Note: the 2015 Ranking for Fiction is now available. Go here.
It is time once again to present the annual Perpetual Folly Pushcart Prize Rankings for Literary Magazines. I’ll be rolling these out over the next three days, beginning with the Fiction ranking, which is below. (2014 Nonfiction Rankings appear here. Poetry rankings are here.)
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For comparison purposes, see the 2013 Fiction rankings here.
I feel compelled every year to offer a disclaimer for the list. I originally created it in order to aid my own efforts at targeting my submissions of short stories to literary magazines. I used the Pushcart Prize because I felt that it represented the broadest range of magazines among the annual prizes (including Best American Short Stories and the O. Henry Awards).
My method is straightforward. I use a ten-year rolling database and give points to magazines for the prizes awarded and fewer points for each special mention. I don’t go further back than ten years because it seems to me that what is relevant is the current success of the magazines, not their storied past. Also, the further back we go, the more defunct magazines we find, and that’s not terribly helpful. Some have argued that a five-year period should be chosen instead. That seems too small a sample. When only 19 or 20 prizes are awarded in fiction each year (even fewer this year), I think ten years provides a clearer picture of a magazine’s success.
Some people don’t like rankings at all, and I understand that. This ranking, however, is as objective as I can make it. The Pushcart Prize itself is subjective, of course, but that’s an entirely different question.
A note on symbols. I have marked magazines that I believe to have ceased publication with ©. Several magazines have a (?) by their name which means I can’t find a website for them. Please leave any corrections or updates in the comments and I’ll make changes as soon as I can.
What is notable about this year’s list? Here are some observations:
- The gap between Ploughshares and the rest of the pack has closed a bit.
- Gettysburg Review, Narrative, Iowa Review, Paris Review and Noon all made big jumps this year, winning 2 Prizes each.
- Triquarterly and Shenandoah both continue to drop. Is this more punishment for their move online?
- Granta debuts on the list, winning its first Pushcart Prize. How is that possible?
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The magazine Maggid seems to have ceased publication in 2005, with its second issue. I’m not sure why it is on the list as active.
I’ll look into it. Thanks.
Although the magazine ceased publication, Maggid Books, an imprint of Toby Press, which published the magazine, appears to continue. I’m not sure the distinction between the magazine and the imprint is important. Nonetheless, I’ll add a note that the journal has ceased publication.
Absolutely fantastic resource!
I have a question I’m not sure there’s a good answer to. The top fifty places or so seem well-sorted with the great magazines followed by some really good ones. But past fifty, where journals are getting less than 10 points and there are a lot of ties, things seem more hazy.
Without singling out magazines for negative attention, there are journals like Granta and Black Warrior Review (which I’ve seen cited as excellent up-and-comers in interviews and blogs) alongside some journals that seem a little less, um, shall we say, prestigious, often paying nothing and sometimes even charging for submissions. Then near the bottom you have New Ohio Review which pays reasonably well (though I understand that isn’t necessarily related to quality editorial decisions).
So, my question is, to people who may know better, just how accurate is this list at the bottom end in terms of ranking the prestige of these journals among editors, agents, and other literati? Again, without picking on any journals, would it be better to take the rankings at face value or to research the journals below the top 50, skipping a fair number altogether, prioritizing a few that seem to deserve a better ranking, and leaving the remainder where they stand?
Please keep in mind what this list is–it is purely a ranking by the number of Pushcart Prizes and Special Mentions received over the last 10 years. It is, therefore, as objective as I can make it. It doesn’t measure prestige (which is subjective and, perhaps, illusory), payment, circulation, or other factors. So the list is perfectly accurate for what it is, but it’s nothing more than what it purports. You might be interested in rankings that incorporate these other factors, but most don’t go beyond the top end of the list.
Cliff, are any of these magazines strictly online publications? Or are they all print publications? How many online publications are included, if any?
A few are online. Not many. I haven’t counted, but may add that as a feature for the next version of the list.
Thanks for answering, Cliff. Noting whether the magazines listed are strictly online or print would be interesting.
This list has really helped me. Thank you for doing it!
You’re welcome! Please feel free to share the link with others.
Thank you for putting together this list. Very helpful.
Northwestern pushed out the storied editor of TriQuarterly a few years ago and put the journal into the hands of graduate students, to save money. That’s the reason its ranking has fallen. It’s a different magazine now.
Thank you for creating your lists! I find it incredibly useful.
This is an amazing resource. I’m just starting my writing career and was overwhelmed trying to work out which of the 1200+ literary journals I should put in my sites. Thanks for helping communicate the lay of the literary journal land!
PS I think the Ontario Review link is pointing to the wrong site – this is the correct link: http://www.usfca.edu/jco/ontarioreview/
Thanks for the correct link for Ontario Review. I didn’t realize that USF had taken it over. I’ll correct it soon.
The link for the Southampton Review is the old one. Here’s the new one:
http://www.stonybrook.edu/southampton/mfa/publishing/tsr.html. Great list!
Thanks! I’ll update.
The new site for The Southampton Review is actually this one:
Oh. Okay, thanks.
I recently did something similar for my own blog, using data from five years each of the Best American Short Stories series and the O. Henry Prize collections. I came across your Pushcart-centered number-crunching, and included a link to it in my own post: http://undulantfever.blogspot.com/2014/10/through-lit-fic-jungle-with-pen-and.html
I can’t believe there aren’t more “thank yous” to you here, Clifford. This list is vital. So thanks!
Gee, thanks! Be sure you check out the 2015 versions of the lists, though. One year fresher.