Writers seeking to investigate the world of literary journals to read and submit to should make use of the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, and the on-line listings at Duotrope, CLMP and NewPages. The latter is also an excellent resource for the enthusiastic reader. In Submit I posted links to a number of different lists (best of’s, tiers) as a way of making sense of the sprawl of options out there. Here’s another for the reader and writer who really wants to dive into the growing world of on-line publishing. The journal storySouth has for the past five years overseen the Million Writers Award for best on-line story; they also acknowledge Best and Best New on-line journal. If you click their Notable Stories of… lists, you’ll find somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 stories in 92 journals–all with direct links to stories and the magazine’s homepage.
Below is my list of notable journals. I have not separated print and on-line. I have read at least an issue of each, and in a number of cases had a chance to meet an editor at AWP or elsewhere. It does not pretend to be comprehensive; as with other things here, it’s simply a place to start. It will expand modestly as I get around to my “to read” stack.
- Alaska Quarterly Review – After watching them publish a number of writers I know and admire (Julianne Ortale, Mary Otis, Sage Marsters, Alicia Gifford), I had to break down and order a subscription. Recommended.
- American Short Fiction – A big favorite of mine. Clean design, devoted exclusively to short stories and novel excerpts. More often than not a solid read cover to cover. Nice people. Highly Recommended.
- Barrelhouse – New, fresh, pop culture-friendly journal, very much a counter to academic publishing. Editor was a guest at an on-line UCLA class and shared a series of e-mails in which they deliberated a submission. Very impressed at how thoroughly they considered the story.
- Cream City Review – Named after the cream-colored bricks in Milwaukee. They’ve published some really good people over the years. Met the new editor Jay Johnson at AWP.
- elimae – For “electronic literary magazine.” Books and on-line poetry and short stories. Stories tend to be very short in the spirit of the prose poem. Does not encourage simultaneous submissions but tries to respond in 72 hours. The writer Pia Ehrhardt loves this magazine and that’s good enough for me.
- failbetter – Terrific on-line journal, one of the best. Treats writers well. Met Editor Thom Didato at AWP, and impressed with his thoughtful views about on-line publishing. Recommended.
- Mid-American Review – Been around since 1981 but still willing to take chances. For example, devoted an entire issue to unpublished writers. Check out their on-line workshop. Recommended.
- Missouri Review – One of the top journals for over a quarter-century. Editor Speer Morgan is one of the good guys in publishing.
- Narrative – They publish some very impressive names, and have both a print and on-line presence. Enter one of their contests and get a “backstage” pass to audio files of readings and other features. They seem to have ‘adopted’ the journal StoryQuarterly as well. Recommended.
- New England Review – Also around since 1978. They’ve published two friends–in one case her first, the other her third–stories which went on to win the O. Henry and the Pushcart respectively. Which tells me they have a great eye for new talent, and go out of their way to promote their writers. Met Editor Stephen Donadio at AWP and couldn’t have been more impressed. Highly Recommended.
- Night Train – On-line journal with an annual print edition. Nice mix of shorts and longer stories. They published me but don’t hold that against them. Editor Rusty Barnes has a new collection, Breaking It Down.
- The Normal School – A brash new journal with freshness and a little bit of attitude.
- One Story – Just what it says: one story (chap-book style) in the mail every three weeks. Ron Carlson recently contributed their 100th issue. Check out their blog, too. Highly Recommended.
- Ploughshares – The venerable Emerson College journal, over 30 years old. Of interest in no small part because its system of rotating guest editors ensures a fresh perspective each issue.
- Post Road – Willing to take chances. Worth checking out for their “Recommendations” entries alone–not so much a traditional review as one writer’s highly personal take on a work that made a deep impression.
- A Public Space – Journal founded by Brigid Hughes after her brief tenure at The Paris Review. Strong commitment to fiction, poetry, and to exactly what the name implies: consideration of public issues in a thoughtful but accessible way. Important new journal. Recommended (though takes a while to respond to submissions).
- St. Petersburg Review – New journal with an international focus. Impressive inaugural issue. Met Editor and Publisher Elizabeth Hodges at AWP and couldn’t have been more impressed. Recommended.
- Subtropics – New journal out of Florida with a lot of energy. And apparently some money: they pay unusually well (and respond to your submission with alarming speed). Six issues in and they’ve already made it into Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories and other collections. Keep an eye on them. Recommended.
- Tin House – Terrific magazine, terrific conference, terrific people. And now they’ve got a book division, through which they help emerging authors (like Mary Otis of Yes, Yes, Cherries) make the leap to book-length collection or novel. Highly Recommended.
- ZYZZYVA – Devoted exclusively to West Coast writers and artists. One man’s taste, which makes it uneven and unpredictable but always interesting. Responds quickly to submissions with Howard Junker’s trademark Onward! on the rejection slip.