2017 Perpetual Folly Literary Magazine Ranking — Overview

pushcart2017Below are links to the 2017 Perpetual Folly Literary Magazine Rankings for Fiction, Poetry, and Non-Fiction. Scroll down for a discussion of the rationale and methodology behind the lists.

If you find the lists useful, consider making a donation to support this site.


Literary Magazine Ranking — Fiction

Literary Magazine Ranking — Poetry

Literary Magazine Ranking — Non-Fiction

Rationale for the rankings. Years ago, when I was first submitting short stories to literary magazines, I wanted a way to tier my submissions. I believe in simultaneous submissions, but I didn’t want to submit a story to a great magazine and a not-so-great magazine at the same time because of the risk of multiple acceptances. (If the not-so-great magazine accepted first, it would pain me to withdraw the story from the great magazine.) Developing a ranking of literary magazines allowed me to submit only to those magazines in roughly the same tier. I began sharing the list on my blog because I knew other writers used the same tiered approach to submissions. Eventually I added poetry and non-fiction rankings and also links to magazine websites.

Basis for the rankings. I base the rankings on the annual Pushcart Prize anthology that comes out in November. That anthology includes fiction, poetry, and non-fiction and excludes the magazines of general circulation like The New Yorker, Atlantic, Harper’s, and so on. Other anthologies, like the Best American series and the O.Henry Prize Stories are excellent books, but their approach to assembling their winners is different. As these things go, the Pushcart Prize anthology draws from a wide range of nominating magazines, which makes it the best choice for these rankings. One criticism of the Pushcart Prizes is that they have a print-publication bias. Although there are an increasing number of online publications earning recognition in the anthology, that bias is probably real. There are some fine online magazines that won’t appear on these lists, unfortunately.

Methodology.  I’ve made a change this year. Originally, I based the rankings on a ten-year rolling score that assigned a constant value for Pushcart Prizes earned over that period and a lower value for Special Mentions. Some readers suggested that a five-year rolling score would be better because it would result in newer publications rising in the rankings sooner. But reputations take years to develop, and I didn’t like the shorter period, while acknowledging the validity of the point. So this year I’ve compromised. Now the formula assigns one value for Prizes and Special Mentions received in the most recent five years and half that value for Prizes received in the preceding five years.

Symbols. You’ll notice a few symbols next to the names of some magazines on the lists. (c) indicates a closed magazine; (w) indicates a broken link for a live magazine; and (?) indicates some question about the magazine or an unknown link.

2016 Pushcart Prize Literary Magazine Rankings — Overview


It is once again time for my annual ranking of literary magazines. Here are links to each of the lists, with a summary of my methodology and observations below.





I first began doing these rankings several years ago as an aid for my own submission process. I wanted to submit my work within tiers of magazines, so that I wouldn’t find myself having to choose between an excellent magazine and a lesser one. When I shared the list on my blog, it was immediately very popular. I updated it each year and later expanded it to cover Nonfiction and Poetry, as well.

The lists are as objective as I can make them. They are based solely on the number of Pushcart Prizes and Special Mentions a magazine has received over a rolling 10-year period in each genre. (In updating the list this year I dropped 2006 and added 2016 prizes and special mentions.) I don’t take into consideration readership, contributor payment, or any other factor. Granted, the Pushcart Prize itself is not objective, but it seems to me to be the most democratic of the annual anthologies because its nomination process is somewhat transparent. Also, the Prizes have an apparent bias against online magazines, although that continues to erode, as you’ll see from this year’s list. There are some fine online and hybrid magazines included here.

No method of ranking is perfect, but I hope you will find these lists useful. I have attempted to check all the links, but if you find one that is broken or have information about a closed magazine (which I indicate with a copyright symbol for “closed”), please leave a comment here or write to me at info@cliffordgarstang.com.

If you do find the lists useful, consider making a donation using the link below, or maybe buying one of my books, which you’ll find here: Clifford Garstang on Amazon.com.