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Best Literary Magazines For Creative Nonfiction Essay

Submissions

General Overview

Unlike many magazines, Creative Nonfiction draws heavily from unsolicited submissions. Our editors believe that providing a platform for emerging writers and helping them find readers is an essential role of literary magazines, and it’s been our privilege to work with many fine writers early in their careers. A typical issue of CNF contains at least one essay by a previously unpublished writer.

We’re open to all types of creative nonfiction, from immersion reportage to personal essay to memoir. Our editors tend to gravitate toward submissions structured around narratives, but we’re always happy to be pleasantly surprised by work that breaks outside this general mold. Above all, we’re most interested in writing that blends style with substance, and reaches beyond the personal to tell us something new about the world. We firmly believe that great writing can make any subject interesting to a general audience.

Creative Nonfiction typically accepts submissions via regular mail and online through Submittable. Please read specific calls for submissions carefully.

We try to respond to all submissions as soon as possible. If you submit by regular mail, you will receive an email from us (typically within a week of your manuscript’s arrival in our office), confirming we have received your manuscript. If you submit online, you will receive a confirmation email from Submittable.

We read year-round, but it is not uncommon for a decision to take up to 6 months; unfortunately, this is especially true of work we like. If you have not heard from us since the initial confirmation email, please assume your manuscript is still under consideration.

Please follow the links below for more information about: 



A Note About Fact-checking

Essays accepted for publication in Creative Nonfiction undergo a fairly rigorous fact-checking process. To the extent your essay draws on research and/or reportage (and ideally, it should, to some degree), CNF editors will ask you to send documentation of your sources and to help with the fact-checking process. We do not require that citations be submitted with essays, but you may find it helpful to keep a file of your essay that includes footnotes and/or a bibliography.



Current Submission Calls

HOME

For a special issue of Creative Nonfiction magazine, we’re seeking true stories about finding—or, perhaps, coming to terms with losing—your place in the world. Deadline: May 21, 2018Complete guidelines »

LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX!

For a special contest and issue of Creative Nonfiction magazine, we’re seeking true stories about doing it—whether you’re straight, gay, or other; alone, in a couple, or in a crowd; doing it for the first time or the last, or not doing it at all. Deadline: July 16, 2018Complete guidelines »

TRUE STORY

Submissions for our monthly mini-magazine should be between 5,000 and 10,000 words long, on any subject, in any style. Surprise us! The only rules are that all work submitted must be nonfiction and original to the author, and we will not consider previously published work.  Now ReadingComplete guidelines »

PITCH US A COLUMN

Have an idea for a literary timeline? An opinion on essential texts for readers and/or writers? An in-depth, working knowledge of a specific type of nonfiction? Pitch us your ideas; Creative Nonfiction is now accepting query letters for several sections of the magazine. Accepted Year-Round. Complete guidelines »

TINY TRUTH CONTESTS

TWITTER
Can you tell a true story in 140 characters (or fewer)? Think you could write one hundred CNF-worthy micro essays a day? Go for it. We dare you. There's no limit. Simply follow Creative Nonfiction on Twitter (@cnfonline) and tag your tiny truths with the trending topic #cnftweet. That's it. We re-tweet winners daily and republish ~20 winning tweets in every issue of Creative Nonfiction. Not sure what we're looking for? Check out this roundtable discussion about the art of micro-essaying with some of the more prolific #cnftweet-ers. 


Previous Submission Calls

THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN SCIENCE AND RELIGION

Closed: December 12, 2016
Issue now available.

DANGEROUS CREATIONS: REAL-LIFE FRANKENSTEIN STORIES

Closed: April 17, 2017
Look for this themed issue as our Spring 2018 release.

STARTING OVER

Closed: June 19, 2017
We are actively reading the submissions received and expect to be able to update submitters on the status of their work in fall 2017. Look for this themed issue as our Spring 2018 release.

EXPLORING THE BOUNDARIES

Closed: September 11, 2017
We are actively reading the submissions received and expect to be able to update submitters on the status of their work in spring 2018.

RISK

Closed: November 6, 2017
We are actively reading the submissions received and expect to be able to update submitters on the status of their work in summer 2018.

INTOXICATION

Closed: February 26, 2018

We are actively reading the submissions received and expect to be able to update submitters on the status of their work in fall 2018.

WRITING PITTSBURGH BOOK PRIZE

Closed: November 20, 2017
We are actively reading the submissions received and expect to be able to update submitters on the status of their work in summer 2018.


A Note About Reading Fees

Here at Creative Nonfiction, we are always reading, searching for excellent new work to showcase in our various publications. At any given time, we usually have several submission portals open (see above calls for submissions), many of which require writers to pay a reading fee to submit their work.

Why we charge reading fees.

  1. We publish between 70-100 writers every year, and we pay every single one of those writers; reading fees help offset that expense.
  2. We like to pay writers more when we can, so we often run essay contests (with prizes ranging from $1,000-$10,000 per winning piece); reading fees help us offset that expense.
  3. Online submission is incredibly convenient for writers, but in some cases, it can be too convenient. Charging a nominal fee helps eliminate spam submitters--and it helps offset the administrative expenses of processing submissions.

How to avoid paying the reading fees.

  1. For books and other non-contest submission categories, send a hard-copy submission through the mail. The only cost is in ink and postage.
  2. Participate in our ongoing micro-essay experiment on Twitter! We publish 22 "Tiny Truths" in every issue… and we pay these writers with copies of the magazine.
  3. Subscribe to Creative Nonfiction and/or True Story. 

How buying a subscription to CNF eliminate the cost of a reading fee.

We recently adopted a new policy: no active subscriber to CNF will ever have to pay a reading fee of any type. Ever. Subscribers can submit as many times, to as many calls for submissions as they like, as long as their subscription is current. This is our way of supporting the readers who are supporting us.

Ways to become a subscriber (or renew a lapsed subscription) to CNF.

  1. Submit your work. Many of our calls for submissions offer a submit-and-subscribe option—the price of which is about 25% less than the cost of the regular subscription.*
  2. Join our email list. Joining our list is another way to stay up-to-date for all of our current calls and news. Once you've signed up, you'll be offered a chance to subscribe for $10 less than the regular price.**
  3. Subscribe. You can always purchase a subscription at the regular price at any time from anywhere.

* Offer valid for U.S. subscribers only. We regret the limitation, but it’s incredibly expensive to send magazines overseas.
** Again, U.S. residents only.


FAQs

How much do you pay for a published essay?

For essays published in Creative Nonfiction magazine, we typically pay a $50 flat fee + $10/printed page, plus a copy of the magazine. For essays published in an In Fact Books anthology, we typically pay a flat fee between $100 and $150. 

My essay is over your word limit. Will you still consider it for publication?          

We’re very sorry, but we have to draw the line somewhere.

Do you always charge a reading fee?

No: you can always submit non-themed essays for consideration without a reading fee, if you send a hard copy via regular mail. Like many other magazines, we charge a $3 convenience fee to submit essays online through Submittable. In the case of contests, reading fees generally offset the costs associated with those issues, as well as (in most cases) the prize money; or, for a small additional cost, you can become a subscriber, which also helps keep the lights on at CNF.

Will you consider excerpts from longer pieces?

We are happy to read excerpts from longer pieces, though in our experience it rarely works to pull 4,500 words from a longer piece and call it an essay. Rather, we suggest you consider adapting part of your longer piece so that it can truly stand alone.

Does something posted on a blog count as previously published?

If your blog is shared with the public, we do consider its writing published. If you significantly re-write or expand a piece that is posted on your blog, though, we will be able to consider it for any of our calls for submissions.

Can I change the names or distinguishing characteristics of the people in my story to protect their privacy?

We typically prefer that you not do this, and would argue that, in most cases, there are better ways to approach this type of challenge. That said, in some cases—for example, if you’re a doctor writing about your work with patients—sometimes this may be appropriate. Regardless, we’re big fans of transparency, and greatly appreciate a note in the cover letter or perhaps even footnoted in the manuscript itself, if you’ve taken this type of liberty.

Will you give feedback on the essay I submitted?

Unfortunately, due to the high volume of submissions we receive (in the neighborhood of 100+ essays per month), we can’t send detailed feedback or responses. If you are interested in having a professional editor review your manuscript, we encourage you to check out CNF’s mentoring program and online courses.

Can I submit an essay I wrote in one of CNF’s online courses or in the mentoring program?

Sorry, no. But we do wish you the best of luck placing such work elsewhere, and hope you’ll keep in touch with your teacher or mentor and let us know about any successes!

What are CNF’s copyright requirements?

CNF typically considers only unpublished work and seeks first publication rights. After publication, CNF typically retains certain reprint rights, and some other rights revert to the author. We find that when people ask this question, they usually mean, “I’m submitting a chapter from a book I’m writing, and I need to have the rights to it.” Please know that we absolutely do not retain any rights that would interfere with your ability to publish your work in your own book. 

Can I make changes to my essay once I submit it online?

The work you submit for consideration should be the final proofread and edited version of your essay. We do understand that mistakes happen, however, so in the event that you submitted the wrong file, realized that your essay was a poem, or some other obvious oversight, we do allow editing of submitted essays within a limited set of parameters--usually within two weeks of the original submission date or up until a contest deadline. After the essay has been assigned to a reader, changing files can cause a lot of confusion and may result in our not giving your work our best attention.

I found a typo in my submission. What should I do?

While your essay should be carefully proofread, a small typo will not influence the overall evaluation of your submission. In the event that we accept your essay for publication, it will go through a careful editorial process, and you will have plenty of opportunities to review it carefully.

  • 2 Elizabeths

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry, Fiction

    Subgenres: Commercial Fiction, Feminist, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Historical, Humor, Literary Fiction, Love, Poetry, Prose Poetry

    We aim to publish a rich variety of short fiction and poetry, penned by both emerging and established writers. We tend to select work that reflects positivity and kindness, and while we publish several genres, we have a soft spot for both romance...

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  • 2River View

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry

    We prefer poems with these qualities: image, subtlety, and point of view; a surface of worldly exactitude, as well as a depth of semantic ambiguity; and a voice that negotiates with its body of predecessors. Before submitting,...

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  • 3Elements Literary Review

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

    3Elements Literary Review is a quarterly, online literary journal founded in Chicago in 2013, now based in Des Moines, IA. We publish fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, and photography. Each issue begins with the posting of three elements, and...

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  • 5x5 Literary Magazine

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

    5×5, which borrows its title from the concept of clear radio transmission, is an online literary magazine that aims to publish both established and emerging writers of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction that is of no more than 500 words in length....

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  • 32 Poems

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry

    At 32 Poems our bias is for inventive language complicated by music, form, and feeling. As a rule we publish shorter work that can fit on a single page (32 lines or less), but we sometimes make exceptions to accommodate particularly exciting...

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  • 34THPARALLEL INDIE LITMAG DIGITAL & PRINT

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

    Subgenres: Autobiography/Memoir, Experimental, Graphic/Illustrated, Literary Fiction, Love, Narrative Nonfiction, Pop Culture, Prose Poetry

    It's all about getting your story out there looking good. This mag’s fans can be your fans too!!
    Your nonfiction & fiction (as well as your straight-out journalism, essay, screenplay, greatest tweets etc), your poetry (...

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  • 50 Haikus

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry

  • 95Notes

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, Fiction

    95Notes is a platform designed to showcase quality creative writing and artwork. 95Notes is an independent literary magazine started by Chicago State University writers to represent creative writers within their literary community.
    All...

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  • 100 Word Story

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Fiction

    Subgenres: Autobiography/Memoir, Experimental, Prose Poetry, Narrative Nonfiction

    The whole is a part and the part is a whole. The 100-word format forces the writer to question each word, to reckon with Flaubert’s mot juste in a way that even most flash fiction doesn’t. At the same time the brevity of the form allows the...

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  • 580 Split

    Reading Period: Oct 15 to Dec 15

    Genre: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

    TRANSCENDENCE. Beyond. Beyond the physical. Beyond normal. Beyond what’s believed possible. Beyond even our conception of reality. This is the work of the Artist. Ever striving to see the world from outside the world to stretch the bounds of what...

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  • 805 Lit + Art

    Reading Period: Aug 1 to Apr 30

    Genre: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

    805 publishes debut and emerging writers, poets, photographers, and artists in our quarterly, online journal. Enjoy our issues for free. We seek writing and art that is unexpected, striking, and moving.

  • 1966

    Reading Period: Aug 1 to May 1

    Genre: Creative Nonfiction

    Subgenres: Autobiography/Memoir, Graphic/Illustrated, Nature/Environmental, Narrative Nonfiction

    1966 is a literary magazine that celebrates research-driven creative nonfiction — prose that turns information into story and facts into art. We are published with the support of Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas and its English Department...

  • The 3288 Review

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

    Subgenres: Autobiography/Memoir, Experimental, Feminist, LGBT, Historical, Humor, Formal, Nature/Environmental, Prose Poetry, Regional, Narrative Nonfiction, Literary Fiction, Journalism/Investigative Reporting, Translation

    The 3288 Review specifically focuses on writers and artists from (or associated with) West Michigan. This doesn’t mean we don’t accept submissions from the world at large; we consider submissions from anyone, and from anywhere.

  • A-Minor Magazine

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry, Fiction

    Subgenres: Cross-genre, Experimental, Flash Fiction, Prose Poetry, Literary Fiction

    Flash Fiction, Poetry, Mixed-Genre Works, Art/Text and Artwork. Tastes lean toward surreal, experimental, ambivalent, darkly lyrical and wildly imaginative. The magazine was a weekly publication from May 2010 to Feb 2013. Check out our archives...

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  • The A3 Review

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

    Subgenres: Autobiography/Memoir, Commercial Fiction, Cross-genre, Erotica, Experimental, Feminist, Flash Fiction, Graphic/Illustrated, Humor, LGBT, Literary Fiction, Love, Micro-poetry, Narrative Nonfiction, Nature/Environmental, Prose Poetry

    The A3 Review is a literary magazine that behaves like a map, made by the folks who make Writing Maps. Prose and poetry pieces are written with a 150-word limit in response to a themed monthly writing contest. Twelve winners are published in the...

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  • AADOREE

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

    Subgenres: Cross-genre, Experimental, Feminist, Flash Fiction, LGBT, Literary Fiction, Prose Poetry

    AADOREE (pronounced the same as “adore”) is a tiny online/print literary journal edited by JD Scott and Alia Tsang. AADOREE aims to publish those voices who are pushing boundaries of writing with an emphasis on interdisciplinary work, formal...

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  • aaduna

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

    Subgenres: Cross-genre

    To identify new and emerging writers and visual artists who have a particular focus on re-defining the landscape of their artform. Artists of color and those others who are traditionally underrepresented in the field are...

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  • Aberration Labyrinth

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry

    Subgenres: Autobiography/Memoir, Cross-genre, Feminist, Humor, Love, Micro-poetry, Political, Pop Culture

    This is a publication that plans to blur the lines of traditional poetry. Too many publications have a narrow definition of what poetry is or what it should be. We don't. In fact, we treasure poetry that strays from the path. We want raw,...

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  • Able Muse

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, Fiction

    Able Muse predominantly publishes metrical poetry complemented by art and photography, fiction and non-fiction including essays, book reviews and interviews with a focus on metrical and formal poetry. We also welcome exceptional free verse. We...

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  • About Place Journal

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

    About Place Journal is the literary publication of the Black Earth Institute. Black. BEI is dedicated to art serving the causes of spirit, earth and society. Issues are guest edited by fellows of the Institute. Themes (titles of issues)are chosen...

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  • Abramelin

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry

    We are a poetry journal, focusing on the highest quality literary poetry. Abramelin has been publishing since the summer of 2006. Many of the best small press writers have graced our pages. I have changed the format from one or two issues a year...

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  • The Acentos Review

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

    Subgenres: Autobiography/Memoir, Cross-genre, Experimental

    The Acentos Review publishes poetry, fiction, memoir, interviews, translations and artwork by emerging and established Latin@ writers four times a year. We welcome submissions in English, Spanish, Spanglish, Portuguese, and indigenous languages....

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  • Acorn: a Journal of Contemporary Haiku

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Mar 1

    Genre: Poetry

    Subgenres: Micro-poetry

    Acorn is a biannual journal dedicated to publishing the best of contemporary English-language haiku. In particular, it showcases the individual poem and the ability of haiku to reveal the extraordinary moments found in everyday life.

  • Adanna

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

    Subgenres: Feminist

    Adanna, a name of Nigerian origin, pronounced a-DAN-a, is defined as “her father’s daughter.” Women over the centuries have been defined by men in politics, through marriage, and most importantly, by the men who fathered them. Women are still...

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  • Adelaide Literary Magazine

    Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31

    Genre: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

    Subgenres: Translation

    We seek to publish outstanding literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and to promote the writers we publish, helping authors reach a wider literary audience.

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