15 Respected Literary Journals and Magazines that Publish Creative Writing

Written by Emily Harstone | August 8, 2016

The literary journals and magazines on this list reject the vast majority of what is submitted to them. But they are respected and trusted. Most have a large readership. Many of these are the journals and magazines that the editors of publications like The Best American Short Stories read through to select work from. Acceptances at one of these 15 journals and magazines can make a huge difference in your career as a writer.

The list is organized alphabetically. Not all are currently open to submissions. None of them charge readers to submit. We never review publishers that charge, these are some of the reasons why. So if a well known literary journal or magazine that publishes creative work is not listed here, that is one of the reasons why.

We limited this list to 15 literary journals and magazines.  There are lots of great respected and established literary journals that are not on this list and do not charge submission fees, but we didn’t want to overwhelm anyone. 15 is a good number to start with.

The name of the publication links to their submission guidelines.

The Atlantic

The Atlantic is open to submissions of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. They pay well. If you haven’t heard of the Atlantic before, I am surprised. Maybe visiting the website will jog your memory.

The New Yorker

The most famous (and most profitable) magazine with a literary bent, The New Yorker is very competitive.  However, they accept unsolicited submissions of fiction, poetry, and cartoons. They pay very well.

Poetry

The most famous poetry magazine there is. It is published by The Poetry Foundation. The first time you have a poem printed by them an asterisk appears next to your name.

The Sun

The Sun is a fabulous ad free magazine that has been around for over 40 years and has published so many famous writers, I cannot even choose five to name drop. The publish fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir, and poetry. They only accept submissions through the mail. They even pay well.

Rattle

This prestigious print magazine also has a wonderful weekly online feature called “Poets Respond” which features poems that are responses to news articles published that week.

One Story and One Teen Story

These related publications publish one story per issue, one publication is aimed at adults, the other at teens. They pay well and they have published so many established, reputable, bestselling, and award winning authors. I am counting both journals as one publication for the purpose of this list.

The Paris Review

This venerable print publication accepts only postal submissions. They publish poetry and fiction as well as interviews. They were founded in 1953 and have published many famous writers since then. Some famous authors including Adrienne Rich, Philip Roth, V. S. Naipaul, and Rick Moody, were first published by The Paris Review.

Granta

This print and electronic literary journal publishes great straight forward fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Granta has editions in twelve languages across three continents.

The Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR)

They publish poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction by award winning writers. They pay $200 per poem and start at a thousand dollars per fiction piece.

Harper’s Magazine

Harper’s considers unsolicited fiction. It is the second-oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the U.S.

McSweeney’s Quarterly

Also known as Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, this literary journal publishes nonfiction and fiction only, and is reformatted every time it is published. Sometimes it resembles a journal, sometimes a box, sometimes other things entirely. Some of they many writers they have published include Denis Johnson, Jonathan Franzen, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Lethem, and Michael Chabon. The amount they pay authors varies.

The Threepenny Review

According to Tony Kushner “Everybody should rush right out and subscribe to The Threepenny Review”. This quarterly arts magazine publishes poetry, fiction, memoir and criticism. They have very fast response times. They pay.

The Collagist

This online only literary journal publishes fiction, excerpts, poetry, and nonfiction. They are highly respected and have published many contemporary authors that have become part of the establishment.

The Kenyon Review

They publish short fiction, essays, poetry, plays, excerpts, and translations of poetry and short prose. When you submit to their print journal you are also submitting to their online magazine, both have a large readership.

A Public Space

They publish great writing and work, everything from novellas to excerpts. They are respected, modern, and compelling. They have an open reading period once a year.