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Defining, Writing and Selling Creative Non-Fiction: A Shortcut

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I don’t know about you but the term creative non-fiction has often confused me.

Sure, the distinction between fiction and non-fiction isn’t that blurry. And we know that non-fiction can require creativity depending on what you are writing.

So I decided to clarify the term for myself and other writers who might also be a tad puzzled by it.

According to, creative non-fiction is a “a branch of writing that employs the literary techniques usually associated with fiction or poetry to report on actual persons, places, or events.” And it includes “travel writing, nature writing, science writing, sports writing, biography, autobiography, memoir, interviews and essays”.

The founder/editor of the Creative Nonfiction magazine, Lee Gutkind, describes this type of writing as “true stories well told”, a definition I really liked. I recommend reading his What Is Creative Non-Fiction page (linked above).

Selling Creative Non-Fiction

Selling creative non-fiction isn’t different from selling any other non-fiction piece. You need to find the right markets, research them and query accordingly.

There are many markets for personal essays, though some tend to accept work from writers living in certain locations.

Below are some markets that buy personal essays:

– Fifteen Paying Markets for Personal Essays and Life Stories  – This is a post on Writing World, listing 15 markets

Sasee is a magazine for women, written by women. Just study the magazine, and submit timely & relevantly, following their editorial calendar.

20 Great Places to Publish Personal Essays Freelance writer Megan Ward has listed her favorite personal essay markets.

Paying Personal Essay Markets from Writer Abroad

Of course there are a lot more, but the ones above are bound to get you started. Also remember that creative non-fiction includes travel writing, blog posts and more, so there are way more markets than I can list in a post.


So far, when it comes to creative non-fiction, I’ve written essays and travel articles. What’s your relationship with it?















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4 Responses to “Defining, Writing and Selling Creative Non-Fiction: A Shortcut”

  • Great resources, Pinar! I’ve thought about becoming a science writer a time or two (I am a writer but secretly a science geek at heart).

  • Pinar Tarhan says:

    Maybe you should give it a go! :) I’m a geek in several areas as well, but with all the fiction, researching (and finding) markets that are a good fit for all our geek (non-fiction) areas is getting harder! : )

  • Yvette Carol says:

    Hi Pinar! My relationship with it goes back to my journalism days. I’d pick a topic, go out and interview people, write it up – sweat over it just the same we do over our creative fiction – and then start submitting it to magazines. Fun times!

  • Pinar Tarhan says:

    Creative fiction is a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing!

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