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Essay Submission Reading Period (The Rumpus)

Reading Period: January 1 through February 28, June 1 through July 31, and August 1 through October 31.

Payment: Beginning May 2016, The Rumpus began to pay feature writers and book reviewers. Each month, we set aside $300. All eligible contributors are able to opt in for payment at the end of the month, and the money is divided between those writers who opt in. We know that this amount is not enough, and we are always working toward being able to pay a standard industry rate to all feature contributors and book reviewers. One way we are working toward this is by launching a new Membership program in June 2022. We hope to build enough ongoing support to increase the funding pool for contributors sooner than later.

Fees: N/A

Submission Guidelines: 

Submit via Submittable 

We welcome essay submissions up to 4,000 words in length. In addition to personal narrative-driven essays we are interested in non-traditional forms of nonfiction. Essays should explore issues and ideas with depth and breadth, illuminating a larger cultural context or human struggle. Regardless of topic, we are looking for well-crafted sentences, a clear voice, vivid scenes, dramatic arc, reflection, thematic build, and attention to the musicality of prose. 

Because the volume of submissions is so high and it takes time to read work carefully, it is generally not advisable to send time-sensitive work. Essays that deal with current events in ways that do not rely on timeliness are very welcome. 

Essays must be previously unpublished. This includes personal blogs and social media. Please submit only one essay for consideration at a time; we ask that you wait until a decision has been made on that essay to submit again.

A cover letter is also welcome. Tell us a little bit about yourself, why you chose The Rumpus, where your work has appeared before, or anything else you think might be important for us to know. Simultaneous submissions are fine, but do withdraw your submission if your essay is picked up elsewhere.

Thank you for taking the time to proofread your submission. Double-spaced text is appreciated. If you have not heard a decision from us after three months, feel free to check in.


At The Rumpus, we know how easy it is to find pop culture on the internet, so we’re here to give you something more challenging, to show you how beautiful things are when you step off the beaten path. The Rumpus is a place where people come to be themselves through their writing, to tell their stories or speak their minds in the most artful and authentic way they know how. We strive to be a platform for marginalized voices and writing that might not find a home elsewhere, and to lift up new voices alongside those of more established writers we love. We work to shine a light on stories that build bridges, tear down walls, and speak truth to power.

The Rumpus launched in 2009. In January 2017, The Rumpus was purchased by Marisa Siegel, who had previously served as Managing Editor from 2014–2017. In January 2022, Alyson Sinclair became the new owner and publisher, Alysia Li-Ying Sawchyn is the Editor-in-Chief, and Marisa Siegel continues at The Rumpus as an editor-at-large. Learn more here.