding of representation in American politics. This work was published in the nation’s top political science journals and spawned important research by other scholars.

Never did I imagine needing to defend decades-old and broadly respected research, but the past several weeks have laid waste to truth. Those who had relentlessly campaigned to oust me since the fall often trafficked in lies and ad hominem insults, not reasoned argument. They recycled tired racial stereotypes about Black talent and temperament. They pushed a false narrative of indifference and incompetence.

It is not lost on me that I make an ideal canvas for projecting every anxiety about the generational and demographic changes unfolding on American campuses: a Black woman selected to lead a storied institution. Someone who views diversity as a source of institutional strength and dynamism. Someone who has advocated a modern curriculum that spans from the frontier of quantum science to the long-neglected history of Asian Americans. Someone who believes that a daughter of Haitian immigrants has something to offer to the nation’s oldest university.

I still believe that. As I return to teaching and scholarship, I will continue to champion access and opportunity, and I will bring to my work the virtue I discussed in the speech I delivered at my presidential inauguration: courage. Because it is courage that has buoyed me throughout my career and it is courage that is needed to stand up to those who seek to undermine what makes universities unique in American life.

Having now seen how quickly the truth can become a casualty amid controversy, I’d urge a broader caution: At tense moments, every one of us must be more skeptical than ever of the loudest and most extreme voices in our culture, however well organized or well connected they might be. Too often they are pursuing self-serving agendas that should be met with more questions and less credulity.

College campuses in our country must remain places where students can learn, share and grow together, not spaces where proxy battles and political grandstanding take root. Universities must remain independent venues where courage and reason unite to advance truth, no matter what forces set against them.

Claudine Gay is a former president of Harvard University, where she is a professor of government and of African and African American studies.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

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Lisa Marie Presley’s posthumous memoir will be published in October

FILE - Lisa Marie Presley arrives at the premiere of "Mad Max: Fury Road" at the TCL Chinese Theatre, May 7, 2015, in Los Angeles. A memoir that Lisa Marie Presley had been working on at the time of her death will be published this fall. “Few people had the opportunity to know who my mom really was, other than being Elvis’s daughter," actor Riley Keough, the eldest of Presley's four children and who helped complete the book, said in a statement released Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024, by publisher Random House. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

FILE - Lisa Marie Presley arrives at the premiere of “Mad Max: Fury Road” at the TCL Chinese Theatre, May 7, 2015, in Los Angeles. A memoir that Lisa Marie Presley had been working on at the time of her death will be published this fall. “Few people had the opportunity to know who my mom really was, other than being Elvis’s daughter,” actor Riley Keough, the eldest of Presley’s four children and who helped complete the book, said in a statement released Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024, by publisher Random House. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

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NEW YORK (AP) — A memoir that Lisa Marie Presley had been working on at the time of her death will be published this fall. The book, currently untitled, was completed with the help of actor Riley Keough , the eldest of Presley’s four children.

“Few people had the opportunity to know who my mom really was, other than being Elvis’s daughter,” Keough said in a statement released Thursday by publisher Random House. “I was lucky to have had that opportunity and working on preparing her autobiography for publication has been a privilege, albeit a bittersweet one. I’m so excited to share my mom now, at her most vulnerable and most honest, and in doing so, I do hope that readers come to love my mom as much as I did.”

Her book is scheduled for release on Oct. 15. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of Elvis and Priscilla Presley and a recording artist in her own right, died almost exactly a year ago at age 54. A coroner’s investigation found that the singer-actor died of complications from bariatric surgery years earlier. Lisa Marie is now buried on the grounds of the Graceland family estate in Memphis, Tennessee, where she had been the day her father died in 1977.

This image released by Neon shows Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor in a scene from "Origin." (Atsushi Nishijima/Neon via AP)

According to Random House, Lisa Marie had wanted her daughter to assist on her memoir, but Keough had “pushed off the project, feeling that there would be a right time for them to sit down together and finish it.” After Presley’s death, Keough spent hours listening to tapes her mother had made in preparation for her life story.

“Riley knew that it was time for Lisa Marie’s voice to be heard,” Random House’s announcement reads in part.

“She listened as Lisa Marie told story after story about the unconditional love she felt from her father, about being upstairs at Graceland, just the two of them, a sanctuary from the chaos of her life. About Lisa Marie’s complicated relationship with her mother Priscilla. About growing up with the clicking cameras perpetually at the door. About her own wild love stories, and her marriages to Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage. About motherhood and the shattering loss of her son, Riley’s brother Benjamin Keough, to suicide.”

Random House is calling the book a “raw, riveting, one-of-a-kind memoir,” told mostly through Lisa Marie Presley, “with Riley filling in the blanks from her own memory and those closest to her mother.”

An audio edition will be read by Keough, along with some excerpts from Lisa Marie’s taped recollections.


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How High-Performing Teams Build Trust

  • Ron Friedman

publish literary essay

A survey of 1,000 workers identified five behaviors.

It’s no surprise that trust is at the core of high-performing teams. But conversations about cultivating trust at work often focus on the relationship between managers and employees. As important — if not more so — is establishing trust between teammates. To understand how the best teams build trust among themselves, researchers interviewed 1,000 U.S.-based office workers and identified five key behaviors that set these teams apart: 1) They don’t leave collaboration to chance; 2) They keep colleagues in the loop; 3) They share credit; 4) They believe disagreements make them better; and 5) They proactively address tension.

If you’re like most seasoned leaders, you’ve heard a lot in recent years about the value of trust.

  • RF Ron Friedman , PhD, is an award-winning psychologist and the founder of ignite80 , a learning and development company that teaches leaders science-based strategies for building high-performing teams. His books include The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace , and more recently,   Decoding Greatness: How the Best in the World Reverse Engineer Success . To receive an email when he posts a new article, click here .

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