Guest Post

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Essay Markets –Get Paid for Your Words!

cj Sez:  Author Joan Leotta visits Lyrical Pens today, blogging about how essays have the potential to add to a writer’s credentials and income.

Captured from Facebook

Joan says:     If you write short stories, you know the drill: Begin with a bang, fill in the details and swoop the reader up with a good ending so they will not forget your tale. Well, if you know all of that, but you want to make money, think about writing essays. Non-fiction in general pays more than fiction (unless you are a best-selling novelist) essays are like short stories except they not only use snippets of real life, they are fully based on a real event or personal memory. If you view sticking to the truth as a strait jacket, then stop reading. If you view that as a creative challenge, keep write (pun intended) on and warm up the deposit slips.

The personal essay is very much alive—in regional and national magazines and anthology collections. A local women’s magazine has paid me about $100 for three different essays and the larger, regional women’s interest magazine paid me $200 for a memory of a trip to Dallas with my mother. Chicken Soup for the Soul paid me $200 for my story of how I said good-by to my grandmother for the last time.

Often these essays are family stories that I have been telling my children for a long time.  For about half of the essays I’ve sold, I wrote the essay, polished it and then found a market. For the other half, I’ve written on themes in an editorial calendar, a publication’s list of upcoming subject focus.  If a publication does not have a theme list, let the seasons be your guide—flowers in spring, mothers in May, fathers in June—you get the idea! When mining personal memories remember that if they are sad, you will need to provide some positive element—how you overcame the pain and are now a successful person—something like that. People like positive.

Editors are people. Also remember, these magazines (and anthology in the case of Chicken Soup) will expect your work to be presented according to their guidelines and on time. No fudging deadlines.

The following website . . . . . . is a good place to start looking for places to send your work. They list many markets for essays—most pay. The website also has tips on crafting essays.

So, get out the family album to rev up your memory engines and start writing!

Joan Leotta is a writer and story performer who loves playing with words in many genres—journalism, poetry, essays, stories, and books. Joan is available to speak to groups on writing both fiction and non-fiction. Check out her book of short stories, inspired by objects—Simply a Smile. The book is available in kindle format and as a paperback.     

Simply a Smile includes a collection of short stories which contain Historical Fiction, Romance, Mystery, and tales of Family. Each was inspired by a piece of art or an object as simple as a shell, a recipe, a button, and a historical marker. These stories are meant for simple reading pleasure and to leave you, the reader, with a smile as the book closes. 

cj Sez:  Best wishes, Joan, for great sales of Simply a Smile. It sounds like an enjoyable read. And thanks for sharing some great tips. I think I’ll hit the library shelves to read a few magazines for ideas then buy an issue or two when I’m grocery shopping.  Little caveat to writers on the seasonal suggestion: There’s usually a long lead-time on seasonal/holiday stories that can range from six months to a year, so it’s a good idea to double-check with the publication editor for the submission dates. 

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to the same.
Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo


  1. Thank you for the link. I've sold several essays and really enjoy writing them.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Vicki. Best wishes for continued success on your essays.

  2. Thank you for the opportunity to post!

    1. Thanks, Joan. Your tips give me incentive to get busy.


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