In some ways it’s ridiculous to rank literary journals by the number of awards they’ve received, but it still can be useful for writers to figure out where to submit. I hope the list below helps all the writers who come here daily to find new literary journals to read and submit to.

The list below arranges literary journals in order of how many times they’ve had a story or special mention in the last eight years (2007 – 2014) in the Best American Short Stories (BASS). I award a certain number of points for the winners and a lesser number of points for every special mention. Every October I’ll update the page to reflect the new year.

Some notable literary journals shifting this year: Daily Lit made a huge splash onto the scene, garnering a number of special mentions. Michigan Quarterly Review also got a lot of love this year. Fifth Wednesday Journal continues to move up the ranks. Subtropics nearly doubled its total, earning both a winner and a good number of special mentions.

As far as the heavyweights, Granta received more points than any publication other than The New Yorker.

One Story, Narrative, and American Short Fiction were all shut out. 

There’s also a good handful of new literary journals added to the list this year, including the up-and-coming Little Star, old-timers like Denver Quarterly and new-comers like Red Rock Review and Alligator Juniper. If you notice a few literary magazines who received a special mention a few years back and aren’t on the list, that’s because I’ve only recently started adding literary magazines with only a single point.

If you’d like to cross-reference my list with another one, check out Cliff Garstang’s excellent list at Perpetual Folly which lists journals based upon winning or receiving a special mention in the Pushcart Prize. I think looking at both his list and mine and mentally averaging the totals is an excellent way to get a ballpark notion of the exclusivity or approachability of some literary magazines and literary reviews.

On statistics: statistics is a epistemic methodology prized by our modernistic, science-obsessed world as the primary way to Know Things. The cold hard facts trumps subjective knowledge, right? But I would argue that statistics gives us only a very limited view of the world, and one which necessarily skews “proper” knowledge.

Let me be less philosophical and more practical: Please don’t overestimate the important of the list below. The list below does not tell you whether a literary journal is good or not, it only tells you whether the BASS editors happened to like the flavor of stories in a literary journal. That, necessarily, is entirely subjective, and I encourage you to discover for yourself the type of fiction each literary magazine publishes, as well as explore the many excellent literary journals that don’t appear on this list.

I dislike some “high” level literary journals and really love “low” level literary journals. So while my tastes are not necessarily reflected by the list below, that’s good, because it will force you all, my lovely, devoted readers, to form your own judgments. For those of you already deep in the literary magazine world, I hope that this list is one aid among many to help you figure out where to submit and subscribe.

Best American Short Story Rankings:

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7 Comments

  • elizabeth winder noyes / January 22, 2013 at 6:07 am Reply

    Diving into the deep end of the pool after making handmade books for my own poems and artwork for years.

    Thanks for your work on this.

  • http://tinyurl.com/fredmode27750 / January 23, 2013 at 6:23 am Reply

    How did you end up getting the points to compose ““Ranking of Literary Journals | BookFox”?
    Thanks a lot ,Federico

  • Astounded / August 29, 2013 at 12:43 pm Reply
  • Jeff Limely / November 18, 2013 at 7:52 am Reply

    I like the Critical Pass Review poetry and fiction content at http://www.criticalpassreview.com.

  • Ben / January 26, 2014 at 11:29 pm Reply

    Great list. Downside? Always hard for new journals, like http://recommendedreading.tumblr.com, or budding guppies, like http://www.sequestrum.org, to be listed. A great list of the big-boys, however. Thanks

  • Leopold McGinnis / July 2, 2015 at 4:38 pm Reply

    This is an interesting list – must have taken some time to put together! The challenge is, I bet most of these journals get so many submissions the chances of submittors even getting a fair read could be daunting. In my mind I see the need for a few different lists (almost like spa packages, haha!): best places to submit if you want to be read (eg, ranked by readership, rather than awards), best places if you’re new to the game (highest ranked + highest publication ratio), etc. I could see that being very valuable to writers.

    • bookfox / July 2, 2015 at 7:21 pm Reply

      That’s a very interesting idea. I’m afraid most literary journals wouldn’t be very high on lists ranked by readership, but I like the idea. I know Duotrope has a factor of ones for new writers — they list ones who have the highest acceptance rates — but it’s a fantastic idea to combine that with the ranking. Alas — if only I had more time. And I imagine it might be difficult to come up with those statistics.

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