Submission Guidelines

Vela publishes literary journalism, essays, memoir, and narrative nonfiction written by women and inspired by travel. “Inspired by” is a term we take quite loosely – you don’t have to have ridden a camel across the Gobi to fit our definition of travel. Rather, we want stories that have a strong sense of place and/or journey: stories that are informed by the kind of restless searching, discovery, and wonder inherent in travel. Many of our stories are international in focus, but we’re equally willing to sit with you in your backyard or your mom’s attic if the writing is surprising and original and the ideas are compelling. We love strong, unique, new voices and are committed to publishing emerging as well as more established writers.

We are not a “women’s magazine” and are not interested in essays written solely for a female audience, nor are we interested in commercial or service travel writing about, say, the world’s most dangerous jungles or its cheapest tequila bars, or how to go on a honeymoon to Vienna. Please read several of our stories to get a feel for what we publish before sending us your work.

Our feature stories are long-form and typically run from 2,000 to 6,000 words. We also accept submissions for blog posts: these include interviews with writers, editors, or publishers; book reviews; short essays about craft questions and/or the writing life; and insightful, analytical responses to topical issues related to the byline gap in publishing. Blog posts are approximately 1500 words. Submit completed work only; we do not accept queries. Simultaneous submissions are fine, but please notify us if your work is accepted elsewhere. If you haven’t received a response in four weeks, you can email sarah(at) to check the status of your submission.

Submit your work here. Include a short cover letter and bio.

Vela’s Nonfiction Contest

We’re thrilled to announce our first-ever nonfiction contest at Vela!

We’re looking for creative nonfiction, written by women, with a strong voice, a compelling narrative, and/or a powerful driving question. We’re interested in a wide range of essays and stories, including literary journalism, personal essays, memoir, and expository or experimental essays. We are not a “women’s magazine,” and are not looking for work that is written solely for a female audience.


March 31st, 2014


First place award: $500 and publication.

Two finalists: Publication.


Essays must be previously unpublished and no longer than 6,500 words. There is no entry fee. We understand that times are tough and we want all women writers, regardless of financial circumstances, to be able to submit. We do suggest a donation of $10 to help cover the costs of running Vela and the contest. Those who donate will receive a free, snazzy PDF entitled Women We Read This Year, an annotated compilation of the best feature and essay writing by women from 2013, drawn from our weekly Women We Read This Week column.

Please submit a cover letter that includes your name, email address, phone number, and mailing address. Do not include your name or any personal information in the body of your submission or in the file name of your document; submissions will be read blind. Please submit no more than one essay. Simultaneous submissions are fine if withdrawn upon acceptance elsewhere. The Vela nonfiction contest is open to women only. There is no age limit. All submissions will be considered for publication.

Send us your stories, and thank you for supporting Vela!



Michelle Orange is the author of This Is Run­ning For Your Life: Essays. Her writing has appeared in Harper’sMcSweeney’sThe NationBook­fo­rumthe Vir­ginia Quar­terly Review, the New York Times, Slate, the Vil­lage Voice, and other publications. She lives in New York City.


  1. Is this open to people outside of Canada and the USA?

  2. I love this!! I have to get started!!