Whether you are a fiction fanatic or a pure poet, there is a literary magazine out there for you! Below are the top 50 literary magazines that are ready to showcase your story.
Based on the search tool SimilarWeb, I averaged out the traffic visits of each website from the last three months and ranked them according to the number of monthly visitors each literary journal receives.
While the numbers aren’t precisely accurate (SimilarWeb estimates traffic, rather than giving precise numbers), the numbers are useful for comparison purposes.
In other words, the literary magazines below likely fall in this order of website traffic, even if the numbers of each website are slightly off. In my experience, and comparing these numbers to Bookfox stats, SimilarWeb estimates a little high. Still, these are useful ballpark figures.
What does website traffic mean? You could interpret these numbers in a variety of ways.
1. Literary Magazines with more website traffic are more important.
Well, yes and no. It’s true that website traffic is one important measure of a literary magazine, but it’s certainly not the only one.
1. Your personal evaluation of the journal is important (do you like the stories they publish?).
2. Look over authors they’ve published before (how many of them have you heard of? How many of them have published well-regarded books?).
3. Check out the Bookfox rankings of literary journals, listed according to how many times they’ve appeared in the Best American Short Stories. This will give you a sense of how often the stories published by a magazine get chosen by a team of editors as the best of the year.
2. Literary Magazines with more traffic will get me more readers.
It depends. McSweeney’s has an online humor column and a print magazine. If you get published in the print magazine, McSweeney’s Quarterly, these website numbers won’t translate to reader numbers. If you get published in the online publication, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, then these numbers will be relevant.
So these numbers are more important for online publication than for print publication, but they do tell you something about the relative stature of print literary magazine and the strength of its reputation among other writers.
3. It’s better for my career to publish in a literary journal with higher numbers.
Maybe. Sometimes publishing in a “small” literary magazine will give you a boost because you will be discovered, or nominated for a Pushcart. And higher website traffic doesn’t always equate to excellent reputation. Consult some other rankings rather than relying on this one alone.
Most of these journals are known for their fiction and poetry, while others specialize in other genres, including graphic art, music, and photography. Trust me when I say that these top 50 literary journals will show you the way to the publisher that is right for you.
Top 50 Literary Magazines:
1. The New Yorker – 26,700,000 visitors monthly
The New Yorker doesn’t exactly fit inside the category of small literary magazine, but I included it in this list for reference purposes. It’s just nice to see how it compares to the literary magazines below. Obviously, it towers above the rest, but it has many lively components of nonfiction to compliment its creative writing offerings.
2. Paris Review – 1,073,000 visitors monthly
It would be interesting to see how much of this traffic comes from people reading the interviews. Because the author interviews are one of the best parts of Paris Review, and all of them are online. The Paris Review was established in 1953.
3. McSweeney’s Quarterly – 923,000 visitors monthly
Not only does McSweeney’s operate a daily website filled with awesome humor, but they also publish Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, the Believer, and an ever-growing selection of books under various imprints. Here you can find the submission guidelines for books, the web, and the Quarterly. For books, McSweeney’s will only accept electronic manuscripts, but there are no guidelines for length.
4. Harper’s Magazine – 833,000 visitors monthly
Harper’s Magazine is considered to be the oldest general-interest magazine in America. “It explores the issues that drive our national conversation, through long-form narrative journalism and essays.” Harper’s will gladly accept the following categories: fiction, non-fiction, art, illustrations, and photography. Really, submit to Harper’s only if you have an agent. They don’t exactly comb through the slush looking for gems.
5. Bomb – 217,000 visitors monthly
BOMB is known for their author interviews, which are fantastic, but they are much more than that. They’re a multi-media publishing house that creates and preserves artist-generated content, from artists’ essays to new literature. BOMB includes a quarterly print magazine, a daily online publication, and a digital archive of its previously published content from 1981 onward. Don’t forget the annual literary contest, which alternates between fiction and poetry each year.
6. The American Scholar – 207,000 visitors monthly
The American Scholar used to accept submissions of poetry, book reviews, and fiction (and send out very nice personalized rejections) but no longer. Now they are looking for nonfiction alone, no longer than 6,000 words. The American Scholar is a quarterly magazine of essays, fiction, poetry, and articles covering public affairs, literature, science, history, and culture.
7. Granta – 130,000 visitors monthly
Granta magazine was founded in 1889 by students at Cambridge University as The Granta, a periodical of student politics and literary enterprise. The magazine has published the work of writers like A.A. Milne, Stevie Smith, and Sylvia Plath. Granta is currently accepting fiction, non-fiction, and artwork (including photography) for both their print and online editions. They do not have a set length, but most of their submissions are between 3,000-6,000 words.
8. Pen America – 105,000 visitors monthly
So this number measures everyone interested in PEN America and their work helping imprisoned and persecuted writers across the globe. Their magazine, obviously, receives less attention than the number above, but it is excellent. Each year, with the help of its partners and supporters, PEN confers more than $150,000 to writers in the fields of fiction, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, translation, drama, or poetry.
9. The Sun – 103,000 visitors monthly
I love The Sun. It’s such a beautiful magazine with such reliably excellent work. It never fails to move me. It’s also one of the magazines on this list that is less elitist and more populist, reaching a wide variety of general readers. The Sun publishes essays, interviews, fiction, and poetry. They tend to favor personal writing, but they’re also looking for provocative pieces on political and cultural issues. They’re open to just about anything.
10. Virginia Quarterly Review – 93,000 visitors monthly
Virginia Quarterly Review, which is slowly recovering after the Kevin Morrissey suicide and accusations of bullying against the former editor, has a robust global reporting team, and publishes excellent fiction. VQR publishes in the following genres: poetry, short fiction, nonfiction, and nonfiction pitches.
11. Narrative Magazine – 92,000 visitors monthly
Narrative Magazine, an online literary journal, is legendary inside the literary community for its exorbitant fees, charging $20 per submission and $5,000 for book editing. They publish a great deal of good material from excellent authors, but if you’re a beginning author, stay far, far away. They will take all your money and funnel it elsewhere.
12. Oxford American – 88,000 visitors monthly
Oxford American publishes creative work set or related to the American South. It’s won 4 National Magazine awards, and regularly publishes excellent work.
13. Ploughshares – 73,000 visitors monthly
Ploughshares has a wonderful literary blog, with many guest posters, and that’s probably where the majority of this traffic comes from. Although on rankings of literary journals, Ploughshares regularly appears at the top, and it publishes well renown authors, so it’s an excellent journal.
14. Tin House – 68,000 visitors monthly
With an array of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, Tin House is always on the hunt for an undiscovered writer. Some of the Tin House issues are based on creative themes that are waiting to be contributed with talent-infused stories. Writers are encouraged to submit one story or essay (10,000-word limit), or up to five poems at a time.
15. The Kenyon Review – 50,000 visitors monthly
The Kenyon Review was founded in 1939 and is still flourishing, especially their quarterly online issue, which publishes fiction and poetry. They consider submissions in the following categories: short fiction and essays (up to 7,500 words), poetry (up to 6 poems), plays (up to 30 pages), excerpts (up to 30 pages) from larger works, and translations of poetry and short prose. Be sure to also check out the following links for their Short Fiction Contest and The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers.
16. J Journal – 43,000 visitors monthly
J Journal is seeking new writing – fiction, creative nonfiction (1st person narrative, personal essay, memoir) and poetry – that examines questions of justice. Although they find that their most powerful pieces relate particularly to the justice theme, they also welcome work that speaks directly of crime, criminal justice, law and law enforcement. As a literary project, however, J Journal is less likely to publish straightforward genre fiction.
17. One Story – 43,000 visitors monthly
One Story is one of the best known literary magazines, sending out a single short story every three weeks. Because of their format, they can only accept stories between 3,000 and 8,000 words. Their strength is their consistency — I’ve never read a bad story from them.
18. Missouri Review – 37,000 visitors monthly
The Missouri Review, founded in 1978, is one of the most highly-regarded literary magazines in the United States. The Missouri Review invites submissions in the following categories: fiction, poetry, and nonfiction (essay). Writers are also encouraged to submit works in the following contests: The Gerald T. Perkoff Prize (poetry), The William Peden Prize (fiction), and The Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize (fiction, poetry, and essay).
19. Shenandoah – 23,000 visitors monthly
Shenandoah is currently publishing two completely new online issues a year and is open for submissions of previously unpublished work in the areas of poetry, short stories, short short stories, creative nonfiction, interviews, and reviews. They recommend queries concerning reviews and interviews. They will also consider work simultaneously submitted to another journal.
20. Threepenny Review – 23,000 visitors monthly
The Threepenny Review has an unusual format, like a newspaper, unlike many of magazine-shaped literary publications on this list. Currently, The Threepenny Review is paying $400 per story or article, $200 per poem or Table Talk piece. The only two ways to submit work are through the mail and via their online system. They strongly recommend that you stay within the length limits. Critical articles should be about 1200 to 2500 words, Table Talk items 1000 words or less, stories and memoirs 4000 words or less, and poetry 100 lines or less. Please note that they do not read submissions during the second half of the year (July through December).
21. Boulevard – 20,000 visitors monthly
Boulevard’s mission is to publish a diversity of writers in contemporary fiction and poetry as well as essays on the arts and culture. They target both creative and critical work that is to be presented in a intricate but cohesive storyline. Boulevard strives to publish only the finest in fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. They prefer to publish writers who are less experienced, yet carry promise.
22. Glimmer Train – 20,000 monthly
Glimmer Train is a bit too contest-centric for my taste. They cater to beginning writers who are willing to fork over $20 to get the feather in their cap of a “Finalist” mention, but since there are 1-2 contests a month, and 20 finalists for each contest, they are handing out hundreds upon hundreds of finalists mentions a year in order to get writers to give them money. Even with all that said, they publish wonderful authors, have a great magazine, and regularly get mentioned in the Best of the Year anthologies, such as the Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, New Stories from the Midwest, the O. Henry Prize Stories, New Stories from the South, Best of the West, New Stories from the Southwest, Best American Short Stories, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading.
23. Zoetrope All-Story – 20,000 visitors monthly
Zoetrope All-Story is best known for its fiction contest that promises film agents will consider optioning the winning story. Unfortunately, the winning story doesn’t even appear in the magazine, and only appears online. Zoetrope has received the National Magazine Award for Fiction, while publishing today’s most promising writers, including: David Mamet, Elizabeth McCracken, and Margaret Atwood. They consider unsolicited submissions of short stories and one-act plays no longer than 7,000 words.
24. Iowa Review – 18,000 visitors monthly
Despite pushing the envelope with submission fees ($4 — the extra dollar is supposed to convince you of their superiority over journals that charge $3), The Iowa Review publishes short stories, flash fiction, graphic novels, self-contained novel excerpts, and plays; poetry of all kinds; and all manner of creative nonfiction, including personal essays, lyric essays, memoirs, and literary journalism.
25. Michigan Quarterly Review – 18,000 visitors monthly
The Michigan Quarterly Review is a journal of the arts and culture that seeks to collaborate the best of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction with outstanding critical essays on literary, cultural, social, and political matters. MQR considers submissions year round for their print journal. They typically run short stories and essays that are a minimum of 1,500 words and a maximum of 7,000 words.
26. Georgia Review – 15,000 visitors monthly
Established in 1947 at the University of Georgia, The Georgia Review has become one of America’s most highly regarded journals of arts and letters. “Each quarterly issue offers a diverse, thoughtfully orchestrated gathering of short stories, general-interest essays, poems, reviews, and visual art.” The 2017 submission period will be from 1 April 2017 – 15 May 2017. They do not consider unsolicited manuscripts between 15 May and 15 August.
27. Image – 15,000 visitors monthly
Image focuses on faith, broadly considered. They publish poetry or essays that engage in spirituality, examination of religion, or explores faith. They recently opened up to online submissions, but they do accept simultaneous submissions.
28. Prairie Schooner – 13,500 visitors monthly
Don’t miss these three features at Prairie Schooner: their excellent blog, with commentary on all matters literary, their audio feature, with podcast episodes full of interviews and their vault of stories and poetry from their multi-decades of publication. They accept online submissions year-round except for the summer months.
29. Akashic Books – 13,000 visitors monthly
Akashic Books is a Brooklyn-based independent company dedicated to publishing urban literary fiction and political nonfiction by authors who are either ignored by the mainstream, or who have no interest in working within the ever-consolidating ranks of the major corporate publishers. Submissions for their Mondays Are Murder, Terrible Twosdays, Duppy Thursday, and Sports & Justice web series are currently open.
30. American Short Fiction – 13,000 visitors monthly
American Short Fiction seeks short fiction by some of the finest writers working in contemporary literature, whether they are established, or emerging authors. In addition to its triannual print magazine, American Short Fiction also publishes stories (under 2000 words) online. They have separate guidelines for their Short Story Contests and regular submissions.
31. A Public Space – 13,000 visitors monthly
Founded in 2006, A Public Space is an independent magazine of literature and culture. They accept unsolicited submissions, and there are no word or poem limits. Simultaneous submissions are allowed. Novel excerpts and novellas are also welcome.
32. TriQuarterly – 13,000 visitors monthly
TriQuarterly had its funding slashed a few years ago and has moved online, where it is enjoying a robust revival. It’s the literary magazine of Northwestern University and of the MA/MFA in Creative Writing program. Interviews, craft essays, and other features are accepted weekly throughout the year. TQ encourages submissions of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, short drama, video essays, and hybrid work from established as well as emerging writers.
33. Colorado Review – 12,500 visitors monthly
Colorado Review has a great fiction contest — the Nelligan Prize, with a $2,000 award — and also a prestigious poetry contest. Their blog is updated semi-regularly, and they’re a great publication.
34. Conjunctions – 12,000 visitors monthly
Conjunctions tends to prefer experimental fiction, fiction that is pushing the boundaries of form, content, and language. They are now accepting submissions for their Fall 2016 issue, Conjunctions:67, Other Aliens, a collection literary science and speculative fiction works, including: innovative short stories, poetry, and essays that explore the unfamiliar, the eccentric, and the things that do not belong.
35. Crazyhorse – 12,000 visitors monthly
Crazyhorse welcomes general submissions of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from September 1st through May 31st, with the exception of the month of January, during which they only accept entries for the Crazyhorse Prizes. They ask that submissions of fiction and nonfiction be somewhere between 2,500 and 8,500 words in length. For poetry, please submit a set of 3-5 poems. They are also happy to consider simultaneous submissions.
36. Hobart – 11,000 visitors monthly
Hobart publishes new fiction on a daily basis, and the print magazine is pretty awesome, too, getting several reprints and notable stories from the Best American Short Stories series. When the print magazine opens up for submissions, submit quickly, because the window is usually short (after they get avalanched by submissions).
37. The Common – 9,000 visitors monthly
The Common is a print and digital literary journal published biannually, in the fall and spring. Issues of The Common include short stories, essays, poems, and images that embody a strong sense of place. The Common Online publishes original content four times per week, including book reviews, interviews, personal essays, short dispatches, poetry, contributor podcasts and recordings, and multimedia features.
38. New England Review – 9,000 visitors monthly
New England Review is a fan of artistic ability and thought-provoking creativity. They provide publishing opportunities for writers at all stages in their careers. The selection of writings in each issue presents an array of genres, including “traditional and experimental fiction, long and short poems, translations, criticism, letters from abroad, reviews in arts and literature, and rediscoveries.” They welcome fiction, poetry, nonfiction, drama, translation, creative writing, and cover art for their website.
39. Black Warrior Review – 9,000 visitors monthly
Black Warrior Review has some lovely features and interviews on their website, as well as regular submission and a contest. They’ve long been known for pushing boundaries in the short story, but they aren’t opposed to more traditional stories.
40. Pinch – 8,000 visitors monthly
Coming out of the MFA program at Memphis University, The Pinch is a unique publisher of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art. They accept submissions between August 15th and March 15th. All submissions should have a brief cover letter that includes contact information (name, address, phone number, email). All submissions must be previously unpublished. Be sure to check out their contests too!
41. Massachusetts Review – 7,000 visitor monthly
The Massachusetts Review seeks a balance between seasoned writers and emerging ones. They’re interested in variety and pieces “relevant to the intellectual and aesthetic questions of our time.” They are looking for in-depth articles and essays of art, music, and drama. They also consider analyses of trends in literature, science, philosophy, and public affairs. For fiction, they consider one short story per submission, a maximum of 30 pages or 8000 words. A poetry submission may consist of up to 6 poems. There are no restrictions for length, but generally their poems are less than 100 lines.
42. New Letters – 7,000 visitors monthly
The mission of New Letters magazine, its radio companion, New Letters on the Air, and BkMk Press, is to discover, publish and serve readers and writers worldwide. They publish stories, poems, and essays. Their regular New Letters submissions include an average length for prose is 3,000 to 5,000 words. They sponsor international writing contests and summer writing workshops.
43. Zyzzyva – 7,000 visitors monthly
Zyzzyva used to focus exclusively on West Coast artists, but after Howard Junker passed the torch to Laura Cogan, she opened the journal up to all writers regardless of geography. Still, they’re based in San Fransisco and tend to prefer stories with a Western focus. Biggest caveat: they do not accept any online submissions.
44. Bellevue Literary Review – 6,000 visitors monthly
The BLR has a too-high submission fee of $5, which pushes them out of contention for most serious writers, and caps submissions at 5,000 words. They want work related to their themes of health, healing, illness, the mind, and the body. Remember their star is on the rise because their book arm published Tinkers, which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize.
45. Gettysburg Review – 6,000 visitors monthly
The Gettysburg Review, published by Gettysburg College, is recognized as one of the country’s premier literary journals. Published quarterly, the Gettysburg Review considers unsolicited submissions of poetry, fiction, and essays, from September 1 through May 31. They consider submissions of full-color graphics year round. The editors of The Gettysburg Review express their deep commitment to the arts and humanities by seeking out and publishing the very best contemporary poetry, fiction, essays, essay-reviews, and art in issues as physically beautiful as they are intellectually and emotionally stimulating.
46. Fence – 5,000 visitors monthly
Fence is a biannual journal of poetry, fiction, art, and criticism. “It is Fence‘s mission to encourage writing that might otherwise have difficulty being recognized because it doesn’t answer to either the mainstream or to recognizable modes of experimentation.” Fence is committed to publishing from the in’s and out’s of established writing, seeking always to intermingle with other writing communities that puts the writing process in a different light.
47. Ecotone – 4,000 visitors monthly
Ecotone’s mission is to publish and promote the best place-based work. Founded at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2005, the award-winning magazine features writing and art that emphasizes on place. “The magazine explores the ecotones between landscapes, literary genres, scientific and artistic disciplines, modes of thought.” They are open to submissions in all genres.
48. The Southern Review – 4,000 visitors monthly
After the untimely death of Jeanne Leiby in 2011, the first female editor of The Southern Review, the journal has cycled through a number of other editors, but hopefully stabilized. They publish an array of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry “by the country’s—and the world’s—most respected contemporary writers.” They also consider fiction, poetry, and essays, including creative nonfiction and literary essays.
49. Little Star – 3,000 visitors monthly
This is probably the newest literary magazine on this list. It was founded in 2009 by Ann Kjellberg and Melissa Green, and is an annual print journal of poetry and prose. They also have a weekly digital mini-magazine available as an app and online. They welcome submissions at email@example.com, but have the dubious policy of only responding if they want the piece.
50. Post Road – 3,000 visitors monthly
Post Road publishes twice yearly and accepts unsolicited poetry, fiction, nonfiction, short plays and monologues, and visual art submissions. Submissions run from July 1 to August 31 for their summer issue, and from March 1 to April 30 for their winter issue. Simultaneous submissions are also acceptable.