30 Themed Calls for Submissions (Non-Fiction, Essays, Etc)

There are 30 non-fiction themes for the 14 magazines/websites listed here. While some give a date by which they want articles or queries on specific topics, several do not, so it is best to get work in early. The themes include: fantasy, soul food thanksgiving, American Indian citizenship, adapt and grow, historic scenic highways, climate change and theatre, humor, alchemy, and cure. Several outlets also accept work outside these themes. Many do not specify their pay though, so writers have to query/negotiate rates. Here they are, in no particular order.

Bitch Media: Fantasy (#87)
This is an independent feminist magazine. Their front of the book section has Dispatches, where they want underreported and fascinating stories from across the US, the globe, and the realms of fiction that introduce Bitch readers to stories and topics they might not have encountered before. Their features are deep dives into the intersection of feminism and culture. Everything is culture to Bitch, including pop culture, social-justice movements, and technology – they have investigative essays and cultural features. They also have shorter pieces on culture, including essays and interviews.

For the Fantasy theme, they have extensive guidelines, including “What’s the first fictional place you ever escaped to? For some of us, it was a bridge to Terabithia. For others, it was through a wardrobe and into a fantastical, frozen realm where children are tasked with saving the day. … But whatever the entry point we have all delved into a fantasy at some point in our lives.
But our everyday lives, too, are infused with fantasy, whether we’re daydreaming about someone we pass on the street or envisioning lives free of crushing capitalism, climate change, and political clown cars. In this issue, we bring together the imagined and the real to get at the heart of a single question: What purpose do fantasies serve in our lives? We are excavating the very concept of “fantasy”—how they develop, what we do with them, and how we decide who and where is worthy of being fantasized.
This is one issue that shouldn’t be taken literally … we’re interested in criticism, reporting, and analysis that take an unconventional approach to the above mentioned question and consider a few others. What would a world where people earn more while working less look like? What lessons can be gleaned from Afrofuturism, Indigenous futurism, and other genres that envision oppressed communities in worlds of their own making?”
Key words are Afrofuturism, Indigenous futurisms, science fiction, sex, clothing, pleasure, vacation, bondage, mystical, astrology, magic, lust, Hollywood, Instagram, novels, planets, wizardry, Hollywood, paintings, social media, beauty standards. Pay is generally $700-$1,000 for features, $350 for dispatches, and between $150-$700 for culture stories. They also accept illustrations ($200-600), and online pitches on a rolling basis. The deadline for this theme is 24 February 2020. Details here.

Midwest Living: Best of Midwest Travel 2020; Westside Market, Soul Food Thanksgiving, Cheesecake, Ice Luminaria
This is a bi-monthly lifestyle magazine from Meredith Corporation, and their articles focus on travel, food, home and garden. Article lengths are generally between 100 and 1,000 words. They define the Midwest as Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas (they also sometimes do stories in bordering states such as Kentucky and Arkansas). They include writer bylines on features, but most of their freelance opportunity lies in scouting and research. Most of their articles are researched up to a year from publication date, especially seasonal ones; annual issue planning occurs in the late summer and fall, but they accept story pitches throughout the year. According to their editorial calendar, the themes for the November/December 2020 issue are: Westside Market, Soul Food Thanksgiving, Cheesecake, and Ice Luminaria. They also have a special issue which goes on sale in March, ‘Best of Midwest Travel 2020’. Writers on a first scouting assignment for the magazine, or for a website writeup, can expect to be paid up to $150. Details here and here.

Tribal College Journal: American Indian Citizenship
This is the journal of American Indian higher education. For their Fall 2020 issue, the topic is ‘American Indian Citizenship’. All feature articles must involve tribal colleges in some way. Possible feature article topics are listed, but alternative topics on each theme are welcome. For this theme their guidelines say, “Tribal colleges and American Indians are deeply affected by education policy and political currents in Washington, DC.  How can tribal college leaders and students influence national conversations on policymaking that impact TCUs and Native communities? What have been some of the tribal college movement’s past successes and how can we build on those in today’s polarized political climate? How can TCU leaders forge connections with lawmakers across the political spectrum?  And finally, what is at stake for TCUs and Native communities in the forthcoming general election?” They want both long features (2,500-3,000 words) and shorter features (1,500-2,000 words). They have several regular departments also. Deadline for feature story suggestions is 24 February 2020; the features deadline is 17 April 2020; and the deadline for On Campus news shorts column is 24 April 2020. Payment varies. No payment is made for Voices or Research articles. Details here.   

The Victorian Writer: Writing change
Writers Victoria is an Australian not-for-profit charity that supports and advocates for writers, illustrators, editors and literary-sector workers to be paid for the work that they do. They are accepting pitches of their in-house magazine, The Victorian Writer. For their June/July issue, they want work on ‘Writing change’ – cli fi, writing as power, power of writing, and writing as activism. They welcome both pitches and submissions. They accept non-fiction, articles and extracts up to 2,000 words (fiction and memoir submissions are open to Writers Victoria members only). Commissioned articles are paid AUD150-250. The deadline for this issue is 27 February 2020. Details here.

Calgary’s Child: Five themes
This Canadian magazine is for Calgary-area parents. According to their 2020 Editorial Calendar, the themes for Spring Edition 2020 (on sale in April) are: Summer Camp & Program Guide; Teen & Tween Guide; Spring Fun Feature; Birthday & Celebration Guide; and Education Guide: Academic Alternatives. There are several other themes listed. Pay is in Canadian funds. Details here, here and here.

Experience Life: Ready, Set, Go Outside!; Adapt and Grow
This is a health/fitness/quality-of-life magazine that is published 10 times a year. Apart from three in-depth features (2,500-3,500 words), they have four departments that need shorter pieces: Front of Book, Real Fitness, Real Food, Feature Well, and Real Life. They begin planning issues six or seven months in advance of the publish date. For June 2020, the theme is ‘Ready, Set, Go Outside!’ Their guidelines say, “Spending time in nature not only delivers healthy dividends to body and mind, but it also reminds us how vulnerable our natural world has become. Discover new ways to enjoy — and protect — the great outdoors.” For September, the theme is ‘Adapt and Grow’. Their guidelines say, “Change is the only constant in life, so it pays to learn how to shift strategies and mindsets when conditions, routines, and seasons call for it. Tune in to the latest thinking on how to make change work for you.” They have several other themes listed. Details here and here.

True West: Annual Travel Issue; Historic Hotels, Saloons and Getaways; Historic Scenic Highways; Towns to Hang Your Hat In/Annual Historic Trains
They publish literary non-fiction and heritage travel narratives about the Old West. They want “
enticing narrative and intelligent analysis on the history of the Old West—focusing mainly between 1800 to 1912, but not exclusively”, according to their guidelines. Also, “We actively seek out creative writers who can infuse their articles with dramatic realism, excellent research and memorable examinations. Tell a story that focuses on a singular person, place or event that reveals a broader aspect of American Western history and culture.” Queries should be no longer than 300 words; they review queries once a month. In April 2020, they will publish the Annual Travel Issue (with a Cooperative Museum ad section); for May, the theme is Historic Hotels, Saloons and Getaways; for June, it is Historic Scenic Highways; and for July/August, the issue is on Towns to Hang Your Hat In/Annual Historic Trains. There are several other themes listed. Pay is $0.25/word, and $20/photo (see guidelines). Details here and here (fill in details to download the media kit).

C Magazine: Humor
This magazine welcomes writing on contemporary Canadian art and culture that is lively and rigorously engaged with current ideas and debates. They are interested in writing that addresses art and its various contexts, and looks at trends and emerging perspectives through a mix of editorials, columns, in-depth essays, interviews, artist projects and reviews. They accept pitches for features, artist projects, reviews and columns. For Summer 2020, the theme is Humor. They have extensive writers’ guidelines, including: “In light of today’s incessantly apocalyptic discourse—which tends to crudely suggest that there will be a distinct cleaving of the troubled present from an even more troubled future—we’re curious about practices that use comedy, absurdity, and the illogic to attune audiences to the funny, playful, and weird underbelly of life as we know it, and as we might imagine it. … How are artists using humor as a wilful instrument of resistance, transgression, and critique? How is it employed as a tactic to cultivate forms of engagement that expand one’s conception of reality? Can humor’s ability to soften, calm, and rehumanize us make us more capable in our roles as agents of change? How might humor be used to confront the uncomfortable reality that, sometimes, institutional critique gets caught in a feedback loop or breeds negativity?” The deadline for thematic pitches is 16 January 2020; review pitches (not thematic) are accepted on a rolling basis till 30 January 2020. First drafts are due 10 March. Details here and here.

ASK Magazine: Alchemy; Sneaky Art Tricks
This is Cricket Media’s science and non-fiction magazine for 7- to 10-year-olds. The ideal article is an engaging non-fiction story (or cartoon) that is concrete, specific, and appealing to newly independent readers (grades 3–5), but that an adult reader might also find interesting – it should tell a good story, with an emphasis on ideas and problem-solving. They have feature articles (400-1,200 words), photo essays (400-800 words), humor pieces (200-400 words), profiles/interviews of scientists, inventors, engineers, and artists (200-1,000 words), theme-appropriate science experiments, and science panel cartoons (2-6 pages).
— Alchemy: This is the October 2020 theme. Their guidelines say, “What did the alchemists do, and how did they turn into chemists?
Possible topics: How can all these different creatures be made from just four elements?; alchemy in modern life; making new elements.” They want queries by 15 January 2020 for this theme.
— Sneaky Art Tricks: This is the November/December 2020 theme. Their guidelines say, “Wait—is that a camera?
Possible topics: Camera Obscura, the painter’s friend; profile of a particularly tricky painter (Vermeer? Leonardo?); how to draw perspective; why Michelangelo’s David has a big head; how to make a billboard so it looks right from below; “side view” pictures; golden ratio; conservation tricks; trompe l’oeil; how to make gray paint look like metal; animation.” They want queries by 30 February 2020 for this theme. Details here.

Taproot Magazine: Tides; Cure
This is a magazine of food, farm, family, and craft. The magazine is divided into three sections: Head – essays about living a more connected life; Hands – recipes, crafts and projects to make yourself; and Heart – the personal experience of more connected living. Their 2020 themes are: Tides (submission deadline 1 February 2020); Cure (submission deadline 1 April 2020). There are other themes listed too, with later deadlines. Payment varies depending on the type and length of submission. Details here.

American Theatre: Climate change and theatre; Family-friendly policies
This is a publication covering theatre in the US. They have an online as well as print edition. Two of their upcoming themes are
Climate Change and Theatre (March 2020), and Family-friendly policies (April 2020). They ask for a two-month lead time for material for their print issue. Pay is unspecified. Details here and here.

Smithsonian Magazine: Planet Positive; Travel Issue
This premier magazine accepts pitches from established freelance writers for features and certain departments. For April 2020, their issue theme is Planet Positive; for May, they will publish a Travel Issue. They have a print and an online section. Details here and here.

Kanstellation Magazine: The Dark Side of Science
This online publication that presents a thematic collage of what it means to be human in the digital age. Their guidelines say, “The theme for the second issue is, broadly, the dark side of science.
In the article “The Slowness of Literature and the Shadow of Knowledge” published on November 6, 2019, by The New Yorker, Karl Ove Knausgaard outlines this “dark side” of science: “With all our technological advances, from the printing press to the airplane and the nuclear-power station, there seems to follow a shadow, unseen and yet perceptible, for the consequences of these advances manifest themselves before our eyes. Karl Benz, who, in 1885, built the first motorcar in a workshop in Mannheim, only eighty kilometres from Frankfurt, could hardly have realized that, in the future, his machine—which would join places and people together, opening cultures to each other and increasing the radius of human life so considerably—would claim the lives of one and a quarter million people each year, in car crashes. Nor could he have known that carbon-dioxide emissions from cars would be a cause of global warming, rising sea levels, burning forests, growing desert areas, and the extinction of animal species.”
We’re looking for writing and art that explores the unintended side effects or consequences of scientific advancement, including but not limited to the areas of biology, physics, chemistry, and geology.” They will accept essays (1,000-2,500 words), as well as poetry, fiction, and art on the theme. Pay is $120 for essays, $100 for flash (fiction and non-fiction), and $60 for each poem, illustration, or photograph. The deadline is 15 January 2020. Details here.

Washington Post: On Parenting
The Washington Post wants new, insightful, different pieces that have an interesting angle related to parenting, of up to 1,200 words. They welcome reported pieces as well as personal essays. At times they also accept pitches. Details here.

Author Bio: S. Kalekar is the pseudonym of a regular contributor to this magazine. She is the author of 182 Short Fiction Publishers. She can be reached here.


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