Top 50 Literary Magazines -Every Writer

Top 50 Literary MagazinesThis is our list of the top 50 literary magazines. Our criteria for this list has changed. We considered a wide range of criteria for this list.  We looked at close to 20 data points. The most important criteria we used this time was date of founding, number of national anthologies publications (and we looked at a lot of them), and the quality of work of and names of past authors published in the magazine.

We have a database listing of 1000s of magazines:  Find a complete listing of literary magazines here.

We were the first site on the web to develop a list of top 50 literary magazines. It has been copied dozens of times. Our methods are methodical when it comes to compiling numbers for placement on the list. The purpose of this list is to help writers find a place to publish their writing that will get them some recognition. We feel when a magazine is published over a long period of time and is recognized nationally it gives authors more opportunity for exposure. Also these magazines tend to have a very good name in literary circles. We know that many will not agree fully and will feel we’ve left a good or great publication off the list. That’s okay. The best thing to do is leave a comment below.

This list of top 50 literary magazines is a culmination of about 20 years of hard work. I first had the idea for this list when I was getting my BFA in Creative Writing. I had talked to some of the MFAers. They would talk about good and bad literary magazines. This was in the early days of the web. It was difficult to find online publications. Few reputable magazine took online submissions. It was at that time that I started to collect a list of magazines. It was the Big List, and it started this site. Then I put this list together. I started looking for the best literary magazines and then later I realized I could turn different indicators into a point system, and so on. Later as EWR grew, others helped to compile this list. These magazines are very special to us, and this list isn’t thrown together. It’s one of the reasons it takes so long to update.

We have also included interviews with some of these editors of these magazines. It was an honor to interview them, and we recommend you read those interviews if you want to better understand what these magazines are looking for. The best practice, and best way to get your work published in these Top 50 literary magazines is by reading them. Understand what they want before you submit your work. Having a thriving literary community is about supporting each other not just supporting your work by publishing with them. Now here is our list of top 50 literary magazines.

Top 50 Literary Magazines – Every Writer

 

1 New Yorker 

Since 1925 this magazine has published some of the best writers in the country. They consistently publish outstanding work. They deserve your support. They have over a million readers. Online Submissions.

Ploughshares

Founded in 1971 Ploughshares is our best and highest ranked university non-commercial literary magazine. It is more honored by national anthologies than any other magazine except the New Yorker. It is an outstanding publication. We had the honor a little while back of interviewing Editor Ladette Randolph. Ploughshares is excellent and outstanding. Support them. Online submissions

Paris Review

The Paris Review started in 1953 and is one of the best known literary magazines in the world. It is always publishing great authors and great works. No online submissions.

Tin House

Started in 1998 but quickly became one of the most awarded and best known literary magazines in the country. It has been honored by national anthologies more times than many literary magazine that have been publishing for over 100 years.  We interviewed Editor Rob Spillman awhile back, see what he had to say. Tin House is a great magazine, read the interview, buy the magazine. Online submissions

New England Review

Started in 1978 and is one of the best known and best loved literary magazines in the country. It is outstanding. Online submission by payment.

Granta

An outstanding literary magazine that has been publishing since 1889. They are honored with awards often. No online submissions.

Harper’s Magazine

Founded in 1850 and always well honored. It is an outstanding commercial literary magazine with a circulation of 220,000 readers. Online Submissions.

Kenyon Review

One of the best literary magazines in the country. You can always find great writers in its pages. Started in 1939. We recently did an interview with the great Poet David Baker, one of the editors of the Kenyon Review. The magazine is one of the best out there, always. Submissions online.

Georgia Review

Started in 1947 and has won many awards. It is a great literary magazine that publishes great authors and great works. No online submissions.

10 Southern Review

Originally started in 1935, Southern Review has contributed to great literature for over 50 years. A publication of the Louisiana State University, and a great literary magazine. No online submissions

11 Virginia Quarterly Review

One of the very best journals out there. This journal is often honored. Published by The University of Virginia since 1925. Online submissions

12 Threepenny Review

Founded in 1980 and one of the best literary magazines out there. It’s always in national anthologies and winning awards. We had the honor of interviewing the Threepenny Review editor Wendy Lesser a little while ago, please check out the interviewOnline submissions

13 American Short Fiction

Founded in 1991, the magazine is always leading source of well-honored fiction. The magazine takes online submissions. Buy the magazine, read the magazine, and support it.

14 Yale Review

For 100 years this literary magazine has published great works by great authors. It’s always worth a read and a submission. No online submissions.

15 Southwest Review

This literary magazine can trace its roots back to 1915. Published by Southern Methodist University. The magazine is always publishing great work. No online submissions.

16 Mcsweeney’s

This magazine was founded in 1988 and has a large following. They also publish book. The literary magazine publishes great names in writing. Online submissions.

17 Iowa Review

Founded in 1970 this literary magazine publishing great work again and again. No online submissions.

18 Glimmer Train

Glimmer Train is only way down here at 38 because they do not publish poetry. Most of our numbers that go into this list are based on awards and anthologies, and magazines on our list take a big hit for only publishing Short stories or only poetry. It’s not a perfect method. Glimmer Train is one of the best literary magazines in the country. If they published poetry they would most-likely be in the top 10. We had the honor of interviewing Susan Burmeister-Brown a little while back. Please read the interview, and support Glimmer Train.

19 American Poetry Review

This literary magazine only publishes poetry and was founded in 1976. It is one of the top 2 poetry magazines in the country. No online submissions.

20 Poetry

The best poetry magazine in the country. Founded in 1912 and always publishing great poets. Publishes poetry online. Online submissions.

22 Zoetrope All-Story

Founded by Francis Ford Coppola in 1997, the literary magazine consistently publishes outstanding works of fiction.

22 One Story

Launched in 2002 and immediately began getting recognition for it’s high quality stories. They publish fiction only.

23 Zyzzyva

First published in 1985, and has published outstanding stories every year it has been in publication. They are consistently honored.

24 Agni

Published by Boston University since 1972. This literary journal is always publishing great work. Online submissions.

25 Antioch Review

Publishes great authors and great writing. It has been published by Antioch College since 1941. We love the Antioch review. They are in our database, and an outstanding literary magazine. No online submission

26 Michigan Quarterly Review

MQR began publishing in 1962, they are always publishing outstanding work. Published by the University of Michigan. Online Submissions.

27 Gettysburg Review

Founded in 1988 This literary magazine has been publishing since 1927 and is one of the very best. Their new website is very well done, and they now take online submissions!

28 Prairie Schooner

This literary magazine has been publishing since 1927 and is one of the very best. Their new website is very well done, and they now take online submissions!

29 Cincinnati Review

Started in 2003 this literary magazine has published many outstanding authors and outstanding work.  Online submissions.

30 Colorado Review

In 1956 Colorado State University established the Colorado Review. They consistently publish good work from authors. Online submissions.

31 Boulevard

The literary magazine has been publishing great work since 1985. It’s one of the best. Online submissions.

32 Harvard Review

Has been publishing outstanding work since 1986. Online submissions.

33 Subtropics

This literary magazine has only been publishing for 6 years, but has been honored so many times it made our list. No online submissions.

34 Shenandoah 

This literary magazine began publishing in 1949 and is one of the very best. Online submissions.

35 Five Points

Is published by Georgia State University and is in our top 10 of these 50 for being always in national anthologies and winning awards. Founded in 1996 still less than 20 years old but a great literary magazine. Online submissions

36 Conjunctions

An outstanding literary magazine. From Bard College, they do have online content. No Online submissions.

37 Epoch 

Published by Cornell University since 1947 and always publishes great authors and great writing. No online submissions.

38 Hudson Review

Founded in 1947 this literary magazine publishes outstanding work and authors. No online submissions.

39 Triquarterly

Founded in 1958 Triquarterly has always published great work. The magazine is honored often by national anthologies. Online submissions.

40 Alaska Quarterly Review

Founded in 1980 and published at the University of Alaska of Anchorage. The magazine publishes great work. No online submissions

41 The Missouri Review

Since 1978 this magazine has won many honors and has published great works by great authors. The Missouri Review is one of those old . Online submissions.

42 A Public Space

Was founded in 2006 but has won many honors in the short time it has been publishing. Online submissions

43 Chicago Review

Founded in 1946 this literary magazine is always publishing great works. No online submissions.

44 Black Warrior Review

This literary magazine was founded in 1947 and always publishes great works. The Black Warrior Review is always publishing outstanding works by amazing authors. We are big fans of this unique and long standing magazine. Online submissions.

45 Witness

First published in 1987 the literary magazine has come on strong lately with many honors. Online submissions.

46 Barrow Street

The literary magazine only publishing poetry and was founded in 1998. One of the best. No online submissions.

47 New Ohio Review

Started in 2006, this Ohio University Magazine has consistently published outstanding work from the day it was opened. They have a nice site on the web, and online submissions.

48 Crazy Horse

This literary magazine has been publishing great authors since 1960. We really enjoy Crazy Horse Magazine. This is a rare gem among many magazines of its kind. They are old school, so to speak. We recommend you buy a copy. Online submissions.

49 Narrative 

Since 2003 they have been published fiction and poetry by great authors. We had them listed as the best online literary magazine, and they do have an outstanding website, but they now publish in the real world, so we’ve moved them. This magazine is certainly worth reading a paying attention to. Online submissions.

50 Ecotone

University of North Carolina-Wilmington established Ecotone in 2005. They consistently publish good work. They do not have much content online.

I’ve been asked many times how we come up with this top 50 literary magazines list. It’s very difficult! Some other lists on the web basically just tally the most appearance in Best American Short Stories or other anthologies. Basically the literary magazine gets points for the number of years it has been publishing. Then we tally the appearances of these literary magazines in several national anthologies. We then give points for certain awards like Pushcart. We turn all these into a point system and then rank the magazines. So it would be like this, top 50 magazines in order are based on age + awards + anthology appearances =best. That’s why this list was number one for literary magazines for the last 10 years. It’s a painstaking process. Anyway we hope this list of top 50 literary magazines is helpful.

30 thoughts on “Top 50 Literary Magazines -Every Writer”

  1. Any idea why The Atlantic fell off the list? The last time I checked (maybe a couple of years ago), it was #3. That seems like a pretty precipitous drop, unless you excluded it for some reason.

  2. Thanks for sharing this info

  3. ZYZZYVA also publishes poetry.

  4. Thank you very much! This is such a helpful list!!

  5. Good list! However, I’ve got one correction for you. I clicked on the link above for Ecotone, and it took me to the magazine’s website. I clicked on its “About” page and it says that it was launched in 2005 by the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, not University of South Carolina, as you state above. I’m at Clemson and have connections to University of South Carolina. Its literary publication is called Yemassee. Hope that helps!

  6. We are working on updates. Sorry about the errors. Our site is about 10,000 pages, so sometimes it’s hard to make all the changes we want to make. If you see errors point them out. Mike, I’ve made the changes you pointed to. Thank you so much, and yes, it does help.

    • Thank you for all your work! I’m chiming in to say that Michigan Quarterly Review now accepts online submissions via Submittable.

      • Your comment popped up in my board, but it was so difficult to find where you left this. These new reply buttons. I made the changes…thank you for the note.

  7. Hello there from Cincinnati Review! We do have online submissions now–in fact, we accept only online submissions. Thanks for the list!

  8. Where are the online magazines? For my own tops list on the net, see my website or my monthly column of “literary booksmarks”

  9. Disappointing to see a list like this base so heavily on biased anthology presence. The next article should be about how basing a list of “best” on metrics that are skewed towards cis-hetero white men is flawed. Also, as someone else said, where are the online literary journals that are doing the work right now? Meh, won’t be bookmarking this.

  10. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t the 6th to the last word of the introductory paragraph be “past”? Or are you referring to necrotic authors?

  11. Just to clarify: Colorado Review does in fact take online submissions.

  12. A note to editors, the best way to update the information above, and to get a listing on our site for free, is to go here: https://www.everywritersresource.com/literarymagazines/submit-your-site/ and fill out the form and submit it. We will update your listing, and this page….

  13. Thank you for compiling this list–these are high-quality magazines, and anything that brings attention (and, ideally, subscriptions)to literary magazines is a helpful thing. However, it’s disturbing to see Narrative included on this list. They have a history of, to put it politely, questionable financial practices, including charging more than $20 for a standard submission. This is far beyond the standard and reasonable $1-$3 other magazines charge to cover expenses, and it feels like profiteering. While thankfully no other magazines have adopted these practices, what’s to stop them if Narrative keeps getting accolades and attention like this? As someone who has worked for one of the many deserving magazines on this list and who has seen what it takes to support and maintain a literary magazine even with university funding, I can imagine how tempting it might be to raise rates like this, and how easy it might be to rationalize that decision. However, imagine if that were to happen across the landscape. If other magazines charged similar rates, the barriers to entry for most writers would be prohibitive. For many writers, the barriers to submitting to Narrative already are. If they keep getting rewarded despite their practices, what message does that send?

    • Not only does Narrative charge an outrageous fee, but they have options for readers (internally, of course) to flag submissions either by “Noteworthy Authors” or those who have contributed $X to the journal. Narrative is an outright racket.

    • How do you expect a literary magazine to continue in existence charging $1 to $3 for a submission? Assuming a magazine gets 2,000 submissions at even $3 per, that’s $6,000. Printing costs alone can exceed that total. An independent magazine with no university backing would find it difficult to survive.

      • There is a lot of debate about literary magazines charging to read….but it is so difficult to make money publishing that it should certainly be understood why. Think of it this way, when you submitted your work did you also subscribe to the magazine? Have you ever bought a copy of the magazine you are submitting to? It cannot be one sided.

    • Well, we looked at the quality of writing in these magazines, not at their practices. Narrative doesn’t make anyone submit work to them. Writers find a value in it, or they wouldn’t do it. I too worked for a university magazine, and I never made a dime. We have to ask ourselves at some point what is the value of the work we do? Is the end goal only publishing a novel with a big publisher and riding off into the sunset? That prospect is sinking quickly. Making money on ads has become increasingly difficult. So how do you pay your fiction editor? Should literary magazines always be a profitless venture where no one sees value, and it’s just a few selfless souls who produce them? I’m just asking, what is your model to profit from these? Should these editors always work for free? Should it always be a university venture for the sake of art? Do you have a suggestion on how a magazine can make profit? Even major magazines and newspapers are disappearing.

      • These are important points, and increasingly salient in a time when public and philanthropic revenue streams are disappearing. As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s understandable why a publisher would be tempted to charge such fees. However, it’s important to look at the entire ecosystem. An equally probing question to the one Reid posted above is: “How do you expect writers—many of whom are graduate students, adjuncts, or otherwise underemployed—to pay $20 a pop for a submission?” Every time I log onto Duotrope I get a congratulations because my acceptance rate is higher than average. That rate? A paltry 1.3%. Imagine how many $20 submissions I would have to send to maintain a publishing presence. It’s true that literary magazines won’t survive if they aren’t financially viable. It’s also true, however, that they won’t survive, at least not with artistic integrity, if they only have a limited pool of independently wealthy submitters. Of course, that still leaves your important question about what should be done. While I wish I had the answer, I do think there’s a middle ground to be found between $1-$3 and $23. I also think literary magazines need to think carefully about the practicality of print in an age when online publishing is increasingly affordable in comparison. And to your point about subscriptions, I agree that authors who can afford to do so should absolutely subscribe to as many magazines as they can. This should go without saying as an ethical imperative for those who submit work. As for editors, the amount of work they do is incredible—I’ve seen it firsthand. Should they be remunerated for what they do? Absolutely. But should that be earned on the backs of (often impoverished) writers at $23 a submission? And perhaps more practically, if extrapolated across the literary magazine landscape, if everyone charged rates like Narrative’s, there wouldn’t be enough money to go around. Narrative is able to operate as it does because it’s a one-off. Throw everyone else into that mix, however, and things would look very different. That’s all I’m saying: We need to consider the larger implications for everyone involved.

      • I don’t know, but if they give their fiction editor $20 per submissions, wouldn’t that be nice? On EWR we get 100s of submissions, and many are outright spammed. I get submissions that are just forwarded from other magazines. No cover letters, nothing. You have to think of the value, and submitting your work has a value. If they made it a rule to subscribe to their magazine before you submit, would that be ok? I don’t know, but the model for literary magazines has been around for a very long time. One of my first rejection letters was from the late great Lois Rosenthal of Story magazine. It was hand written and worth much more to me than $20.

  14. I’ve removed a couple nasty comments here. One was from a website owner who has 14,000 backlinks and 53 organic traffic. It kinda tells you what he does with his time. It’s bad form to spam the site while insulting me.

  15. ALthough I appreciate your ranking of SHENANDOAH, I think you should know that the journal has been on line (shenandoahliterary.org) for about 7 years. To assess it’s current quality, someone needs to look at recent issues. In fact, we now ONLY consider mss. sent through our Submittable portal.
    Thanks
    R T Smith
    Editor, SHENANDOAH

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