Written by Emily Harstone

22 Respected Literary Journals and Magazines

The literary journals and magazines on this list reject the vast majority of what is submitted to them. Sometimes established authors’ works are rejected for years, decades even, before they receive an acceptance.

But these literary journals are respected and trusted. Most have a large readership and good distribution in libraries and bookstores. Many of these are the journals and magazines that the editors of publications like The Best American Short Stories read through to select work from, these are also the journals that nominate work that actually wins the pushcart. Acceptances at one of these 23 journals and magazines can make a huge difference in your career as a writer. Most of these journals also pay upon acceptance.

The list is not in any particular order. Not all are currently open to submissions. Also many of these journals have very limited free submission periods, or only accept submissions via mail.

None of the literary journals charge readers for all submissions. We never review publishers that charge, and these are some of the reasons why. So if a well- known literary journal or magazine that publishes creative work is not listed here, that is one of the reasons why.

I would like to stress that over the years I’ve been doing this job – almost a whole decade now – the amount of really really respected journals open to free submissions has become much more limited. When I started Authors Publish about 40% of the most challenging markets listed on Duortope charged, now over 70% of that list charge for submissions (you can only access these lists with a Duotrope subscription, which also costs money).

Even if you don’t take Duotrope’s stats seriously (and they are not as accurate as they once were), the same story is echoed in Clifford Garstong’s yearly Literary Magazine Rankings, and in fact the percentage of journals charging on his list is even higher, more like 80%. This is particularly jarring when at least two formerly well respected magazines, have a well documented track record of taking payment without ever reading the content that is submitted to them.

These are very depressing statistic for me, and part of why I feel like you believe in real diversity in publishing, the situation has actually gotten bleaker, even though many literary journals are more vocal about their support of historically under-represented writers. If you are wondering why I’m highlighting these depressing statistics, is that I believe change won’t happen unless we overtly discuss such information.

There are lots of great respected and established literary journals that are not on this list and do not charge submission fees, but are focused on genre (like Tor.com). Not all of these journals are currently open to free submissions. More journals on this list will be closed to submissions, because of the nature of the list.

The Atlantic

The Atlantic is open to submissions of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. They pay well.

The New Yorker

The most famous (and most profitable) magazine with a literary bent, The New Yorker is very competitive to get into. However, they accept unsolicited submissions of fiction, poetry, and cartoons. They pay very well.

Poetry

This is the most famous poetry magazine there is. It is published by The Poetry Foundation. The first time you have a poem printed by them, an asterisk appears next to your name to note your appearance as a debut poet with them.

Rattle

This prestigious print magazine also has a wonderful weekly online feature called “Poets Respond” which features poems that are responses to news articles published that week.

One Story

They publish one story per issue. They pay well and they have published many established, reputable, bestselling, and award-winning authors.

The Paris Review

This venerable print publication accepts postal submissions, and via Submittable, twice yearly. They publish poetry and fiction, as well as interviews, which they are rather famous for. They were founded in 1953 and have published many well-known writers since then. Some famous authors including Adrienne Rich, Philip Roth, V. S. Naipaul, and Rick Moody were first published by The Paris Review.

Harper’s Magazine

Harper’s considers unsolicited fiction submissions and queries for nonfiction. It is the second-oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the U.S.

Cimarron Review

This respected literary journal publishes some of the most established writers, and on their pages appear a wide range of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.

McSweeney’s Quarterly

Also known as Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, this literary journal publishes nonfiction and fiction only, and is reformatted every time it is published. Sometimes it resembles a journal, sometimes a box, sometimes something else entirely. Some of the many writers they have published include Denis Johnson, Jonathan Franzen, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Lethem, and Michael Chabon. The amount they pay authors varies. They are currently closed to submissions.

The Threepenny Review

According to Tony Kushner, “Everybody should rush right out and subscribe to The Threepenny Review”. This quarterly arts magazine publishes poetry, fiction, memoir and criticism. They have very fast response times. They pay.

The Rupture

This online-only literary journal publishes fiction, excerpts, poetry, and nonfiction. They are highly respected and have published many contemporary authors that have become part of the establishment.

The Kenyon Review

They publish short fiction, essays, poetry, plays, excerpts, and translations of poetry and short prose. When you submit to their print journal, you are also submitting to their online magazine; both have a large readership. They are reading submissions on the ‘Luminous Gender Vessel’ theme until 5 January 2022.

A Public Space

They publish great writing and work, everything from novellas to excerpts. They are respected, modern, and compelling. They have an open reading period once a year. They are currently closed to submissions.

AGNI

This is a wonderful print journal that publishes fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Known for publishing “important new writers early in their careers” (PEN), six contributors have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. They  charge for electronic submissions, but postal submissions are free.

The Missouri Review

This established print journal publishes some of the best nonfiction around; they also publish poetry and fiction. They do charge for electronic submissions, but postal submissions are free.

ZYZZYVA

ZYZZYVA has some of the best distribution I have ever seen. If a bookstore sells only three different literary journals, ZYZZYVA is one of those three journals. They have published many famous poets and writers, including Haruki Murakami and Sherman Alexie.

Iowa Review

One of the most respected print journals charges for electronic submissions but allows postal submissions for free during their open submission period.

The Bennington Review

Published twice a year in print, this beautiful literary journal publishes both established and new authors. They publish fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and cross-genre work.

The Malahat Review

The Malahat Review was established in 1967 and is one of Canada’s leading literary journals. They publish contemporary Canadian and international works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. They are open to submissions form international writers sometimes, and Canadian writers always.

Sixth Finch

Sixth Finch is an online journal of poetry and art. Poems from Sixth Finch have appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Prize, and Best of the Net.

Frontier Poetry

Publishing some of the best contemporary poets and poetry, they’ve done an excellent job finding new talent and they are a paying market.

The Lascaux Review 

This respected print and electronic publication has published many established writers, and they prioritize work that is both literary and accessible.

Blue Earth Review

This wonderful journal publishes a variety of creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry and is funded by Minnasota State University.

Epoch

Epoch has been in print since 1947 and is edited by students and faculty of the creative writing MFA program at Cornell. They have a free few electronic submission opportunities a year , but have a much larger free submission window for postal submissions.

 


Emily Harstone is the author of many popular books, including The Authors Publish Guide to Manuscript SubmissionsSubmit, Publish, Repeat, and The 2021 Guide to Manuscript Publishers.

She regularly teaches three acclaimed courses on writing and publishing at The Writer’s Workshop at Authors Publish. You can follow her on Facebook here.

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