Frequently Asked Questions

Questions? Start Here.

  • What is the maximum (or minimum) word count?

    Word count requirements vary for each call for submissions, so please view the category’s specific guidelines for the most accurate information. Broadly speaking, the maximum word count for Creative Nonfiction is 4,000 words (CNF does not have a minimum word count requirement, but the magazine rarely publishes pieces that are fewer than 600 words); True Story submissions should be between 5,000 and 10,000 words; Sunday Short Reads submissions should be fewer than 1,000 words.

  • How much do you pay for a published essay?

    For essays published in Creative Nonfiction magazine, we typically pay a $125 flat fee + $10/printed page, plus a copy of the magazine. For essays published in an In Fact Books anthology, we typically pay a flat fee between $100 and $150.

  • My essay is over your word limit. Will you still consider it for publication?

    We’re very sorry, but we have to draw the line somewhere.

  • Do you always charge a reading fee?

    Like many other magazines, we charge a $3 convenience fee to submit essays online through Submittable. In the case of contests, reading fees generally offset the costs associated with those issues, as well as (in most cases) the prize money; or, for a small additional cost, you can become a subscriber, which also helps keep the lights on at CNF. Our subscribers never pay a reading fee!

  • Will you consider excerpts from longer pieces?

    We are happy to read excerpts from longer pieces, though in our experience it rarely works to pull 4,000 words from a longer piece and call it an essay. Rather, we suggest you consider adapting part of your longer piece so that it can truly stand alone.

  • Does something posted on a blog count as previously published?

    If your blog is shared with the public, we do consider those writings to have been published. If you significantly re-write or expand a piece that is posted on your blog, though, we will happily consider it for any of our calls for submissions.

  • Can I change the names or distinguishing characteristics of the people in my story to protect their privacy?

    We generally prefer that you not do this, and would argue that, in most cases, there are better ways to approach this type of challenge. That said, in some cases—for example, if you’re a doctor writing about your work with patients—sometimes masking identities may be appropriate. Regardless, we’re big fans of transparency, and if you’ve taken this type of liberty, we greatly appreciate a note in the cover letter or a footnote in the manuscript itself.

  • Will you give feedback on the essay I submitted?

    Unfortunately, due to the high volume of submissions we receive (in the neighborhood of 100+ essays per month), we can’t send detailed feedback or responses. If you are interested in having a professional editor review your manuscript, we encourage you to check out CNF’s online courses.

  • Can I submit an essay I wrote in one of CNF’s online courses?

    No, you may not. But we wish you the best of luck placing such work elsewhere, and hope you’ll keep in touch with your teacher or writing coach and share your successes!

  • What are CNF’s copyright requirements?

    CNF typically considers only unpublished work and seeks first publication rights. After publication, CNF typically retains certain reprint rights, and some other rights revert to the author. We find that when people ask this question, they usually mean, “I’m submitting a chapter from a book I’m writing, and I need to have the rights to it.” Please know that we absolutely do not retain any rights that would interfere with your ability to publish your work in your own book.

  • Can I make changes to my essay after I submit it?

    The work you submit for consideration should be the best possible version of your essay. We understand that mistakes happen, however, so in the event that you submitted the wrong file, we do allow editing of submitted essays within a limited set of parameters–usually within two weeks of the original submission date or up until a contest deadline. After the essay has been assigned to a reader, changing files can cause a lot of confusion and may result in our not giving your work our best attention.

  • I found a typo in my submission. What should I do?

    While we advise you to proofread your work carefully before submitting, rest assured that a small typo will not influence the overall evaluation of your submission. In the event that we accept your essay for publication, it will go through a careful editorial process, and you will have plenty of opportunities to review it carefully.

  • Do you accept simultaneous submissions?

    Absolutely. We understand that response times are long, and writers want to increase their chances. We ask only that you be sure to withdraw your submission in the event that it’s accepted elsewhere.

What’s the Story from Lee Gutkind, Founder

Read on to hear from Lee about current happenings with Creative Nonfiction.