Ranking of Literary Journals

I’ve become disenchanted with the whole notion of ranking literary journals, but I don’t want to delete this page entirely and disappoint the many readers who come here daily to discover new literary journals to read and submit to. So instead, I’m radically changing the system. The list below arranges literary journals in order of how many times they’ve had a story or special mention in the last seven years (2007 – 2013) in the Best American Short Stories (BASS).

My hope is that this list will complement Cliff Garstand’s excellent list at Perpetual Folly which ranks journals according to Pushcart Prizes over the last decade. To some extent, I’m borrowing his methodology which gives a certain number of points to wins and a lesser number for special mentions (in BASS, these are the 100 notable stories listed at the end of each volume).

This list differs from Marc Watkins list, both in terms of years covered (his covers 2000 – 2007) and also the point system (the same number of points is awarded for special mentions as for appearing in the anthology).

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 journal is good or not, it only tells you whether the BASS editors happened to like the flavor of stories in a journal. That, necessarily, is entirely subjective, and I encourage you to discover for yourself the type of fiction each journal publishes, as well as explore the many excellent journals that don’t appear on this list.

I dislike some “high” level journals and really love “low” level 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 journal 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:

7 thoughts on “Ranking of Literary Journals

  1. elizabeth winder noyes says:

    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.

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

  3. Jeff Limely says:

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

  4. Ben says:

    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

  5. Amar says:

    Hi John,

    Any chance you might post the 2007-2014 rankings? The list is extremely helpful as it is, so please don’t take it down — I was just wondering if there are any plans to update it.

  6. Jack says:

    Driftwood Press is a pretty big one these days. (driftwoodpress.net)

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