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 eleven years (2007 – 2018) 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.

There were seventeen newcomers added to this year’s list, up from twelve newcomers last year. 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.

News about 2018:

Southern Review and Zyzzyva had great showings this year. Zyzzyva moved from 15 to 11, continuing their upward momentum, and Southern Review moved from 12 to 7.

On the other hand, we had an enormous amount of shut-outs this year. One Story, American Short Fiction, Atlantic Monthly, AGNIVirginia Quarterly Review and Glimmer Train got completely shut out — not a single point for any of them. Which basically means their fiction didn’t resonate with this year’s editor, Roxane Gay. 

Gulf Coast has moved up a great deal over the past few years, up to a respectable spot more commensurate with their reputation, and Passages North got on the map in a big way, going from zero points to 5 points this year.

Another lit mag that’s worth noting is Fifth Wednesday Journal. They’ve been consistently amassing nods from the BASS editors, and they should be on your radar to submit to.

Best Literary Magazines Rankings:

1.  The New Yorker 283
2.  Tin House 129
3.  Ploughshares 90
4.  Granta 69
5.  Glimmer Train 52
6.  Harper’s Magazine   50
New England Review 50
7. The Southern Review  45
8. Zoetrope All-Story  44
9.  Atlantic Monthly 43
American Short Fiction  43
Paris Review
43
10. McSweeney’s Quarterly 42
11. ZYZZYVA
34
12.  One Story   32
13.  The Kenyon Review   31
14. Virginia Quarterly Review   28
The Iowa Review   28
15. Narrative Magazine
24
16.  AGNI   22
17.   Conjunctions   21
18.  Antioch Review  20
Yale Review   20
Alaska Quarterly Review 
20
The Missouri Review   20
19. Ecotone 
19
20.   Subtropics  18
21. Prairie Schooner  17
A Public Space   17
22. Five Points   16
  Epoch  16
23.  Georgia Review   15
24. The Sewanee Review  
13
25.  Michigan Quarterly Review  12
  The Cincinnati Review  
12
  StoryQuarterly 
12
26. Santa Monica Review   11
  Harvard Review  11
  Colorado Review  11
 27.   Witness  10
   West Branch 10
Idaho Review   10
  Gulf Coast
10
28. Boulevard   9
  The Gettysburg Review   9
  The Normal School 9
Fifth Wednesday Journal  9
29. Oxford American  8
  Crazyhorse   8
  Threepenny Review  
8
  Mississippi Review  
8
30.  Image  7
Black Warrior Review   7
31. BOMB 6
  Nimrod 6
  Shenandoah   6
  The Sun  6
  Hobart  6
  Washington Square Review 6
  Esquire  6
  New Ohio Review 6
32. Fiction 5
  TriQuarterly  5
  Chicago Quarterly Review 5
  Passages North 5
  Bellevue Literary Review  5
  Southwest Review 5
  Byliner  5
33.  Commentary  4
  Joyland Magazine 4
  Orion 4
  Daily Lit 4
  Callaloo  4
  Salamander  4
  Massachusetts Review  4
American Scholar 4
  Meridian 4
  Freeman’s
4
 34. Copper Nickel 3
  Cimarron Review  3
  Guernica 3
  Commonweal  3
  The Common 3
  E-Flux Journal 3
  N+1 3
  Grain 3
  Emry’s Journal
3
35. Ninth Letter 2
  Crab Orchard Review  2
  New Letters  2
  Confrontation  2
  Tampa Review   2
  The Pinch 2
  Pembroke Magazine 2
  Hudson Review  2
  Los Angeles Review of Books 2
  Greensboro Review
2
  Event
2
  Isthmus
2
  Electric Literature
2
  Hopkins Review
2
36. Hayden’s Ferry Review  1
  The Literarian  1
  Carolina Quarterly  1
  Coffin Factory  1
  Little Star  1
  Red Rock Review  1
  Cutbank  1
  Denver Quarterly  1
  Alligator Juniper  1
  Unstuck  1
  Able Muse  1
  Southampton Review  1
  Sou’wester  1
  Consequence  1
  December  1
  Blackbird  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
  Prairie Fire 1
  Chicago Tribune (Printer’s Row) 1
  Slice 1
  Indiana Review 1
  Bennington Review 1
  Territory 1
  Wired 1
  Sycamore Review 1
  Fiction International 1
  Transition 1
  Arts and Letters 1
  Ruminate 1
  Ascent 1
  LitMag 1
  Hunger Mountain 1
  Southern Indiana Review 1
  Water-Stone Review 1
  Lunch Ticket 1
  Master’s Review 1
  Oyster River Pages 1
  New York Tyrant 1

 

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33 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.

  • Matt / September 29, 2017 at 2:31 pm Reply

    Hi John,

    Thanks for doing this. Are you planning to update your ranking with the 2017 book out?

    • Bookfox / September 29, 2017 at 2:43 pm Reply

      I think it comes out October 3rd, and yes, I update it every year.

      • Matt / September 29, 2017 at 6:57 pm

        Thanks, that would be great and very useful.
        Interestingly I saw it (and leafed thru it) at a bookstore in Canada (Toronto).

      • Bookfox / September 29, 2017 at 7:09 pm

        Yeah, sometimes a bookstore will break embargo and people can nab a copy a week early, but I think in general it’ll come out in a few days.

  • Julie / November 9, 2017 at 11:06 am Reply

    Helpful list! Thank you. Does this include updates for the latest (2017) book? Thanks – Julie

    • Bookfox / November 9, 2017 at 1:21 pm Reply

      Not yet. It will soon.

  • shirin / October 3, 2018 at 10:57 am Reply

    hi John,
    can you guide me about ho to publish my poems in a literature journal?
    i’m new in this point and have no idea how to start.
    regards,

    • Bookfox / October 3, 2018 at 12:55 pm Reply

      Just submit according to the directions on the literary mag’s website, and then wait.

  • Zach Zippe / October 4, 2018 at 1:01 pm Reply

    You have forgotten the North American Review. It is the oldest literary magazine in the US.

    • Bookfox / October 5, 2018 at 7:01 am Reply

      It’s based on appearances in Best American Short Stories. If you want on the list, publish stories that get critical attention from BASS.

      Also, it’s funny you mention oldest literary journal — that’s a notion claimed by over 20 journals.

  • Erin / October 14, 2018 at 4:11 pm Reply

    This is an awesome list of the big names in literary/adult fiction magazines. I’m glad you made it and I found it. I’m wondering, though, do you have any recommendations on who you’d publish YA and children’s fiction to? I’ve got a few down, but not many, and I’ve scoured the internet pretty well. Anything would be helpful.

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