From formally published essay compilations to DIY zines and independent journals, the narrative collection is reclaiming its space in the world of print publication. Issue by issue these collections are renouncing content rules and editorial guidelines set in place by gatekeepers of more mainstream publications, who reinforce systems of unequal representation by creating strict barriers of entry.

Things to Consider

  • Publication Medium: Will this be a compiled book of essays or a small but mighty bi-annual journal or monthly zine?
  • Modes of Expression: What types of stories will you publish– fiction, nonfiction, poems, photography, art, recipes?
  • Printing: How will you print the physical copy of your publication?
  • Submission Rules: Will there be guidelines that dictate the type of submissions you receive and publish and what types of voices you want to feature?
  • Theme: Will the publication have a revolving theme that contributors shape their stories around?
  • Compensation: Do you plan to compensate your contributors now or even in the future?
  • Editors: Who decides what submissions will be chosen for publication and what is the system upon which these decisions are based?
  • Marketing: How will you find voices to contribute, how will you grow your readership?
  • Distribution: Where will your publication be distributed? Will you sell it online or at local bookstores, what businesses and organizations are in your network of support who could act as potential distributors?


  • Storytellers are given the freedom to express themselves for themselves in whatever medium feels most authentic to their story
  • Storytellers are not subject to the content restrictions of formal publications that might censor and silence voices to make stories appropriate for a general readership
  • Editors of narrative collections create the parameters for submission and have the power to highlight and elevate voices of communities that might normally be barred from publication because of race, gender, class, geography, values, level of education, etc.
  • Stories can take shape in any number of forms of expression from written word to visual art
  • There is potential for the forging of strong community partnerships and symbiotic relationships between the publishers and distributors that benefit both by sharing followers and customers
  • Avoids gatekeepers of the mainstream publishing world and requires less social capital or high-level connections to get off the ground



  • The cost and labor of publication fall on the creators of the collection. While finding outside funding is possible and the eventual sale of issues will help to cover printing and shipping costs, initial costs will have to be paid upfront and out of pocket.
  • To be sustainable, creators need to have a large network of support who can provide submissions, readership, distribution opportunities
  • Depending on the size of the publication, there will be a limit to the voices that can be featured

“Who gets to talk and write about food? Who has access to the spaces that define what kind of food story is meaningful? We wanted to breakdown the gatekeepers of places that play a role in the way people think about food.”

Emeran Irby, Dinner Bell Magazine

Narrative Collections to Explore

Name Description Link
Dill Magazine Dill is a publication that honors the foodways of Asia and celebrates those who make a living sustaining the culinary traditions of the region
Dinner Bell Mag An alternative (weird) food writing publication that serves as a creative space for anyone to experiment with how they write about food outside of traditional food writing frameworks
Eaten Magazine Food history magazine created by journalists, historians, gastronomes featuring recipes and stories from history
For the Culture A magazine celebrating Black women in food and wine featuring stories of  Black women throughout the diaspora, written by Black women and photographed and illustrated by Black women.
Gastropolis: Food and New York City Collection of essays about food in NYC, exploring the use of Food voice to understand the narrator and the world around them
Gravy Journal and online publication featuring stories of Southern Foodways
Grlsquash Biannual journal about the intersections among food, art, and culture featuring womxn, femmes, qtbipoc, trans, and genderqueer folks
Jarry Mag Biannual print magazine that brings together a community of queer chefs, eaters, makers, writers, photographers, artists, and industry influencers to celebrate its accomplishments and deepen its conversations.
Milky Mag Annual print magazine and website about creative women and food. Featuring chefs and business owners in the food industry
Mouthfeel Magazine Queer foodie Zine
Plantain Papers Plantain Papers is an independent yearly printed journal. Born in New York. Made in London. Connecting the diaspora worldwide. Plantain Papers isn’t a cookbook. Plantain Papers is a literary ode to plantain – a delicious fruit best-served cooked-and the people that eat it.
Put an Egg on It Print magazine about food, cooking and the communal joys of eating with friends and family. The magazine features personal essays, cooking tips, photo essays of dinner parties and special art projects
Through the Kitchen Window: Women Explore the intimate meanings of food and cooking Collection of narratives and essays by women writers exploring food and cooking as a form of expression and power and not a restricted gender role
Toothache Magazine Print magazine of stories by chefs and members of the service industry to challenge the notion that most people who write about food do not work in food
Whetstone Magazine Seasonal print journal on global food cultures and origins with the mission of championing food to expand human empathy
You and I Eat the Same Collection of written food stories from chefs, makers, business owners, farmers all over the world. Compiled by MAD in an effort to show that food has the power to unite people and expose similarities