Submission Guidelines

Brain, Child is an award-winning literary magazine for mothers. We publish 20-plus essays per month for our print, online and blog publications. Founded in 2000, our mission is to bring the voices of women of different backgrounds and circumstances together on the page, on our website, and on our blog.

We love to read submissions. We are excited by great writing. It makes our day when we hear from an established writer or publish an author for the first time. We believe our writers are the lifeblood of our publication and strive to publicize and promote our writers through our website, Facebook (90,000+ fans), and partnerships with, The Huffington Post, and others. We respond within eight to ten weeks. We offer competitive pay rates. We welcome follow up emails if by chance you do not hear from us.

For all submissions, please email the manuscript in the body of the email to with “Submission” and the department (i.e. “Fiction” “Essay” “Feature Pitch”) as the subject heading. Please don’t send your submission as an attachment.

PERSONAL ESSAYS (800 to 4,000 words): These are the signature pieces of the magazine, the heart and soul of our endeavor. We’re looking for essays that share certain qualities–specificity and insight primary among them. These pieces should employ illustrative anecdotes, vivid scenes, authentic dialogue, a strong personal voice, and a down-to-earth tone.  Examples of recent essays include a woman searching for her egg donor on Facebook, a blind mother raising her seeing child, and a mother’s fight to adopt her foster child. Please note that we don’t publish how-to articles.

FEATURE (3000 to 5000 words): Each issue, we devote space to at least one traditional feature, a piece that relies more heavily on reporting than introspection. Examples of our feature stories include an in-depth look at the home-schooling movement and an investigation into the frontiers of genetic testing. We look for high-quality research and reporting that also incorporates a strong narrative. Please query with clips and a one-page story outline.

FICTION (1500 to 4000 words): We look for strongly developed characters, vivid scenes and authentic dialogue. Since much of Brain, Child is made up of personal essays, we prefer stories that aren’t written from a first-person point of view.

POETRY: We print two to five poems per issue, related to parenting or having been parented. We look for imagery, clarity and expert word choice. Every word counts.

NUTSHELL (200 to 800 words): Nutshell is our news section, offering both stories you won’t find in the mainstream media and unique perspectives on hot topics. Example stories include: a profile of pediatrician whose own children watched three hours of TV a day; a report on a new study of lesbian adoptive mothers; and an interview with a mother whose child left home for college at fourteen. Please query with clips and a pitch.

DEBATE: Our section of friendly fire, where two writers square off on a topic of controversy. We’re looking for concise, thoughtful words on issues such as sex education, letting kids quit, and whether sleeping with your children is okay: for the magazine, 750 words on a yes/no question; for the website, up to 1,000 words on a particular perspective. Brief anecdotes desirable; very strong opinion required. Please query with the issue you will address, clips and/or publication credits and the writer you will pair up with if you have one.

REVIEWS (200 words for mini-reviews; 700-2,500 for longer reviews): We review new and not-so-new books of parenting-related nonfiction, memoir, autobiography, and fiction as well as theme-based roundups of children’s books (an example of this is a collection of stories that “Teach Tolerance” or books that encourage children to “Make the World a Better Place.” Our short reviews focus on books dealing with family or parenting (no how-to or expert advice manuals). The longer review essays tackle several books on a distinct theme; these essays are thesis-driven rather than a serial review of the works at hand.

MOTHERWIT (800 words): This is our back page essay that relishes humor. We’re open to a variety of forms (e.g., narrative, letter, quiz, etc.)—as long as it makes us laugh.


BRAIN, TEEN: In 2015 we will have another special issue for parents of t(w)eens. Here we invite essays, fiction and poetry that capture the unique experience of raising t(w)eens. Examples of essays include a father coming out to his daughter, a mother letting her son take a gap year, and a mother’s foray into heavy metal music with her teen daughter. Deadline:  November 1, 2014.

BRAIN, MOTHER (500 to 1,200 words): This is our signature blog where we capture short essays that spur thinking and conversation. Recent posts include a mother teaching her children about discrimination, a mother deciding whether to medicate her daughter, and a mother’s adoption of a foster child.

Upcoming Fall 2014 Blog Series:  We invite posts (750 -1,000 words) for two upcoming Brain, Mother blog series:

1) LGBT families: Examples might include a mother’s love for her transgender son; two moms sending their first born off to college; how a parent talks to a child about gender identity.

2) Adoption-themed: Examples might include a mother’s choice to change her adoption plan; adoptees as mothers; when adoptive parents decide they are unable to parent their adoptive children.

Deadline for both blog series: October 1, 2014. Multiple submissions welcome.

RIGHTS: First North American Rights with exclusive for six months after publication and crediting/linking to Brain, Child as the original publisher if work is published after the exclusivity period.


Thank you for considering Brain, Child for your work. -Marcelle Soviero, Editor-in-Chief