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Fourth Genre

Published twice annually by the Michigan State University Press, Fourth Genre is a literary journal devoted to publishing notable, innovative work in creative nonfiction. Given the genre’s flexibility and expansiveness, we welcome a variety of works ranging from personal essays and memoirs to literary journalism and personal criticism. We showcase works that are lyrical, self-interrogative, meditative, and reflective, as well as expository, analytical, exploratory, or whimsical. Our journal fosters a writer-to-reader conversation, one that explores the markers and boundaries of literary/creative nonfiction.

  • General submissions are accepted September 1 - November 30 only. Reading fee is $4. Authors selected for publication are paid with two (2) complimentary copies of the journal.
  • Where Submittable prompts you to create a cover letter, please include your name, mailing address, phone number, email address, and title of piece, and approximate word count. But DO NOT include your name or contact information anywhere on the manuscript you upload--not even in the file name.
  • 8,000 word limit
  • Multiple submissions not accepted from individual authors during the general submissions period.
  • Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but require immediate notification to Fourth Genre if accepted elsewhere
  • Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize submissions are accepted January 1 - March 15 only. For additional information about contest submissions, visit the Essay Prize Page.
  • Reading fee for the Essay Prize: $22 (U.S.) for each individual submission (multiple submissions accepted).
  • NOTE: For both reading periods, we read blind, so be sure your name or any other identifying information does not appear on the manuscript or in the file name.

Nonfiction 2022 Fee: usd $4.00


Closes on Friday, December 9, 2022 11:59 PM US Mountain Standard Time (in 8 days)

We will begin accepting submission for our general submission period on September 1st.

Here at Fourth Genre editorial we are thirsty for essays that give us something to drink besides mainstream ideologies and forms, that showcase imagination and meaning-making capacities, that embrace a love of a sentence’s shape. We believe good essays center the margin or marginalize the center, or even better, blow up the center-margin borders. We want essays that make the common uncommon—that are not about the things they pretend to be about. You know, the essay about your shoelace that’s not really about your shoelace. We want to read more essays that reflect the intersections of race, ethnicity, culture, class, identity, gender, sexuality, diasporas, borderlands; and more essays that are cultural, lyrical, experimental, personal, environmental, self-interrogative, meditative, and reflective, as well as expository, analytical, exploratory, or whimsical. We want to publish the best creative nonfiction essays, understanding that notions of “best,” of taste and genre, are political and cultural.

Submission Guidelines

  • General Submissions: Accepted September 1 - November 30 only. Authors selected for publication paid with two (2) complimentary copies of the journal.
  • Please include an approximate word count. No need to include a bio.
  • Please be sure your name does not appear on the manuscript, either on the front page or in the headers or footers.
  • 8,000 word limit for general submissions.
  • During the fall reading period, we ask that you submit only one piece per author.
  • Simultaneous submissions require immediate notification to Fourth Genre if accepted elsewhere.
  • Although we love graphic and visual elements in essays, we cannot print the inside pages in color. Any image in your essay must be effective in gray scale.
  • All images must be minimum 300 dpi at planned publication size.
  • It is the author/researcher’s obligation and responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright and/or other use restrictions prior to submitting materials to MSU Press for publication.
  • Citations, permissions, and captions are required upon submission for all images, including those derived from the internet.
  • Use the Fourth Genre Permission Request Letter to obtain permission from image’s rightsholder.
  • MSU Press cannot publish such materials until written clearance is obtained.

Other Related Projects

Fourth Genre Multimedia Essay Prize
Fourth Genre Steinberg Memorial Essay Prize