submitting stories to magazine. Help!
May 1, 2009 1:45 PM   Subscribe

How do I go about finding magazines to which I can send a (non-fiction memoir) piece? Sources or specific magazine titles would be appreciated, as well as anything I may not know about magazine publishing.

I'm trying to help a friend publish a short piece he wrote. I know nothing about the publishing world, so forgive my neophyte confusion.

I'm not too worried about the actual presentation of it; I feel like I can fake enough knowledge to contact editors, write a cover letter, etc. However, I don't know how to start the process. How can I discover magazines that might be interested in paying to publish this story?

Any help is appreciated.

Further info:

*I'd prefer print magazines, but would consider online (my friend is in his 80's, and is adverse to anything digital, but it isn't a deal breaker).
*The piece is a non-fiction memoir piece about life on a farm
*The piece is appropriate for a children's, farm, Americana, or general interest magazine.
*The payment doesn't have to be significant, but I want him to get something for it.

Thank you!
posted by bluestocking to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Reminisce Magazine sounds right up his alley.
posted by amyms at 1:56 PM on May 1, 2009

You can also go to the library and check out the latest edition they have of the Writer's Market. It has a section listing magazines and their submission requirements.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 1:58 PM on May 1, 2009

All magazines have Writer's Guidelines, which you will want to check out before you send out a finished manuscript. Some magazines will not even read a finished piece, due to legal reasons; they will look at pitches only (a pitch would be something like "I'd like to write a first-person memoir about my life on the farm" -- except your pitch would have more details about what makes the story unique and a good fit for the magazine you're pitching to).

As for finding the right magazine, I'd go to the nearest Barnes & Noble or Borders and browse their racks for titles that would be a good fit. Write down the names of likely publications and, back at home, see if you can find their writers' guidelines online.
posted by chowflap at 1:59 PM on May 1, 2009

Seconding the Writer's Market. Along with submission requirements, it tells you the "tone" of the magazine and what they're looking for. A lot of magazines like the writer to read a few copies so he/she can get an idea of whether or not his/her piece will "fit" with the rest of the magazine. The Writer's Market also lists how much the magazine pays for submissions.
posted by cooker girl at 6:01 PM on May 1, 2009

I'm sure I've seen pieces like that in Sun Magazine. Here are their submission guidelines.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:15 PM on May 1, 2009

I agree that the Writer's Market is a good place to start. I just Googled "magazines publishing creative nonfiction" and found this site with a rather extensive list of lit mags (some print and some online). It lists the genres that each magazine publishes, so you can just search the page for "nonfiction," or "prose."

As others have said, you'll generally want to review a magazine's submission guidelines before you submit. While the Writer's Market often has these guidelines, it's best to look at a magazine's website for the most up-to-date guidelines (I edit poetry for a small journal and although we stopped accepting paper submissions over a year ago, we still get lots from people that read outdated editions of the Writer's Market.)

As far as querying an editor or including a cover letter with the piece itself, just try to get to the point. Give the information that the submission guidelines ask for (if any). If your friend has published anything anywhere else, mention that.

Lastly, don't get discouraged. A big part of sending out work to magazines is getting rejections. Another big part is waiting. A lot of magazines generally take several months to reply, and others may suspend their reading periods over the summer, so check on that too.

I hope this is helpful.
posted by 6and12 at 5:15 AM on May 2, 2009

I'm sure I've seen pieces like that in Sun Magazine. Here are their submission guidelines.

This is a good suggestion.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:04 AM on May 2, 2009

Make sure you go through back issues of whatever magazine you're pitching to ensure they haven't recently run a piece like the one you're proposing and to be certain that the tone/theme/editorial content is in line with your (friend's) piece. Editors hate receiving pitches from people who have clearly never read the magazine. You should have a high level of familiarity with the magazine.

I'd suggest pitching AARP The Magazine given the age of your friend. They (I believe) have non-fiction memoir-y selections from their readers/members every month. You can also try Zoomer magazine which is the Canadian counterpart to AARP. Zoomer probably gives preference to Canadian writers, but it's worth a shot.

As for where to direct your queries and pitches, call the switchboard and find out the name and title of the editor who handles queries. Keep in mind that production of a particular issue usually begins about 6 months prior to the issue's release, so if the piece your pitching is time sensitive (will it be relevant in 6 months?) you may have trouble getting it published.

If you're interested in seeing some examples of query letters/pitches, mail me and I'll send you some.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 2:29 PM on May 2, 2009

Subject matter is only part of submission. What about voice, length, etc?

Essays are everywhere, from Newsweek and the Christian Science Monitor (online now) to newspapers and magazines all over to your local weeklies. For ideas, peek into a Writers Market (put out by Writers Digest Magazine folks) for this year -- I think it's about $25 for the print version at Borders (more for the printed book plus online access). Look at the markets on and Hope Clark's (they have weekly free e-newsletters with markets).

If you have specific magazines in mind, google "[mag title] writers guidelines" (or "writing guidelines" or "submissions").
posted by mdiskin at 3:47 PM on May 2, 2009

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