Everyone loves a good love story. If you have a rom-com-worthy relationship story to share, you may be able to cash in on it by having it published in the New York Times.
That’s right, the newspaper is looking for personal essays on contemporary relationships, marriage, dating and parenthood for its popular Modern Love column. If your story is published, you will receive $300.
You don’t need to be a professional writer in order for your work to be selected. According to the submission guidelines, the most important element is that the “writing be emotionally honest and the story be freshly and compellingly told.”
The submission guidelines tell you everything you need to know before preparing your submission, from length (1,500-1,700 words) to how you should actually submit (an email with your essay attached in an MS-Word compatible document and pasted into the body of the email).
Another important tip is that your story should build suspense and mystery. Don’t give away the ending in your first paragraph. You story should also have a central conflict.
“The column is about problems. Without conflict, there’s no narrative. An essay about how in love someone is tends to be about as interesting as sitting in a coffee shop listening to your friend tell you how in love she is. Giddiness is not narrative. Conflict is,” explains editor Daniel Jones in the guidelines.
That doesn’t mean the story can’t have a “happy” ending. Many of them often do, but the reader should understand the full story of how the characters got there.
Jones stresses that for potential writers to get the best sense of what type of work is published, they should read the column.
In addition to the $300 you’ll receive for your article, the cache of being a New York Times-published author could lead to greater opportunities.
Amy Sutherland, whose Modern Love essay led to a book and then a movie deal, says the experience was a whirlwind.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect that. I had publishers and film people and also got interviewed by reporters all around the world. It became quite a firestorm. I had quite a strong and quick response to that column. It took over my life for a few weeks,” she told The Penny Hoarder.
Think you have what it takes? Give it a try, and see where it leads you.