This list ranks literary magazines by how often their short stories have appeared in the Best American Short Stories.
In some ways it’s ridiculous to rank literary magazines by the number of awards they’ve received, but it still can be useful for writers to figure out where to submit. (If you’re looking for nonfiction or essay rankings, go to my Ranking of Literary Nonfiction Markets).
The list below arranges literary journals in order of how many times they’ve had a short story or special mention in the last nine years (2007 – 2015) 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.
This year, edited by T.C. Boyle, offered a wide array of literary journals. Few journals in the top thirty made a significant move; the biggest additions came in the number of literary magazines making their first appearance with a single special mention.
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.
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.
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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 Best American Short Story 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 Best American Short Story list is one aid among many to help you figure out where to submit and subscribe.
I have a few other lists that might also be helpful to writers:
- Ranking of Literary Nonfiction Markets
- Top 20 Places to Submit Flash Fiction
- Journals Accepting Novellas
Best Literary Magazines Rankings: