Calls for Submission

True Story

We are actively reading the submissions received and will update submitters on the status of their work as soon as we can.

Each issue of True Story features one exceptional work of creative nonfiction, distributed in print and digitally (and available online to subscribers and behind a limited paywall).

Guidelines: Essays must be previously unpublished. Multiple submissions are welcome, as are entries from outside the United States. You may submit essays online only, via Submittable. Submissions should be between 5,000 and 10,000 words long, on any subject, in any style. Surprise us! The only hard and fast rules are that all work submitted must be nonfiction and original to the author, and we will not consider previously published work. That said, many of the stories we’ve featured in True Story share some common elements:

  • A strong narrative component or source of tension that keeps readers in suspense;
  • A significant informational component;
  • A personal (or at least writerly) connection or window into the information element;
  • Significant movement across distance or time or both;
  • And some sort of bigger question.

We’ll pay $750 on publication and give you 10 free copies of “your” issue. We’ll do our best to respond to submissions within four months. We can’t promise to consider work submitted for True Story for any of CNF’s other projects or publications—but we reserve the right to do so.

There is a $3 reading fee, waived for current True Story and/or Creative Nonfiction subscribers.


Looking for some insight before you submit? We encourage you to check out this recent webinar with CNF’s managing editor on writing longform. 

Not familiar with True Story? Check out some of our favorite issues.

79 | Brian Broom
The 79 bus loops around the housing projects in the East Hills of Pittsburgh all day—“like a noose,” as reluctant resident Brian Broome puts it. This might be one of Pittsburgh’s least tourist-friendly neighborhoods, and Broome an extremely uncomfortable tour guide … but the trip is well worth taking.

This Is My Oldest Story | Emily Brisse
Emily Brisse was just eight years old when eleven-year-old Jacob Wetterling was abducted from their small Minnesota town. Haunted by the long-unsolved mystery of the boy’s disappearance, Emily tries to make sense of a terrible story that isn’t really hers to tell—but that also shaped her entire life.

Where Am I? | Heather Sellers
She gets lost on a straight line—that’s what Heather Sellers’s father said about her, and it wasn’t an unfair description. But a chance encounter with a stranger in an airport proves to be a turning point.