20 Respected Literary Journals and Magazines that Publish Creative Writing

Written by Emily Harstone | October 2, 2017

The literary journals and magazines on this list reject the vast majority of what is submitted to them. Sometimes authors’ works are rejected for years, decades even, before they receive an acceptance.

But these literary journals are respected and trusted. Most have a large readership and good distribution in libraries and bookstores. 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 20 journals and magazines can make a huge difference in your career as a writer.

The list is not in any particular order. Not all are currently open to submissions.

None of the literary journals charge readers for all submissions. We never review publishers that charge, and 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 20 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. Because of that reason, there are no publishers that focus on genre writing (like Tor.com or Shimmer) on this list.

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.

The New Yorker

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

Poetry

This is 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 to note your appearance as a debut poet with them.

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 have a hard time choosing even five. 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 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, which they are rather famous for. They were founded in 1953 and have published many well-known 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, non-fiction, and poetry. Granta has editions in twelve languages across three continents. Unfortunately in November 2017 they started charging a 4 dollar fee for all prose submissions but they are still open to free poetry submissions.

The Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR)

They publish poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction by award winning writers. They pay $200 per poem, and start at $1,000 per fiction piece.

Harper’s Magazine

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

Tin House

This respected print literary journal publishes some of the best contemporary writers, and has excellent distribution. They also have a regular online publication open to shorter work.

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 something else entirely. Some of the 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.

Jubilat

This is one of the most prestigious poetry-only journals. They are print-only, and do a fabulous job.

AGNI

This is a wonderful print journal that publishes fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Known for publishing “important new writers early in their careers” (PEN), six contributors have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The Missouri Review

This established print journal publishes some of the best non-fiction around; they also publish poetry and fiction. They do charge for electronic submissions, but postal submissions are free.

ZYZZYVA

ZYZZYVA has some of the best distribution I have ever seen. If a bookstore sells only three different literary journals, ZYZZYVA is one of those three journals. They have published many famous poets and writers, including Haruki Murakami and Sherman Alexie.