Evaluating online literary magazines can be tough. According to Duotrope, there are thousands out there and more popping up every day. It’s just not that difficult to throw up a website and start publishing friends.
But the online literary journals below raise the bar far higher. They have made publishing online not just a vehicle for disseminating information, but used the best parts of the internet to create a legitimate art form.
The best way to evaluate a online literary magazine is to read a few of the stories. They’re all available, so why not? If they exclusively publish sestinas about the Iraq war and your story is about incest in a Midwestern family, it’s just not a good fit.
As they say, it’s not you, it’s just your writing. (As if you could ever separate those things).
In any case, I have researched and found the best 30 online magazines, journals and quarterlies that publish exclusively online.
Some of the best online literary magazines listed below are currently taking submissions, will compensate their writers and have ongoing writing contest.
Also, when it comes to the differences between microfiction, flash fiction, short stories, and novellas, each of the online magazines listed below have length requirements (they tend to prefer shorter fiction, but some allow for longer pieces as well).
Literary Juice is one of my favorite literary magazines! Founded in 2011 by Sara Rajan, this magazine is open to all types of prose. They accept flash fiction under 1,000 words, fiction with a max of 2,500 words and pulp writings, which are stories that are exactly 25 words; no more and no less.
Passing Through is a unique literary journal composed of artwork and fiction. They accept flash writings that are fiction, nonfiction and poetry with a max of 350 words. This journal is a themed journal, meaning all writings should be produced around a journey; figuratively or literally. “Passing Through” does publish only once a year.
Moonglasses Magazine is a new and eccentric literary magazine founded in 2015 by college students. Moonglasses publishes monthly and accepts fiction and nonfiction stories up to 2,500 words and flash-writings (fiction and nonfiction) under 600 words. They also have two fun categories of writing called between the couch cushions and things we wrote when we had acne.
Mistake House was named after an architect’s attempt to create a new and original type of cottage. This eclectic and awesome journal features fiction, poetry and visual art. Fictional stories submitted should be no more than 5,000 words and should only consist of literary fiction. They won’t accept romance, fan-fiction, noir, fantasy or science fiction.
Waccamaw is a journal of contemporary literature that encourages diversity, vulnerability and sincerity. Publishing twice a year, Waccamaw accepts 3-5 poems, essays, short stories (prose) that are under 7,500 words.
The Great American Literary Magazine is an online literary magazine based out of southern California and is a direct descendant of the Great American Novel. Publishing four times a year, they accept fictional prose with no more than 3,000 words and no more than 5 poems. Besides publishing poems they also nominate submitted writings for The Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net contest.
Founded in 2012, Ostrich Review is an online journal of poetry, storytelling and art. They accept fictional short stories under 30 pages, 3-5 poems and are currently taking blog content for their Tuesday grab bag (creative literary content) and/or Fifty word Friday (book reviews of any kind under 50 words).
Pinball is a forward-thinking literary magazine that publishes short fiction, nonfiction prose, comics, art, essays and interviews. Unlike most online literary magazines I’ve come across, Pinball compensates writers for their published works. They pay $25 for stories and essays, and $15 for flash/micro story/essays.
9. Milk Journal
Milk Journal is a biannual online literary magazine for all writers, established or emerging. Milk strives to empower the voices of people from all different walks of life. They accept up to 5 poems, flash fiction with a minimum of 250 words, fiction short stories with a max of 5,000 words, reviews and visual art. They are currently accepting submissions for their summer issue until June 30th.
Established in 2014, The Harpoon Review publishes monthly and accepts submissions on a rolling basis. They accept up to 4 poems, 2 prose and short fiction with a max of 1500 words.
The Gravity of the Thing is an online literary magazine that accepts short stories (fiction or creative nonfiction and self contained excerpts) under 3000 words, flash fiction or nonfiction under 500 words, 3 poems with a combined word count less than 500 and up to 5, six word stories. They are currently taking submissions for their summer issue until July 31st.
Established in 2006 in Washington, DC, Lines+Stars welcomes a variety of short prose and poems. They accept 3-5 poems and around 4,000 word prose. Occasionally they will accept 800-1000 word book reviews of new poetry or short fiction collections.
Chantwood is a neat literary magazine. They follow a blind selection process, meaning when you submit your work you never use your name. Instead, you use your email address and can only be judged only by the words you write. They accept fiction (of any genre) between 100-7500 words and 1 -2 pages of poetry (3-5 poems).
Juxtaprose is another one of my favorite online literary magazines (the website layout looks like an actual magazine). They accept fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry art and photography. Fiction and creative nonfiction stories must be between 500-5,000 words.
Bodega Magazine calls themselves a literary cornerstore. They publish prose (fiction and nonfiction up to 3000 words) and poetry (up to 5 poems in a single document), the first Monday of every month. Currently accepting submissions.
16. Midway Journal
Midway Journal is an online literary journal named after the midway point between St. Paul and Minneapolis. The journal is not a themed journal but it does have specifics they are looking for in each writing category. They accept 3-5 poems, 1 fiction prose, 2 flash fiction and 1 creative nonfiction. Midway journal also hosts a literary contest called -1000 Below: Flash Prose and Poetry Contest. The deadline for the contest is May 31st and they are currently accepting submissions for the journal.
Failbetter publishes original fiction short stories, poetry, visual art and interviews with leading writers. They accept submissions through email and snail mail.
Currently taking submissions for their next issue. A-minor magazine accepts short fiction prose between 1000-4000 words, flash fiction prose between 100 -1000 words and 3-5 poems. When submitting fiction, A-minor is looking for quirky, experimental and surreal.
19. Per Contra
Per Contra is an international journal of the arts, literature and ideas. In this online journal you can find ideas of individual liberty, freedom of expression and independence expressed through poetry, fiction and nonfiction short stories. They accept short fiction (fiction short stories or flash fiction) up to 4500 words.
20. Cheap Pop
Cheap Pop is the perfect place to unleash your inner creativity! All they are asking is that you submit your best flash fiction or microfiction that is under 500 words. They post new stories on their website every Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Decomp is a literary magazine founded in 2004. Formally known as Decomposition magazine, Decomp publishes prose, poetry, art, book reviews. memoirs and journalistic nonfiction. They accept prose/flash fiction with a maximum of 4,000 words. Although you are allowed to submit fiction, they don’t want genres like horror, erotica, romance or science fiction.
Fiction Southeast is a literary journal dedicated to all things short fiction. Besides being platform to submit and display your stories (Short fiction with 1,500 words or less and a fee 0f $2), Fiction Southeast has many helpful resources for writers. They have informative articles in reference to writing short fiction, editing services, and multiple interview series with authors, editors and agents.
Fiction Southeast also has three writing contest: Hell’s Belles short Fiction Prize (Taking submissions until October 1st), The Fiction Southeast editors’ choice (Taking submissions until July 1st) and The Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Prize.
I accidentally found the artsy literary journal Waxwing while searching for a completely different magazine. Waxwing is an online literary magazine that promotes “cultural diversity of contemporary American Literature, alongside international voices in translation.” They accept poetry, fiction, nonfiction and translations from all ethnic and religious backgrounds, with the goal broadcasting the voices of all people. Publishing only three issues a year, Waxwing requires short story writers to submit a maximum of 3 stories or 3 micro stories.
Founded in October of 1996, Eclectica is one of the longest running and consistent online literary magazine. They accept a wide variety of writings. For example short fiction, nonfiction, humor, travel, novellas and word poem challenges. Short fiction and nonfiction prose needs to be under 20,00 words. Anything over 20,000 words would be categorized as a novella. Eclectica does charge $2 to $4 dollars per submission.
25. Lunch Ticket
Founded in 2012, the literary journal Lunch Ticket is a production of Antioch University and their MFA community. They publish two issues a year (June and December) and accept fiction, creative nonfiction, flash prose, poetry and young adult (13+) etc. Lunch ticket also host two contest: The Diana Woods Memorial award in creative nonfiction and The Gabo prize for literature in translations and Multi-lingual texts.
Established in 2003 by Dave Clapper, Smokelong Quarterly is an online literary magazine dedicated to flash fiction. They accept flash fiction with a word max of 1000 and submissions are open year round. Besides their normal submissions, they have a series called Global flash series. Global flash series calls for short stories under 600 words in French, Spanish, Danish and German. Submissions for Global Flash open June 1st.
27. Literary Orphan
Literary Orphan is a mood-driven magazine and not a style-driven magazine. They are looking for pieces of work that leave you haunted and feeling nostalgic. They publish fiction (micro, flash and short story) under 2,000 words and creative nonfiction (under 5,000 words) for their blog. They also accept both fiction (under 3,000 words) and poetry (max 3 poems) from teenagers under the age of 19.
Every Day Fiction is an interactive literary magazine that allows readers to interact with the contributing writers. Readers may leave comments under posted stories and rate how much they liked the story. They accept short (flash) fiction up to 1,00 words of any genre (nothing vulgar, violent or over sexualized). Every day Fiction does compensate their writers and offer $3 dollars for each published piece of writing through Paypal.
29. 100 Word Story
Another favorite of mine, 100 Words Story challenges writers to come up with a story with exactly 100 words. You can write a short story, an essay, a memoir or a prose poem. Also, for all you creative writers who need a little inspiration like myself, word story provides a monthly photo prompt, to get those creative juices flowing.
Brevity magazine has been around for nearly two decades, publishing writings from both emerging and well-known writers. Brevity has also had the privilege of publishing the works from three Pulitzer Prize finalist and Pushcart winners. Some of the pieces published in Brevity Magazine have made their way into writing text books like the Best Creative Nonfiction. Submissions for Brevity include flash nonfiction essays of 750 words or less, book reviews and craft essays. Authors are paid $45 for essays and craft essays.
I hope you find the best online literary magazine that suits your writing.