Writing on Wednesday: 7 Major Markets for Personal Essays

Keep Calm Write Essay


I love the personal essay. It’s one of my favorite genres of writing. When I first started writing essays, I did it in order to get some published clips for my resume, something to show agents and editors when I was ready to try to get a book published. Now I have twelve published essays. But along the way, I fell in love with the essay for its own value.
Even as I am working on revisions to my novel, I continue to write essays. On Monday I finished one and sent it in to Writer’s Digest and started another one that I hope will be a good fit for an anthology a friend is putting together. The bottom line? They are just fun to write. Quick and satisfying. Like Ann Lamott said, (paraphrasing here) essays are like a one-night stand whereas the novel is like a long and difficult marriage.

March April WDHowever you feel about that, if you write essays—or if you think you might like to give it a try—here are 7 major markets for personal essays. I found these in an article by Susan Shapiro in the March/April 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest, “Cracking Major Markets With Personal Essays.” Click on the links below to learn more about each market. Good luck!

The New York Times Modern Love (1500-1700 words)

The New York Times Magazine Lives (800 words)

Psychology Today Two-Minute Memoir (here are some examples)


Cosmopolitan (query with idea first)

AARP The Magazine (query with idea first)
Salon.com Lifestyle section (accepts queries and completed articles)

Art of Personal EssayP.S. For a great anthology of essays, check out Phillip Lopate’s The Art of the Personal Essay.  Here’s a nice review.

Please share!

3 thoughts on “Writing on Wednesday: 7 Major Markets for Personal Essays”

  1. The Lopate book is indeed a great anthology of essays. But the vast majority of the essays in there would not likely appear in any of the seven “major markets” mentioned here. Part of the difference, for me, has to do with what we consider an “essay.” The stuff in Modern Love or Lives tends, in my view, to be personal stories, not essays (the more ruminative and/or exploratory and/or digressive stuff in Lopate, most of which is probably not “quick” to write) — though of course there are exceptions in which the lines are blurred. They’re all good — I don’t mean to make a judgment, and I’m glad for the major markets list. But they do tend to serve different purposes and satisfy different reading desires.

    1. Good observation, Kathryn. Maybe reading the essays in Lopate’s anthology can help those of us writing “contemporary” essays to be a bit more ruminative. Thanks so much for reading, and for your insightful comment.

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