12 Great Publishers of Literary Non-Fiction

Written by Emily Harstone | October 24, 2016

Literary nonfiction is an interesting genre. It can involve anything from a research based essay to a short personal story, to a combination of the two. Literary nonfiction can even have a fictional element, for the sake of the story of course.

If you are writing a nonfiction book manuscript, particularly one that is a memoir or has personal elements to it, publishing part of the manuscript in a literary journal can help you get an agent or a publisher. I know of several memoir writers who had agents approach them after part of their work was published in a literary journal.

Below is a list of 12 respected publishers of short literary non-fiction. Most publish largely personal essays, but some publish a range of non fiction. Publication by any of these journals would help your writing career, so it goes without saying that all of these journals have a high rejection rate.

The list is in no particular order and not all of the literary journals are currently open to submissions.

Guernica

Guernica is a thoughtful magazine. They like thoughtful ideas—from everyone and everywhere—so they publish fiction, nonfiction, poetry, interviews, and art from around the world. Their authors come from dozens of countries and write in as many languages. Full editions of Guernica are published online twice a month, and additionally, smaller issues called Guernica Daily are published five days a week. A great example of the kind of personal non fiction they publish can be seen here. You can visit their main page here.

The Baltimore Review

They publish fiction, poetry, and creative non fiction online. They are a highly respected publication. Their creative non fiction is personal and compelling. Also you can get a good feeling for what they publish by reading it online for free. You can visit their website here.

The Missouri Review

The Missouri Review is a literary journal that has been around for over 30 years and they publish four quality print issues a year. Digital editions are now also available. They publish short stories, poetry, and non-fiction. Work that first appeared in The Missouri Review has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, Best American Travel Writing, Best American Poetry, The O. Henry Prize Anthology, and The Pushcart Prize. The Missouri Review is based out of the University of Missouri. They have published some of my favorite personal essays.

They pay their authors $40 per printed page. They charge to submit online, but it is free to submit to them via the post. You can visit their website here.

The Mid-American Review

The Mid-American Review publishes both new and established writers who author moving, wonder-inspiring work made with meticulous craft. They publish all styles of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from traditional to experimental, and prefer work that employs language as an artistic medium, painting layers of meaning that broaden beyond the author’s own mind. You can visit their website here.

The Sun

This independent ad free monthly has published many of the best known personal essay writers of the age. They have also published great personal essays by unknown authors. They recently started accepting online submissions as well as postal ones. Also they pay well! To learn more visit their website here.

Michigan Quarterly Review

Michigan Quarterly Review is an interdisciplinary journal publishing poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as critical essays addressing social, cultural, political, and literary topics. Eclectic, thought provoking, and refined, Michigan Quarterly Review aims to spark the intellect of its bright-minded readers.

They publish work by contemporary cornerstones—Joyce Carol Oats, John Updike, Margaret Atwood, Carol Gilligan, Toni Morrison, and more—as well as dynamic younger authors like Sharon Pomerantz, Keith Haworth, Michael Byers, and Benjamin Busch. You can visit their website here.

Granta

Updated to add that they have recently started charging 4 dollars for all prose submissions. They say this is only an experiment, but we are not holding our breath.

This highly respected journal publishes wonderful fiction and more pertinent to this review – wonderful non fiction based on personal experiences. To learn more visit their website here.

The Gettysburg Review

This respected publisher of many established and emerging writers publishes some wonderful personal non fiction essays. They charge for electronic submissions, but not for postal ones, so submit via the mail. You can visit their website here.

Tinhouse

Over the past five years Tin House has become the literary journal that every emerging and established writer wants to be published in. It has a wide subscriber base, famous editors, and great distribution. Not to mention Tin House’s reputation as the journal with its hands on the creative pulse.

Tin House is a beautifully bound print journal. It is published four times a year and several of those issues are themed. It publishes excellent personal non fiction along with poetry and fiction. To learn more visit their website here.

Narrative

This wonderful literary journal is known for publishing excellent excerpts of memoirs, often before the memoirs are acquired by publishers. They also publish poetry and non fiction. It is easy to get a feel for what they publish by reviewing it for free online. Learn more here.

The Iowa Review

This highly respected literary journal charges for electronic submissions, but submitting via post is still fee free. Since they have published some of the most notable creative non fiction in the last decade they are well worth submitting to. To learn more you can visit their website here.

The Nashville Review

They only publish a limited amount of non fiction each month, but what they do publish is generally excellent, creative, and a mix of personal and not. It is easy to get a sense for what they publish by reading it for free on their website. To learn more you can visit their website here.