Maybe this is something you all can help me with.

I am trying to get an essay published, and am looking for places to sell it. I am looking for:
- as wide a readership as possible,
- either print or web or both,
- if print or the website of a print magazine, then a paying market (i.e. they pay me).

The essay is:
- personal, with a political overtone, and
- pegged to the anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

So as not to be cryptic, it's an essay comparing my recovery from rape to New York City's recovery from the trauma of 9/11, and our fear of terrorism to the fear of the "every day terrorism" of sexual assault.

Don't freak out, it was a long time ago. I speak publicly about my recovery and have written about it for national media. I also write about sexual assault and related issues for teens. It's just never come up here. So there it is.

Here's what I've done so far. The essay is currently being read for the "Lives" column of The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek's "My Turn" (where I was published for the first time!) and Ms. The New York Times Op-Ed has already passed. I've also spoken to Salon, but what they want doesn't work for me. After that, I draw a blank. I've searched for sites, but haven't found a good fit.

If I can't find any takers, I'll post it here. But frankly, the essay is too good, and I've worked too hard on it, to not try to sell it somewhere else.

All ideas welcome. Don't be shy.


Niobium said...

How about Bitch and Bust? Great feminist rags, btw.

L-girl said...

Yes, they are! I like them both.

It's a pretty mainstream essay - that's my thing - working to educate the mainstream, as opposed to the already-converted. But it's worth a try. Thank you!

deang said...

Freelance journalist and journalism prof Bob Jensen is active in both antiwar and feminist issues, has published in a variety of outlets, and may be able to help with ideas. Contact him at rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu. His webpage is uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/home.htm. Would British outlets be too far out of the way of the US mainstream? What about the Guardian or the Independent? These days, a lot of US readers look at British papers online and their stories and essays are often picked up by Common Dreams, Counterpunch, Cursor, ZMag/ZNet, etc. What about Harper's?

L-girl said...

Thank you, Dean.

The problem is I think it's too straightforwardly (wd?) personal for Harper's or CounterPunch, etc. I don't see anything like this in Harper's. It's not analysis. It's more along the "Lives" or Op-Ed line.

I hadn't thought of the Guardian/ Observer. They might have a section that this would fit into.

And that makes me think... I should probably contact more Op-Ed pages in general. I was thinking NYC only (since it's pegged to 9/11), but I'll widen the circle.

If you think it's a good idea to contact Bob Jensen, I'll try it. Thanks so much for the contact info.

James said...

Have you looked at any Canadian publications? I can't really help you much there, as I don't really read magazines, but I'm sure there are a few up here that could work.

L-girl said...

Looking at their writer's guidelines, I remember why I didn't submit the essay to Bitch:

"We're looking for anything that can be described as "feminist response to pop culture." Our definition of pop culture is broad, encompassing cultural attitudes and myths, phenomena of the popular imagination, and social trends as well as movies, tv, magazines, books, advertising, and the like.

Profiles of and interviews with feminist culture-makers and business owners are welcome, as are book and music reviews and nuanced analyses of particularly horrifying and/or inspiring examples of pop culture. . . . We are not looking for personal essays unless personal narrative is tied strongly to the pop culture topic at hand." [emphasis mine]

That's what I generally find. There are very few places to publish straightforward personal essays.

However, I might try them anyway, because what the hell, it's only an email.

L-girl said...

Have you looked at any Canadian publications?

I'm looking everywhere. It would be my first Canadian publication! I'd be very proud of that.

L-girl said...

Hey, thanks to James's suggestion, I found out Macleans has a personal essay column called "Over To You". One more place to send. Thanks!

James said...

If the New York Times is willing to publish a personal essay about what a naughty sexpot blogger your nanny is, I don't see why they wouldn't take yours... Except maybe that your point is substantial and thought-provoking, rather than just whiney.

L-girl said...

It's a little more complicated than that. I had a good email exchange with David Shipley, editor of the Op-Ed page. Lots of things don't get published in lots of places - that's just how it goes.

I'm not sure what piece you're referring to about the nanny blogger? I think the Times generally runs good Op-Eds, substantial pieces, though of course not always.

Niobium said...

Aljazeera might be an option, as would Mother Jones. Also, how about Common Dreams and Women's eNews?

L-girl said...

Niobium, thank you for putting your mind to this! I appreciate your thoughts.

I hope I don't sound overly negative...

Al Jazeera? I don't get it. Why would they run it?

Mother Jones - I don't believe they run personal essays, but I will definitely double-check.

Women's eNews - Same. I think they run only news articles and features. I'll check.

Common Dreams - My last resort. I'm pretty sure they'll take it, as they've run a couple of my pieces, but I want to try for a paid market first.

There are tons of venues out there, but the trick is to see what kind of work they publish, and see if your piece fits into that at all.

Bitch, for example, is a terrific magazine, but I've never seen a mainstream personal essay in it. It's not them.

Thank you very much for looking! I'm going to go check Mother Jones right now.

Niobium said...

Al Jezeera, why wouldn't they?

L-girl said...

They're a news outlet. This isn't a news story. It's a personal essay.

Marnie said...

Utne, maybe?

And you know I'm a big fan of the Walrus, but I'm not sure it's their kind of thing. Could well be, actually.

(Pretend I did some clever linking things up there to save you some steps. Sorry.)

L-girl said...

Utne's worth a try.

You know, I've thought of most of these places, but ruled them out. Now I think I'll just blitz them all and see what happens. WTH.

I'll check out your Walrus.

Pretend thanks for the pretend link. ;-)

L-girl said...

I just took a good look at The Walrus, Utne, Mother Jones and a few others. Nope. No space for personal essay.

The Walrus looks excellent. (Thanks, Marnie.) I got the same impression I did the first time Marnie mentioned it - kind of a Canadian Harper's. Which is a big compliment.

Damn. Not a lot of places to try. But I did find one new venue, this "Over To You" column in Maclean's.


James said...

"I'm not sure what piece you're referring to about the nanny blogger?"

You missed that one? I can't do it justice here, but you can find it at

Search for "Helaine Olen" for more details.

L-girl said...

I did a few searches for her name. I do recall seeing the piece, but thought it looked too stupid to read.

Good to see the blogosphere put Olen in her place.

I used to be a nanny, too.

L-girl said...

If the New York Times is willing to publish a personal essay about what a naughty sexpot blogger your nanny is, I don't see why they wouldn't take yours...

Now I see what you mean. :-)

Alas, Olen is a Times staff writer. She writes for the Styles section, where that stupid piece was published.

Crabbi said...

Tiny Lights is also good. They're only accpeting submissions via their annual essay contest, but wouldn;t it be cool to win, in addition to being published?

Here are some other ideas.

Threepenny Review

The Atlantic

Skirt Magazine

L-girl said...

Thanks, Crabbi!

L-girl said...

Crabletta, great find! Skirt magazine publishes essays! Yay!

I have heard of Skirt, but forgot all about it. After a few larger venues reject the essay, I will definitely submit it there. Thanks loads.

And thanks to all of you, really. It's not easy to define what venues are right for what stories, and I appreciate your brain power and your encouragement.

David Cho said...

I hope you make My Turn. I submitted mine (moral selectivity), but I don't think mine was personal enough. Sounds like the way you describe it will fit in perfectly. Some of what they publish are quite impressive, and some .. well, I could have done better.

L-girl said...

My first publication ever was a My Turn. It was on the 10th-year anniversary of the assault. I wrote about having reached that milestone and now "coming out" as a rape survivor.

It was weird - the first thing I ever had published, it was national, it paid well (not the usual first publication!) - and all these people I worked with and knew casually learned this personal thing about me, which I didn't talk about at the time. A strange experience.

That essay remains the best thing I ever wrote - which is really getting annoying!

David, I hope you'll try to place the moral selectivity essay elsewhere. It's very good. If you can insert yourself into it more, find a personal angle, it will be even better.

David Cho said...

Thank you, L-Girl. I am thinking about submitting it to Christianity Today. Even though it enjoys wide circulation among Evangelical Christian, it is actually a very thoughtful and critical mag. You will not see blanket endorsements of the Christian Right.

Is there a way to see your My Turn essay? It's great that it got published.