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Creative nonfiction is fast becoming one of the most popular literary genres. But it’s important to find the right publisher(s) for your creative nonfiction (aka narrative nonfiction). Start by following these three easy steps!
Step One: Determine Your Subgenre Of Short Nonfiction Prose
Is your work a witty commentary? An op-ed with a political bent? A true story about your family life as a child? A work of academic exploration that straddles the line between narrative nonfiction and a scholarly tract? Or is it something entirely different? The tone, style, and topic of your nonfiction writing will determine your submission strategy. Learn how to identify the niche market that best fits your creative nonfiction piece.
Step Two: Know Your Options For Publishing Creative Nonfiction
There are many different literary markets to look into if you’re writing creative nonfiction. Here are a few:
Commercial magazines. These are the magazines you find next to the checkout at the supermarket, and they often print short works of creative nonfiction. Most of the time, the nonfiction personal essays that are published by commercial magazines are accessible (easy-to-read), short, and inspirational. The focus is often on emotional lessons that the writer has learned. To submit a personal essay to a commercial magazine, first review the submission guidelines. If you can’t find any guidelines, send the editor a query letter that includes a short write-up about your piece, as well as your author bio.
News websites. Many websites that focus on news and current events will also publish short op-ed pieces or essays (examples: Salon or Slate). If your writing is smart, incisive, and vibrant, and your story taps into contemporary insecurities or explores today’s complex conundrums, you might be able to earn a great online publication credit for your nonfiction.
Blogs associated with major newspapers. Many traditional newspapers curate popular online blogs (like the Wall Street Journal’s arts blog, Speakeasy). If your creative nonfiction piece feels contemporary and casual (and if it’s short), consider submitting it to a blog for publication. Here are 17 reasons not to underestimate the power of having online publishing credits.
Literary journals. We love literary journals for their dedication to publishing thoughtful, emotional nonfiction that other magazines tend to eschew due to word count or content limitations. Some literary journals (like Fourth Genre or Creative Nonfiction) specialize in true stories that have an emotional, literary bent. If your creative nonfiction is too “quiet,” too “difficult,” or just plain too long for commercial magazines, try submitting your work to literary journals.
Writing contests. Literary journals often host writing contests for creative nonfiction. But so do editors associated with writing conferences and other writing organizations. If your writing has literary overtones, consider submitting your narrative nonfiction to a writing contest sponsored by a literary magazine or other writers’ group.
Calls for submissions from editors who want true stories. Many editors put out calls for submissions seeking work from writers in order to compile an anthology of narrative nonfiction essays on a given subject. For example, an editor might call for creative nonfiction personal essays about dealing with addiction or about fatherhood. The style of these nonfiction essays can range from casual to literary, depending on the editor’s tastes.
Step Three: Polish Your Creative Nonfiction Submission And Stick To Submission Guidelines
Finally, remember that even the best personal essay submission might fail to connect with an editor if it is not submitted properly. Follow the publishing industry submission etiquette for your genre. And if you need help identifying the precise markets that would be suitable for your creative nonfiction piece, learn more about how Writer’s Relief can help you publish your personal essays.
QUESTION: Can you add to our list? Where else can a writer publish creative nonfiction? Post your idea (or titles of markets) below!