True to the name, EL is distributing electronically, through a host of formats: e-book, Kindle, and iPhone, plus print-on-demand. It seems a smart new path for literary journal distribution. Plus, EL actually provides a business model that might work, as stories are sold for .99, a much better distribution model than wrangling a few copies into independent bookstores, many copies of which are unsold and scrapped.
Might I mention the lineup is as strong as that first issue of Black Clock that took the literary world by storm?
As far as money, they say this on their submission page (a backhanded jab at Narrative?):
We pay writers, they don’t pay us. We are proud to support writers who entrust us with their work.
They also pay at a Subtropics rate ($1000 smackers a story). But it’s pretty hilarious that a journal with “Electric” in their name doesn’t accept electronic submissions. [CORRECTION: Though initially confused by the set-up of the submissions page, I have now verified that they do accept electronic submissions.]
The Daily Beast has an article about the five best literary journals, but two of the journals — N+1 and The Believer — I’d describe more as book reviews.
One Story deserves its place on this list, but it’s interesting that Quick canadian pharmacy onhealthy Fiction gets a nod — as the name implies, it’s all fiction under 500 words. They have excerpts only available online for each story — no, I’m joking. (Remember the 6-word story craze? Try excerpting the Hemingway one: “For Sale: Baby . . . ” — Now pay to see the rest). But explore the Quick Fiction website, because it’s a nice design.
Lastly, there’s Subtropics, about which Lizzie Stark writes:
“Subtropics is the most traditional literary magazine on this list.”
If by traditional she means not publishing exclusively flash fiction and coming out twice a year instead of every three weeks, then yes, Subtropics could be considered traditional. But I wouldn’t call the aesthetic of Subtropics traditional. Consider John Brandon’s “Naples. Not Italy.” Or Chris Bachelder’s “Gatsby’s Hydroplane.”
In the spirit of Harper’s Readings, I offer this trivia about literary journals. Below are the journals that use the adjective “oldest” as a badge of pride. And no — despite readers’ assumptions that only one journal would use the term “oldest,” with others using only “older” or “not as young as most,” quite a few use creative qualifications to lay claim to that trophy of all trophies: the geriatric-est literary journal.
Northwest Review: “among the nation’s oldest”
Carolina Quarterly “one of the oldest”
Prairie Schooner: “One of the oldest literary journals”
For all my readers who are writers, click on the link to the left under Pages: Journals Accepting Electronic Submissions. I found there wasn’t a good list up anywhere, and decided to make my own. It’s a list which will change fairly frequently, but I’ll try to keep it updated.
Columbia College Chicago has put together a database of literary journal information. It gives you a snapshot of the type of fiction/poetry published in each journal, with currently more than fifty journals listed. While Duotrope‘s best information is statistic based — how many submissions a journal receives and how quickly they reject/accept — and the reviews of Newpages focuses on the overall journal performance, these reviews go story by story, classifying according to genre, length, POV, and rating how difficult it would be for an emerging writer to break in.
One terribly annoying factor is that every single Market Sheet (one page of information about the journal) is a PDF file, which ends up cluttering up your computer with files and doesn’t allow for easy switching between reports. Also, some of the reports aren’t as helpful as they could be, offering the POV (another omniscient third person narrator) yet not making clear whether the story is magical realism or straight realism. But if you can’t read every journal that you submit to — although you should, of course, at least once — this might help you determine whether to send that story to Black Clock or Quarterly West.
The Minnesota Review is in danger of shutting down, due to Carnegie Mellon’s intransigence regarding funding. It’s an age-old struggle between English departments squeezed for money, who want to shift funds to other seemingly more tangible benefits, and literary journals that are rarely self-supporting.
David Kaufer, the head of the English department, insists that The Minnesota Review should seek outside funding, but most literary journals operate on a budget funded by three roughly equal sources: revenue from sales/advertising, outside grants/funds, and university support. If you take away the last leg, most university-affiliated journals would collapse.
On this lovely Monday morning, I'd like to direct your attention to the left column, under "Pages." I've added a new one: Ranking of Literary Journals. Although I realize the dangers of such an attempt and the impossibility of creating a list that will not be debated, I wrote this because when I was first starting to send out to literary journals, I wanted a guide to help steer me.
Unfortunately, other than a top-eleven list or two, there isn't much out there. So this list should help you to know when you're sending out to one of the most difficult journals, and also know it if you're sending to a mid-list journal. There are multiple strategies out there — break in at the lower levels and build your way up, or pound away at the big boys until a story breaks through — but I'll leave those choices up to you.
This list of the top literary journals is not meant to be exhaustive. Actually, the opposite: it's meant only to highlight drugs online great journals and create a hierarchy of the best journals. It excludes online literary journals because I have ranked them elsewhere. Some of the sections (especially IV and V) have very little differences in status between them. The most incomplete list is section V, which could have twenty or thirty more journals added, and there is space for a section VI, but it would include a good hundred or more journals. Consult Duotrope for those options.
My ranking criteria included perceived reputation, frequency of appearances in literary news, appearances in newly published collections, my personal experience with these journals, other ranking attempts and Duotrope rankings. Although the actual list is broken down into sections based on the difficult of getting published, this is just a convenient way of smashing all the above criteria into one easy-to-label format. Also, in ranking these journals, I tried to evaluate their current status, not (if applicable) their former glory.
If you have suggestions or critiques, I welcome them in the comments section of that page.
So recently I’ve been seeing a number of publications that seek out pre-published material. Think of it as a second chance for your piece to find an audience. Here are three different magazines focusing on round two.
Second Writes is a new literary journal specializing in material already published. The publishers of the journal are frustrated that all everyone wants is First North American Rights. What about Second Rights? And so was born Second Writes. Their first issue contains an essay from the New Yorker, which doesn’t seem to need the publicity of a second go-around, but I’m hoping that future issues will focus more on the back roads and byways of publishing, to highlight the overlooked but not under-talented. Best of all, they pay $150 per piece, which isn’t shabby considering First Rights have already been sold.
According to the May/June issue of Poets and Writers, New Millennium Writings also accepts any stories for contests that have not been published in journals with circulations above 5,000. So that’s 97% of lit journals. (According to my completely facetious calculations).
Lastly, here is one that many more of you are familiar with: Utne Reader. They are always on the look for reprints, culling all the best out from the jetsam and flotsam of modern culture. It’s a bit like the logic of Harper’s Magazine Readings section, except on a much grander scale. Unlike the two above, Utne focuses solely on nonfiction:
Many of the articles in Utne Reader are reprinted from the hundreds of magazines, newsweeklies, newsletters, and literary journals we receive regularly, and we welcome previously published submissions. (Yes, this includes online sources.) We do not accept fiction or poetry.
Interview with Jeanne Leiby from Sam Armstrong on Vimeo.
I talked with Jeanne Leiby, editor of the Southern Review, about a weak-kneed and shaky-voiced solicitation of Philip Levine, Bret Lott’s aesthetic changes to the journal, a special issue about the circus, and cultivating the emerging writers of this generation.
Interviewer: John Matthew Fox
Videographer: Joel Champagne
Video Editor: James Roland