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.

  • 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!

  • Why do you charge reading fees?

    1. We publish between 70-100 writers every year, and we pay every single one of those writers; reading fees help offset that expense.
    2. We like to pay writers more when we can, so we often run essay contests (with prizes ranging from $1,000-$10,000 per winning piece); reading fees help us offset that expense.
    3. Submitting work online is incredibly convenient for writers, but in some cases, it can be too convenient. Charging a nominal fee helps eliminate spam submitters–and it helps offset the administrative expenses of processing submissions.
  • How can I avoid paying the reading fee?

    1. Participate in our ongoing micro-essay experiment on Twitter! We publish up to 22 “Tiny Truths” in every issue … and we pay these writers with copies of the magazine.
    2. Become a subscriber.
  • How does becoming a subscription eliminate the cost of a reading fee?

    No active subscriber will ever have to pay a reading fee of any type. Ever.

    Subscribers can submit as many times, to as many calls for submissions as they like, as long as their subscription is current. This is our way of supporting the readers who are supporting us.

  • How can I become a subscriber (or renew a lapsed subscription)?

    1. Submit your work. Many of our calls for submissions offer a submit-and-subscribe option—the price of which is about 25% less than the cost of the regular subscription.*
    2. Join our email list. Joining our list is another way to stay up-to-date for all of our current calls and news. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be offered a chance to subscribe for $10 less than the regular price.**
    3. Subscribe. You can always purchase a subscription at the regular price at any time from anywhere.
What’s the Story from Lee Gutkind, Founder

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