Writers' Guidelines

What we doTales from a Small Planet publishes personal essays, fiction, interviews and humor about the experience of living in another country and culture, as well as post reports ("Real Post Reports") and school reports from around the world. By honestly sharing both the joys and challenges of living in another culture, we help others around the world choose a new post, know what to expect, prepare wisely, and -- perhaps most importantly -- know that they aren't alone when they find themselves struggling to adapt.

Who we are: We are a non-profit organization with a volunteer Board and a small team of volunteer editors and social media specialists. Most of our volunteers are part of the U.S. Foreign Service community.

What we are looking for: Personal essays, memoir, fiction, humor and interviews/profiles consistent with our theme: "What It's Really Like to Live There." An ideal submission has the following attributes:

  • The writer (or fictional protagonist) is part of the story. We’re much more interested in personal experiences with expat life than travel narratives or descriptions of places.
  • Interesting details are included about the place and culture described.
  • The story goes beyond the superficial, to acknowledge both the positive and negative side of the situation described.
  • The story includes some sort of realization (a new way of seeing things, humorous insight) about your host culture, your home culture, the experience of living abroad -- or about human nature itself.

Our categories: Besides our Real Post Reports and Real School Reports, which are submitted directly from our site, we are seeking submissions and queries in the following categories:

Noteworthy Nomads. Do you know a fascinating expat? Perhaps an accompanying spouse running a successful business; an inspiring volunteer; or a refugee who has successfully built a new life? We’d love to publish their interview or profile. You can write it yourself or simply suggest a person we should feature.

Wandering Thoughts. This is a wide-open category: blog post reprints, short essays, or short memoir pieces that illuminate any aspect of expat life.

The Road Less Traveled. Essays by expats about unique cross-cultural experiences. Did you bond with local people over a feast of camel meat? Experience a terrible miscommunication at the open-air market? Finally understand a confusing cultural difference after attending a festival? We’d love to hear about it for this category.

Tales of Transition. These essays honestly describe how hard it is to establish a new life in a new place -- and hopefully, what you did that helped. Did you discover a new level of loneliness after moving as a single -- or a new kind of humility as an accompanying spouse? Did you blunder into cross-cultural misunderstandings when you first arrived? And how did you overcome these painful experiences, or perhaps simply learn to see the humor in them?

Tales of Imagination. These are fictional stories that provide some kind of insight into the expat experience. Our favorite stories build upon your own personal experiences abroad but take them into new territory, exploring themes such as belonging, relationships, and finding home in a new place.

Roaming Reality Bites. Talesmag arose out of the “Spouses’ Underground Newsletter,” and humor remains one of our favorite categories. This includes parody and satire about expat life, as well as hilarious cross-cultural mistakes. We don’t mind making gentle fun of surprising phenomena (like the rare and confounding cultures where people nod their heads up and down to say “no”) and being a bit rude, especially to houseguests who stay too long ...

What to do next: If you have a few ideas, but are not sure if they would be right for us, you are welcome to query us and ask. Send your submission in the body of an e-mail or as a Word or RTF attachment with an explanation in the e-mail.

What to expect: All submissions are reviewed by our editors, and if they fit our guidelines, they are sent to a volunteer Submissions Panel. We often work directly with our authors to revise and edit pieces before publication.

What we offer to writers: We, unfortunately, cannot provide financial compensation to our writers. After working with us to edit and publish a piece on Tales, several of our authors have received later compensation through awards and/or reprints in textbooks and anthologies. We are also happy to publish links to your blog, website, previous work, book, business, etc. along with your piece.

Send all queries/submissions to editor@talesmag.com. Thank you for your support!

Five stars on Amazon! Don't miss Talesmag's first book of essays, on cross-cultural food experiences from Mexico to Mongolia (plus recipes!)

Read More