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These guidelines, also available at our website in slightly longer form, were updated on Dec. 31, 2017. Please read carefully; it's pretty comprehensive, but we wanted to be thorough!

What We Accept

Hippocampus Magazine enthusiastically considers unsolicited, previously unpublished creative nonfiction submissions in the following categories:
  • memoir excerpt – a self-contained portion (chapter or selection) of a larger, book-length work – 4,000 words max
  • personal essay – a short narrative reflecting on a particular life experience or observation – 4,000 words max
  • flash creative nonfiction – 800 words max
  • For our small press submission guidelines, visit our Books by Hippocampus page (closed from March 1 - Aug. 1. 2018)
  • Our articles section (review, interviews, etc.) is by assignment only, and handled by our section editors

More On What We're Looking for... And What We're Not

Please read our current and past issues to familiarize yourself with our publication. We like quirky, we like edgy, we like witty, we like gritty, we like smart, we like diverse voices. We root for the underdog, and we appreciate resilience. We like pieces that take us to new places, we like to be moved, and, most of all, we like pieces that stick with us. We’re interested in hybrid forms and unique structures (that work in an in online format.) We entertain science, nature, and travel pieces that offer a personal element.

We do not accept fiction, poetry, academic papers, editorials, political/social commentary (read: diatribes), satire, or criticism. Also, since we're an online publication, we tend to not accept pieces that may require special text formatting/extra programming, or that include lots of footnotes. We prefer not to accept anonymous work.

Because of our response time, we may also not be the best place for timely pieces, such as an essay that reflects on a current event or holiday. (A newspaper/commercial magazine/specialty website with shorter lead times may be more ideal for these!)

We do not accept story pitches, and we do not accept submissions by email or mail. [We make rare exceptions to the mail in extenuating circumstances where a writer does not have access to the internet and/or a computer, such as incarceration, hospitalization, or other sensitive situations.]

Publishing Overview

  • As of 2018, Hippocampus publishes 10 new issues per year: January/February, March, April, May, June, July (a special annual theme issue), August, September/October, November (a special contest issue featuring winner and finalist stories), and December.
  • New issues typically go live the 1st of the month, but in cases of the 1st falling on a weekend or holiday, sometimes they'll be released the first Monday or non-holiday day of the month.
  • Regular monthly issues and our theme issue feature about 8-10 new CNF pieces and an articles department (reviews, craft, writing life, interviews); our two double-issues offer expanded content, up to 15 pieces of CNF, and an articles department. Occasionally, we post news updates and additional articles throughout the month.

Guidelines: Word Count, Formatting and Submission Information

Please note: submissions not following our guidelines, below, will be automatically declined without explanation. Our blind reading process is important to us, and names on manuscripts/in filenames is the most overlooked rule. Please take care in your submissions to us and all literary journals. 

Aside from fitting our gene, submissions should be:

  • no more than 4,000 words in the memoir and essay category
  • no more than 800 words for flash creative nonfiction pieces
  • double-spaced
  • page-numbered
  • in a standard web/print font, such as Times New Roman or Arial in 10-12 pt. font. (No courier, or comic sans, please.)
  • free of your name or other identifying/contact information in the manuscript, header, and filename; you do not need to attach a cover page with your manuscript as that information is request in the submission form itself

Other Information (Multiple/Simultaneous Submissions/Repeat Contributors):

  • Do not send us multiple submissions.
    • Hippocampus will only accept one submission at a time from an author; we will automatically decline any additional submissions, keeping only the first active in our queue. The exception is during contest or theme issue calls, in which you can have a regular submission AND a contest or theme submission under consideration at the same time.
    • You may also have a book query and an essay under consideration with us simultaneously.
    • If you are interested in submitting more than one piece to us, please wait until you receive a decision on one before submitting another.
    • Effectively Aug. 1, 2017, Hippocampus will only publish work by a specific contributor once per calendar year; if you’ve been accepted by us, please wait until the following calendar year to submit again (this allows for us to have the most variety of voices possible.) The exception is contest and special theme issues, which are open to all.
  • We accept simultaneous submissions, under the condition that you will withdraw your work from us if it is acceptable elsewhere.
    • Use Submittable’s “withdraw” feature, not email; this is so the status is changed and alerts given in the system. Again, please do not withdraw via email; we do not manage submissions by email.
    • Why is withdrawing important? If not removed from the queue, your submission will continue through our editorial process, meaning our volunteer reading panel reads and comments on your work; if your work is no longer available, we’re sure you’ll agree this is not a good use of anyone’s time.

How to Submit Your Work

Regular submissions require a $3 fee ($1.91 goes to Hippocampus after Submittable’s fee.) Learn more in this blog post.

Cover Letter:
A cover letter is not required. If you submit one, you must use the cover letter field, not as a page within your uploaded document; then, please know your letter is not visible to the reader panel. Your work will stand alone in our blind reading process, the way it should be.

Submission Turnaround Time

  • We will respond to everyone who submits, but please be patient. Typical turnaround time is 3 to 4 months.
  • We accept—and expect—simultaneous submissions so, if another publication picks up your work in the meantime, please let us know via Submittable, as noted earlier (not through email).
  • We accept submissions on a rolling basis. If we accept yours, we'll let you know in which issue it will appear. Sometimes there is more lead time than others.

Terms of Publication

  • By accepting publication, the author grants Hippocampus Magazine one-time electronic rights and one-time print anthology rights.
  • By accepting publication, the author gives Hippocampus Magazine the right to publish the work on, to archive it indefinitely as part of the issue in which it appeared, and to be included in future anthologized print or electronic editions of our publication. (Note: In some cases, we’ll re-feature archived work on the homepage; this does not constitute a new publication.)
  • Authors whose work is selected for publication will receive a contract outlining these terms in more detail.
  • If we accept your story, you will receive notification via Submittable’s email system, so be sure you are set up to receive those notifications and periodically check your spam or promotion (or other filtered boxes.) Your story will also change to “accepted” status in Submittable. Also, if you change your email address, be sure you update your Submittable account so you don’t miss a notification.

  • If we accept your story, you must respond to us with your intentions within 30 days; we’ll send one reminder email. If you do not hear back from you, we’ll assume you no longer wish to publish this particular piece with us. We will then change the status in Submittable from "accepted" to "withdrawn."


Hippocampus Magazine is an independent, volunteer, mostly editor-funded effort. As of January 2017, we offer a $40 honorarium to authors whose work is accepted in the memoir, essay, and flash categories. If your story is selected for publication, your payment will be issued via PayPal within 60 days of the date of publication.

Other perks and opps:

  • One contributor from each issue can win bragging rights AND a prize if their piece is deemed “Most Memorable.”
  • Also we have an annual contest, The Remember in November Contest for Creative Nonfiction which offers a grand prize of $1,000.
  • Contributors receive a discount on HippoCamp, our annual creative nonfiction conference, as well as special recognition on the conference name badge.

OTHER NOTES - Communication Channels

Added this new heading 8/16/2017 due to personal boundaries being crossed more often:
Please only correspond with us through email or Submittable; the magazine nor individual editors do not use the Hippocampus or personal  Twitter or Facebook accounts, especially Facebook Messenger, for professional and official communication. We DO use these channels for general audience engagement, but not to talk submissions, whether for the magazine, books division, or our annual conference. Thank you for helping us streamline our communication. (Note: We’re firm believers in the email charter; give it a read and see how you can help save inboxes everywhere!)

About Passing on Submissions

Just because we pass on a particular submission does not mean it does not have merit — we publish 8-10 pieces in regular issues and 12-15 in expanded double-issues, and this often means turning away strong work. Sometimes it's as simple as an essay with similar theme or style was recently published. Do not take editorial decisions personally. Just sitting down and getting your thoughts on paper is a task for which you should feel great pride—not everyone can do it. Every piece of writing has value. We feel it is important to spread the message of being persistent and diligent in your search for publication. Never let rejection discourage you from sharing your story. Just because it is not right for us or right for us at this time does not mean it will not find a more fitting or timely home. Write on.

Hello, creative nonfiction friend! Below, you will find our abbreviated essay submission guidelines; Please read full guidelines on our website first if you have not done so already. Otherwise, please fill out the brief form, including checking off if your piece is an essay or memoir excerpt.  

Essay submissions should be:

  • No more than 4,000 words
  • Double-spaced, with pages numbered
  • Free  of your name in header/footer, title page and file name. (We do realize  that in creative nonfiction, your name might be necessary within the  content. Please use your judgement.)

Ends on December 31, 2019$3.00

Hello, creative nonfiction friend! Below, you will find our abbreviated essay submission guidelines; Please read full guidelines on our website first if you have not done so already.

Flash CNF submissions should be:

  • No more than 800 words
  • Double-spaced, with pages numbered
  • Free of your name in header/footer, title page and file name. (We do realize  that in creative nonfiction, your name might be necessary within the  content. Please use your judgement.)

Hippocampus Magazine is giving away more than $1,250 in cash and prizes this November. DEADLINE: August 15, 2019.

--Memoir excerpts and personal essays accepted -- there is no theme.
  --Word count 4,000 words max.
--Submission MUST be free of your name in headers/footers, title page and file name.
  --Enter between May 15 and August 15, 2019
  --$12 entry fee (supports prizes; $10.63 goes to Hippocampus after Submittable fee)

  --The Hippocampus reader panel will select five to eight finalists from all submitted essays and memoir excerpts.
--A TBA guest judge will select the winners from these five finalists.
--Finalist stories will be published in the November 2019 issue of Hippocampus Magazine.
--During the month of November, the Most Memorable contest will double as The Remember in November Reader’s Choice prize—the readers of Hippocampus will also have a chance to make their case for which of the five finalists should win!



  • $1,000 grand prize (1) +  optional free registration to HippoCamp 2020
  • $250 runner-up (1)
  • $25 reader’s choice winner (doubles as the most memorable designation of the month)

  Full contest details, including judge info, available on our website:

NOTE: We announced this theme issue in our newsletter first! If you're not already on our email list, please consider subscribing so that you'll always be up to date on submissions announcement including open reading periods, special calls, etc.  

Hippocampus Magazine is looking for submissions of up to 4,000 words for its annual theme issue; this year, it’s LOST.

We invite you to send your best creative nonfiction piece – and your best interpretation of the theme—to us for consideration for our December 2019 issue. 

Please see full guidelines at our website before submitting.

Deadline: Sept. 15, 2019.

Our anthology series is open for submission for two forthcoming titles. Please refer to our full submission guidelines for full details. 


This anthology will celebrate print media—magazines and newspapers—from the pre-digital age. We want to hear stories from all parts of these operations, from the newsroom to production. We want to hear from those who worked for small town papers and big city dailies. We want to hear about how these publications built community, impacted change, celebrated local milestones, or mourned national tragedies. We want to hear how people chased stories, and we’re interested in the stories behind those with the bylines. We want to hear how your printed words made a difference—as well as how your career affected you.

Note: We’re not interested in individual reflection per se, but rather compelling essays with a clear narrative arc.


This anthology will celebrate small town America.  We want to hear about small family-owned businesses, such as the stores and specialty shops that used to rule Main Street America. What did you family sell? Make? Fix? Build? How did these businesses define you or your family members? How did they evolve over time? While we’re open to all time periods, we’re most interested in business that began in the pre-Internet era—and we’re especially interested in places that span generations.

Note: We’re not interested in individual reflection per se, but rather compelling essays with a clear narrative arc. Place and sensory detail will be important in these essays, too. We want these places to come alive through your words.

Other details:

  • Deadline for both: Aug. 30, 2019 (extended from May 15)
  • Word count: Up to 5,000 words for anthology submissions
  • Submission must be free of your name in document/file name/headers, etc. 
  • Details: If your piece is selected, you’ll receive a $25 honorarium and two contributor copies.
This category is to give select submitters the chance to resubmit a piece we declined in its current iteration, but one that we read with interest and on which we provided suggestions for reworking. This is a separate category as to not charge a submission fee for the same piece the second time around.

Submitters: Please include your original title (in case you changed that) and date of your first submission in your cover letter; this will help us keep track of its progress.

Note: Submitting a revision does not guarantee acceptance; it is vetted just the same.

If you use this category and were not invited to re-submit, your submission will be declined.

Hippocampus Magazine and Books