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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Hippocampus Magazine enthusiastically considers unsolicited, previously unpublished creative nonfiction submissions in the following categories: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 or on main Submittable page first if you have not done so already. Otherwise, please fill out the brief form, including checking off if your piece is an essay, memoir excerpt, or flash.    

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.)   

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

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.)

Hippocampus Magazine and Press LLC is looking for its first few book-length works for its small press division.

We're looking for work in the following categories (and, in parentheses, is what to submit for consideration):
  • Memoirs (query + first three chapters)
  • Essay collections (query + three essays)
  • Literary journalism - (query + first three chapters OR proposal, as we'll entertain strongly developed ideas that may not yet be completed projects)
  • Creativity books (proposal)
  • Craft books (proposal)

We'll respond to all queries/proposals within six months. Thank you for your interest.

Please note the selection process is competitive; during our early years, we'll have the capacity to publish two to three titles per year.

HippoCamp’s programming is mostly for-attendees, by attendees! With  the exception of keynotes, workshops and a few panels, our conference is  built from the proposals YOU submit!

We’re enthusiastically inviting attendees who also are interested in  being part of our speaker line-up to submit a session proposal for  HippoCamp: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers (Aug. 23-25,  2019) in one of our our four tracks or flash sessions.

  • Breakout Sessions in four tracks:
    We’re looking for dynamic speakers and engaging, informative, practical  60-minute sessions that will give our attendees actionable takeaways. Breakout session presenters will receive a special presenter rate (about 60% off early-bird conference registration).
    • CREATE – craft topics related specifically to CNF, but which may apply to other genres
    • SHARE – sessions related to publishing and promotion – getting your work out there
    • LIVE – sessions dedicated to living the writer’s life: how to  balance writing with family and/or a job, how to make ends meet, etc.
    • SPECIAL TOPICS – sessions devoted to either a niche writing area, or  bigger-picture topics related to writers today. (In 2018, these  included writing about trauma, science of memory, and handling  tough/touchy public relations situations)

  • Lightning-Round (Flash!) presentation: HippoCamp will hold a general session featuring five 10-minute presentations by select attendees. Flash session presenters will receive a special presenter rate (about 60% off early-bird conference registration). 

See our WISH LIST of session topics for ideas. 


  • Submission period is between Sept. 30 and Dec. 15, 2018
  • Sessions are reviewed and selected by the conference programming committee.
  • We’ll announce the line-up in late January before tickets go on sale in March.

To submit your proposal, at our Submittble form, you will need to  have ready: title, abstract (100 words), short bio (50 words), and any  applicable links or past conference highlights; you’ll also answer  questions including why you’re a fit for HippoCamp (75 words), suggested  skill-level and track (CREATE/SHARE/LIVE/TOPICS ), why your topic is  relevant to CNF writers (50 words).

[submission for will go live Sept. 30]


  • We’re not an academic conference, and we’re not a retreat or workshop.
  • We’re formatted in the style of a professional development conference – we’re more inspired by Austin than academia (a la SXSW).
  • Our vocabulary is a bit different than other writing conferences:  rather than faculty and classes and students, we have presenters and  sessions and attendees.
  • We’re not a retreat nor are we solely focused on generative writing in our limited time together.
  • We offer many sessions outside the traditional literary world, many  of which draw inspiration from business, technology, media, education,  and creativity — we expect that attendees will use critical thinking to  see how these ideas can translate to their own writing life. In short,  everything here is not literally literary.


Now that we have four conferences’ worth of feedback, we’ve begun to  really hone our “conference aesthetic.” Based on our highest-rated  sessions and speakers from past events, here’s what we’re looking for in  speakers and sessions:


We want smart, dynamic, passionate, friendly speakers to fill our roster! Here are some details:

  • Speakers of all backgrounds and levels of experience are welcome –  we love giving people a chance to make their professional conference  debut!
  • Your passion for and knowledge of your topic is often more important  to us than your years of experience or publication credits or  professional affiliations.
  • We look for well-prepared speakers who can deliver an  informative, inspiring presentation with energy, confidence and poise.  We’re not looking for people who “just wing-it.” We love speakers who  take our speaker preparation seriously and respect our  requests/suggestions for maximum audience engagement.
  • We love speakers who aren’t afraid to get out from behind the podium  and engage with the audience; it’s why we provide lavaliere mics rather  than tie you to a podium. Even better when that engagement continues  throughout the conference.
  • We look for sincere speakers who care about the audience and are  here to share knowledge and help writers – not just to add a bullet  point on a resume or CV (but that IS a perk, too!)
  • We’re also looking for speakers from outside the literary world!  Some of our highest-rated or most-Tweetable speakers were from other  industries who were able to tie their expertise to the writing world.
  • We’re looking for professional, cordial speakers who are committed to their involvement in this conference –  this means communicating with us before the conference and helping us  plan by providing technical needs, reading/replying to speaker  correspondence and providing requested information in a timely manner.
  • We are most interested in speakers who truly want to be part of the  entire conference experience and community; if you want to come in only  for your 60-minute presentation and then leave, this may not be the  right conference for you. Our most successful speakers, the ones that  return year after year, are a prime example of making the most out of  the conference sharing experience; they are here to share, but also know  they are here to learn and connect. Again, we’re for-attendee,  by-attendee; it’s what makes us different.


We love TEDTalks. We prefer giving one rock star a chance to light up  a room at a breakout session over offering only panels (although we  have those, too!).

  • We love fresh ideas! Topics we haven’t seen before at conferences.
  • We love variety! While memoir is a big part of the CNF genre, our  offerings should include more types of writing and other publication  goals.
  • We love practical sessions: presentations that leave attendees with a list of notes and to-dos.
  • But not every session has to be a writing lesson per se – we also  look for inspirational, this-is-my-story-type or this-is-how-I-did-it  presentations. Sessions of the latter nature should still have key  takeaways.
  • We love sessions that share lots of examples/case studies – seeing the theory in action makes a presentation more memorable.

What we’re not looking for in a session proposal:

  • We’re not typically looking for breakout sessions with lots of  writing activities or group work; it’s not manageable given the allotted  time and large group. Small prompts and some interaction are OK and, in  fact, encouraged and well-received. But our breakout sessions are not  intended to be a workshopping scenario. Keep in mind 80+ people could be  in your room.
  • We’re not looking for ultra-specific topics, such as exploring the works of one particular writer.
  • We’re not looking for sessions led by more than two people.
  • We’re not looking for paper presentations. (However, use that paper and research to build an awesome presentation!)
  • Although this is clearly stated as a call for breakout  sessions, we want to reiterate that we are not looking for panel or  workshop proposals.

HippoCamp speaker expectations:

We’re looking to produce a smooth conference and that goes beyond  amazing presentations – there are nuts and bolts-type things too we  expect of our team of brilliant presenters.  (This may seem like a lot,  but these are questions we’re often asked, or issues we’ve encountered  in the past, so we’re sharing these details ahead of time!)

In submission form, we ask you to check that you’ve read our speaker  expectations form; please take this seriously; in past years, from  questions we received, it was evident the guidelines we provide were not  read or retained.

  • Presenters MUST be registered attendees of the conference and  must officially register before conference program goes to print;  speakers are responsible for their own travel and lodging.
  • Submitting a proposal does not mean you are committing to attend or  to present at HippoCamp; if we accept your session idea, we’ll confirm  that you are definitely able to attend, and you can make your final  decision then. So please submit even if you’re unsure today if you can  make it. You have time to figure it all out!
  • Presenters MUST agree to read and respond in a timely manner to  speaker communication emails/requests for information to help with  day-of logistics/meet deadlines for technology requests, etc.
  • Day-of/last-minute requests will NOT be honored or  tolerated; we give speakers more than six months to prepare and think  about your presentation needs. We will take past  experiences/interactions into consideration when reviewing proposals  this year.
  • Presenters must agree to a group or individual phone call about a  month before the conference for a brief speaker orientation, which  includes covering the expectations outlined here, and will provide some  tips on how to stick to a time limit, prepare technology, and how to  think quickly on your feet if you hit a snag.
  • Presenters must agree to have their session photographed for future use and for marketing and archival purposes.
  • Presenters are encouraged to share slides and/or presentation  materials (if applicable) for use for post-conference promotion; this is  not required.
  • Should we decide to record sessions, presenters are encouraged to  allow us to record (audio) presentation for archival purposes/attendee  access.
  • Presenters are responsible for bringing their own handouts (if applicable).
  • Presenters must respect time limits (no doing so adversely affects  their peer presenters); this means you’ll take your presentation  preparation seriously and practice.
  • There is a maximum of two presenters for break-out sessions and one presenter for flash sessions.
  • On the administrative side, we trust that speakers will read/reply to speaker correspondence and provide requested information in a timely manner.  We cannot emphasize this enough; if a speaker is unprepared, it  reflects on the conference as well. If speakers change/submit tech needs  at last minute, it causes strain on all.
  • Also on the administrative/logistical side – we are looking for  speakers who will adhere to a time limit, who can think quick on their  feet if they hit a snag (either a tech snafu or getting sidetracked by a  question and needing to get back on track).
  • We encourage attendees to be completely comfortable with any technology they choose to use.  For instance, if you are not familiar with PowerPoint or Prezi, please  do not opt to “try it out” for the first time during a professional  presentation. We LOVE multimedia presentations, but only use this option  to enhance your presentation and IF you are experienced in the  platform you choose. A few of the highest-rated workshops and sessions  in past years were all analog!
  • Finally, on the day of the conference, we trust that speakers will  show up to their rooms with ample time to discover and address any  technical issues; and to make this work, previous speaker must also end  and pack up on time.

Good luck! Again, call for proposals runs Sept. 30 – Dec. 15.

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: March 30, 2019
  • 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