It’s a brand new year. You’ve made some resolutions, am I right? And if you’re a writer, as I am, your resolutions might look something like this:
1. Finish more [stories, essays, poems].
2. Figure out where to send them.
I’m here to help. When I first started sending out stories in about 2004, I had no idea where to send them. I dutifully read some of the literary magazines I could find, but I barely knew a Ploughshare from a Conjunction. And my method of choosing where to submit was pretty scattershot. Then I discovered the idea of dividing the literary magazine world into tiers and only submitting (simultaneously) within the tiers.
I decided to create a ranking system that would let me group magazines by their quality–or at least by some measure of quality, since quality is ultimately subjective. I chose the annual Pushcart Prize anthology as my measure–among the major annual anthologies, its selection process seems the most transparent, plus it excludes the “slicks” from its recognition–and created a formula to award points for prizes awarded and special mentions listed over a ten-year period.
The result was a big list of magazines that I posted on my blog and some people found it useful. Later, I added separate lists for non-fiction and poetry. And then I added hyperlinks so writers could jump directly from my rankings to the websites of the magazines they were interested in. Now I frequently hear that writers find the list indispensable. I’m glad to hear it.
Here, to help you with your submissions in 2017, are my annual literary magazine rankings:
2017 Perpetual Folly Literary Magazine Rankings: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry.
I won’t bother anyone with my perennial New Year’s Resolutions (lose weight, clear away household clutter, be a nicer person, etc.), but I thought it might be useful–if only to myself–to set forth some writing resolutions. Call them goals. Call them: To Do List 2016.
- Blog More, Blog Better. I plan to post a thoughtful blog piece at least once a week. I’d like to think someone reads this stuff; all I have to do is set aside a couple of hours each week. (This will include my reading journal and, maybe, the return of New Yorker story commentaries.)
- Finish revisions to novel and send back to agent. (My agent made great comments and all I have to do is make them work on the page.)
- Select and edit the stories for the second volume of my anthology series, Everywhere Stories. Submissions are now closed, so all I have to do is read them all.
- Write a second draft of the new novel. For that, all I have to do is go to Singapore for a week or two for research, and dedicate several months to the writing.
- Look for more opportunities for reading and public speaking. I actually enjoy doing this, and unlike teaching there are no papers to grade! Need someone for your reading series? Need a speaker? I’m your man.
- Spruce up the website. I made some changes last year, but I need to do more. Which means, all I have to do is relearn WordPress and sit down at the computer to get it done.
I’m sure I’ll think of more, but this should keep me busy for most of the year.