Written by Emily Harstone October 16th, 2023

24 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 24 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.

All of these literary journals have at least one way to submit work without paying a fee. 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, it is because there is no free way to submit to them. I would like to stress that over the years I’ve been doing this job – almost a whole decade now – the amount of 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 Duotrope charged, now over 70% of the 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 Garstang’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 statistics for me. Part of why, is I feel like if 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 underrepresented 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 than most of our lists, because prestigious journals often have short submission windows. Some only accept fee free submissions via mail.

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. They used to have more reliable response times, but this is no longer the case.

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.

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, depending on the genre and the month. 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. All submissions must be made via the mail.

The Cincinnati Review
This respected literary journal publishes some of the most established writers, and on their pages appear a wide range of nonfiction, fiction, drama, and poetry. They are a paying market, and they have limited submission windows except for the miCRo flash series.

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. 

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.

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. Please read the guidelines carefully, there are different submission periods for mailed and online submissions.

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 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. They have very slow response times.

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.

The Cincinnati Review

This respected print journal has three open reading periods a year for its print journal, and publishes the work of emerging and established writers.

Blue Earth Review
This wonderful journal publishes a variety of creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry and is funded by Minnesota State University.

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. 

Beloit Poetry Journal
A very respected Poetry journal.

Puerto del Sol
This established literary journal has been active for over half a century and published a good mix  of emerging and established writers and artists.

Emily Harstone is the author of many popular books, including The Authors Publish Guide to Manuscript SubmissionsSubmit, Publish, Repeat, and The 2023 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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