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What the Washingtonian Wants from a Personal Essay

magazines_articleIn part three of our four-part Personal Essay Markets series, we spoke with editors from 15 different mags to get the details on what they’re looking for in a personal essay.

Here, an editor from the Washingtonian shares his advice on pitching the pub’s “First Person” section:

Washingtonian – “First Person”
The back-page essay in this magazine should have a Washington, D.C., angle, and it’s best if the writer lives in or has lived in the area. Past examples include an essay by a 15-year-old heart transplant recipient about meeting her donor family, and a piece by a public defender about how she does work that many find indefensible.
Length: 600 words
Pay: $1 a word
Assigning editor: Bill O’Sullivan, BOSULLIVAN at WASHINGTONIAN dot COM
O’Sullivan’s advice: “Get in fast — 600 words isn’t much space, so you have to set up your story quickly. Be sure you have something to say (an essay as opposed to an anecdote) and fill it with as many specific details and mini anecdotes as possible. Keep in mind that this is a story, not an opinion piece.”

For more, including similar details about Working Mother, read: Personal Essay Markets, Part III.

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