How to Pitch Your Personal Essay to Literary Magazines


By Valerie Berrios Comment

Personal-Essay-Mrkt-Part-2-If you’re a writer eager to pitch your personal essay, check our latest Journalism Advice feature, which includes another 15 markets. See below for just one example. (And don’t forget to visit Part I in our Personal Essay Markets series.)

Literary magazines (see Hunger Mountain, The Threepenny Review, Tin House)
Are essays for literary magazines different from those for consumer mags? “It’s not that literary writing is ‘good’ and consumer magazine writing is ‘bad,'” said writer Alle C. Hall, a teacher at Richard Hugo House. “Consumer magazines are looking to get information to the reader, so the writing needs to be good, but it’s not everything. In a literary magazine, the writing is the whole point.”
Length: Typically 3,000-5,000 words, though a few take up to 10,000. There’s also a category called the short-short for pieces under 1,000 words, such as a Brevity.
Pay: A few literary magazines pay a flat fee for essays, such as The American Scholar ($500), but many pay in copies only. Most of the ones that do pay, such as
The Antioch Review and The Georgia Review, typically pay per printed page, and that can range from $1 a page to $50 a page.
Hall’s advice: “As everyone says, read the journals — but how, right? Follow two publications for a year, either online or through a subscription. If a writer can identify which publications make the most sense for his or her style and voice, the writer will spend far less energy on rejection.”

For more pitching advice, read: Personal Essay Markets, Part II.

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