This 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.
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Top 50 Literary Magazines – Every Writer
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.
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.
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.
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.
Started in 1978 and is one of the best known and best loved literary magazines in the country. It is outstanding.
An outstanding literary magazine that has been publishing since 1889. They are honored with awards often.
Founded in 1850 and always well honored. It is an outstanding commercial literary magazine with a circulation of 220,000 readers.
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.
Started in 1947 and has won many awards. It is a great literary magazine that publishes great authors and great works.
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.
One of the very best journals out there. This journal is often honored. Published by The University of Virginia since 1925.
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 interview.
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.
This literary magazine can trace its roots back to 1915. Published by Southern Methodist University. The magazine is always publishing great work.
This magazine was founded in 1988 and has a large following. They also publish book. The literary magazine publishes great names in writing.
17 Iowa Review
Founded in 1970 this literary magazine publishing great work again and again.
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.
This literary magazine only publishes poetry and was founded in 1976. It is one of the top 2 poetry magazines in the country.
The best poetry magazine in the country. Founded in 1912 and always publishing great poets. Publishes poetry online.
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.
First published in 1985, and has published outstanding stories every year it has been in publication. They are consistently honored.
Published by Boston University since 1972. This literary journal is always publishing great work.
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.
MQR began publishing in 1962, they are always publishing outstanding work. Published by the University of Michigan.
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.
This literary magazine has been publishing since 1927 and is one of the very best. Their new website is very well done!
Started in 2003 this literary magazine has published many outstanding authors and outstanding work.
In 1956 Colorado State University established the Colorado Review. They consistently publish good work from authors.
The literary magazine has been publishing great work since 1985. It’s one of the best.
Has been publishing outstanding work since 1986.
This literary magazine has only been publishing for 6 years, but has been honored so many times it made our list.
This literary magazine began publishing in 1949 and is one of the very best.
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.
An outstanding literary magazine. From Bard College, they do have online content.
Published by Cornell University since 1947 and always publishes great authors and great writing.
Founded in 1947 this literary magazine publishes outstanding work and authors.
Founded in 1958 Triquarterly has always published great work. The magazine is honored often by national anthologies.
Founded in 1980 and published at the University of Alaska of Anchorage. The magazine publishes great work.
Since 1978 this magazine has won many honors and has published great works by great authors. The Missouri Review is one of those old .
Was founded in 2006 but has won many honors in the short time it has been publishing.
Founded in 1946 this literary magazine is always publishing great works.
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.
First published in 1987 the literary magazine has come on strong lately with many honors.
The literary magazine only publishing poetry and was founded in 1998. One of the best.
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.
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.
University of North Carolina-Wilmington established Ecotone in 2005. They consistently publish good work.
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.