This list ranks literary magazines by how often their short stories have appeared in the Best American Short Stories

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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). 

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The list below arranges literary journals in order of how many times they’ve had a short story or special mention in the last ten years (2007 – 2016) 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.

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ZYZZYVA was the biggest mover in 2016. The west coast literary journal run out of San Francisco, which a few years ago shifted from Howard Junker’s editorship to Laura Cogan’s, went buck wild this year, with multiple stories reprinted and a whole slew of stories earning a special mention at the back of the anthology. Other than The New Yorker, no other journal earned as much recognition in BASS.

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In its new slot, ZYZZYVA is just below Kenyon Review and One Story, and just above Virginia Quarterly Review and Iowa Review. It formerly had 12 points, and now it has 26.

The surge of mentioned stories might be due to the fact that ZYZZYVA used to limit submissions to writers on the West coast, and now it has broadened its focus to solicit submissions regardless of location. Whatever the case, it’s nice to see that under Cogan’s leadership the journal is flourishing.

New England Review did well also, and so did One Story, recovering from a slump a year ago when it got no stories mentioned at all.

Iowa Review also had a stellar year, with stories reprinted and multiple special mentions.

There were eight newcomers added to this year’s list, all of them at the bottom of the page. Some of the journals were new, and some have been around quite a well and only now are being recognized by BASS.



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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 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.

Best Literary Magazines Rankings:

1.  The New Yorker 234
2.  Tin House 111
3.  Ploughshares 67
4.  Granta 51
5.  Glimmer Train 50
6. New England Review 45
7. Harper’s Magazine   42
8. McSweeney’s Quarterly 41
9. Atlantic Monthly 39
  Paris Review  39
10. Zoetrope All-Story  33
American Short Fiction  33
11. The Southern Review  32
12.  One Story   31
13.  The Kenyon Review   27
14. ZYZZYVA 26
15.  Virginia Quarterly Review   25
16. The Iowa Review   23
17.  AGNI   21
  Narrative Magazine  21
18.  Antioch Review  20
  Conjunctions   20
19.  Yale Review   17
  Ecotone  17
  The Missouri Review   17
20.  Alaska Quarterly Review  16
21.  Subtropics  15
22. A Public Space   14
  Five Points   14
23.  Georgia Review   13
Prairie Schooner  13
24. Epoch  12
Michigan Quarterly Review  12
25. Santa Monica Review   11
  The Cincinnati Review   11
  Harvard Review  11
26. West Branch 10
  StoryQuarterly  10
  Colorado Review  10
27. Idaho Review   9
Boulevard   9
  Witness  9
28. Oxford American  8
  The Gettysburg Review   8
Crazyhorse   8
  The Normal School 8
29. Black Warrior Review   7
Fifth Wednesday Journal  7
30. Mississippi Review   6
  The Sewanee Review   6
  Shenandoah   6
  The Sun  6
  Hobart  6
  Threepenny Review   6
  Image  6
  New Ohio Review 6
31. Fiction 5
  TriQuarterly  5
  Gulf Coast  5
  Esquire  5
  Southwest Review 5
  Byliner  5
32.  Commentary  4
  Joyland Magazine 4
  Orion 4
  Daily Lit 4
  Callaloo  4
  Bellevue Literary Review  4
  Massachusetts Review  4
33. American Scholar 3
  Meridian 3
  Copper Nickel 3
  BOMB 3
  Freeman’s 3
  Commonweal  3
  The Common 3
  E-Flux Journal 3
  Nimrod 3
34. Ninth Letter 2
  Crab Orchard Review  2
  New Letters  2
  Confrontation  2
  Tampa Review   2
  N+1 2
  Pembroke Magazine 2
  Cimarron Review  2
  Chicago Quarterly Review 2
35. Hayden’s Ferry Review  1
  The Literarian  1
  Greensboro Review  1
  Carolina Quarterly  1
  Coffin Factory  1
  Little Star  1
  Red Rock Review  1
  Cutbank  1
  Denver Quarterly  1
  Alligator Juniper  1
  Salamander  1
  Unstuck  1
  Able Muse  1
  The Pinch 1
  Event  1
  Southampton Review  1
  Sou’wester  1
  Consequence  1
  December  1
  Isthmus  1
  Blackbird  1
  Hudson Review  1
  New South  1
  Sonora Review  1
  Epiphany 1
  New Madrid 1
  Pleiades 1
  Redivider 1
  Apple Valley Review 1
  Literary Review 1
  Southern Humanities Review 1
  Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet  1
  Western Humanities Review  1

 

22 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.

  • Kim Farleigh / September 22, 2015 at 6:06 pm Reply

    Hi
    Be careful: Southwest Review takes your money but doesn’t let you submit.

  • Steven / October 29, 2015 at 10:39 pm Reply

    Thanks so much for compiling this list. What do you mean when you say, “One Story, Narrative, and American Short Fiction were all shut out.” ?

    • Bookfox / November 17, 2015 at 3:57 am Reply

      It means one of their stories did not receive a special mention or appear in the BASS collection.

  • Marion de Booy Wentzien / November 3, 2015 at 6:04 am Reply

    This is just great. Thanks for putting it together.

  • Lisa D. Stewart / November 4, 2015 at 8:02 pm Reply

    I cannot tell what date the article above was posted. Please advise.

    • Bookfox / November 17, 2015 at 3:55 am Reply

      It is updated every year to reflect the newest edition of Best American Short Stories.

  • Christopher / June 22, 2016 at 9:54 am Reply

    Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing.
    Do you have any suggestions for newbie blog writers?
    I’d certainly appreciate it.

    • Bookfox / June 22, 2016 at 2:24 pm Reply

      I’m going to create a post in the next few months that will teach writers how to blog! Look forward to it.

  • Bobby / August 10, 2016 at 2:38 am Reply

    Can anyone give me advice on the journal Red Rock Review? Is it a solid respectful journal? Or just a decent low
    caliber one at best. I’m a poet and I’m just curious. Comments appreciated. Thank you.

  • Sally Anderson / September 8, 2016 at 12:49 pm Reply

    The NY Literary Magazine is a good one too. It’s free to submit poetry and short story submissions to them. They publish print and digital Anthologies and run monthly free to enter poetry contests as well.

  • Bob Loblaw / September 21, 2016 at 9:56 pm Reply

    1. Thank you for compiling this, it is far and away the most useful collection of such publications to rank in the top two of my Google search tonight. The pseudoscientific methodology gave merit to a subject that is so often drowned in the over-personalized ways that such subjective matters are measured.

    2. It’s going to sound like I’m more serious/concerned than I am with this comment, but I think it’s fair to mention that this measurement is not entirely statistical, and so I think it is fair that the (admittedly fair) statement on the importance of statistical measurements is out of place here. Because the formula is based on a point-system that is original (and not inherent to the database), it is not a truly statistical measurement.

    3. I cannot emphasize enough how aware I am of the pointlessness and general “who cares”ness of this comment.

    4. This is anonymous, so point #3 is largely irrelevant.

    5. Fish.

  • Johnny Cho / November 16, 2016 at 3:47 pm Reply

    Thanks so much for putting this together. By the way, your list jumps from #32 (Commentary) to #28 (American Scholar).

    • Bookfox / November 16, 2016 at 7:35 pm Reply

      Thank you! Fixed now.

  • Michelle / April 30, 2017 at 12:14 pm Reply

    Does the author of this website have a book published? Thanks for putting together all the great info.

    • Bookfox / April 30, 2017 at 5:27 pm Reply

      Hi Michelle,

      If you look at the “About Me” at the top of the page, you’ll see that I have a book of short stories coming out in November with Press 53, and I’m currently searching for a publisher for my novel.

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