The Ten Best Literary Journals in 2013

Written by Emily Harstone | December 19, 2013

Every week we send you reviews of literary journals open to submissions. As the end of year approaches we are releasing a list of the Ten Best Literary Journals that we have reviewed this year. All the Journals on the list are currently open to submissions, so keep that in mind. Some journals that we really love, like Threepenny Review, are not open to submissions so they were not included in the list

What makes a literary journal the best is a complicated combination of the content, the presentation, and the reputation of the journal. The journals on this list are all part of the top ten and are included in no particular order.

1. The New England Review

The New England Review (also known as NER) publishes a wide variety of fiction as well as poetry. It has published many innovative and famous poets. They accept less than 1% of the work that is submitted to them.

NER accepts electronic submissions but it charges a small fee for each submission (2 dollars per poetry submission). If you want to avoid that fee you  can submit your poems through postal mail.

NER publishes four print issues a year. It takes the editors about two months to respond to submitters. If you are interested in submitting work to NER, please visit their website here: http://www.nereview.com/

2. Blackbird

Blackbird exclusively publishes poems online. They are one of the oldest and most established online literary journals. They have a very low acceptance rate, but if your work is published by them, it cements your standing as a poet and a writer. To learn more about Blackbird visit: http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/

3. Bop Dead City
All the journals on this list so far take a while to respond, from six months to a year. Bop Dead City responds to most submissions within a week, usually within the day.

They are a quarterly print publication that is looking for short stories and poems. Bop Dead City gives all their contributors a complimentary copy of the journal. They accept under 5% of the work that is submitted to them for consideration. You can learn more about them here: http://bopdeadcity.wordpress.com/

4. Kestrel
Kestral is an established and artistic literary magazine. They even have a fairly reasonable acceptance rate of over 5%. The one hitch with submitting to them is that they do not accept electronic submissions. You have to mail your work to them the old fashioned way.

They generally respond to submissions with three months, which is a fair response time. To learn more visit their website: https://www.fairmontstate.edu/kestrel/ . Kestrel Closes to submissions on January 31st, so be sure to submit before then.

5. Jubilat

Jubilat is a print journal that exclusively publishes poetry. They accept less than 1% of the work submitted to them, so they are a challenging market. However they are also respected publishers who have helped establish the reputation of many poets.

Jubilat’s print editions are beautifully bound. However, you do not have to purchase one to get a good feel for what they publish. They also post a small sampling of poems online so you can get good a good feel for what they are looking for.

Jubilat responds to most submissions within 2 months, which is a good response time for a journal with a larger editorial board. If you are interested in submitting you can learn more about what they are looking for here: www.jubilat.org.

6. North American Review

The North American Review was founded in 1815. It is one of the oldest and most respected print journals in the country. They are open to fiction as well as poetry, so keep that in mind if you write both.

They are have a very slow response time. Expect to wait up to a year to hear back from them about your submission. They accept under 5% of the work that is submitted to them. That gives you a much better opportunity to be published than most of the top tier journals.

If you are interested in submitting to them, you can learn more at their website here: www.northamericanreview.org

7. AGNI

AGNI has published many of the established fiction writers of today including David Foster Wallace,  Jhumpa Lahiri, and Noam Chomsky. They also publish poetry and non-fiction.

AGNI accepts around 1% of the work submitted to them and they respond to most submissions within three months.

Even though they are primarily a print journal you can get a feel for what they are looking for by reading the stories they select from each issue to publish online. If you read this stories before submitting you will get a better feel for what they are looking for.

If you are interested in submitting to AGNI you can visit their website here: www.bu.edu/agni/index.html.

8. Tin House

For the past five years Tin House has become the literary journal that every emerging and established writer wants to be published in. It has a wide subscriber base, famous editors, and great distribution. Not to mention Tin House’s reputation as the journal with its hands on the creative pulse.

Tin House is a beautifully bound print journal. It is published four times a year and several of those issues are themed. Tin house publishes both fiction and poetry. To learn more visit their website here: http://www.tinhouse.com/home

9.Popshot

Popshot is an illustrated literary magazine based out of the UK. They publish short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. They try to publish only new writers, ones that are not yet established. They are very respected and accept less than one percent of the work that is submitted to them. They produce an aesthetically beautiful print journal twice a year. To learn more please visit their website at http://www.popshotpopshot.com/

10. Steam Ticket

Steam Ticket is a print journal that publishes one issue every year. They are looking for compelling short stories, flash fiction, essays, and poems. They accept less than 2% of the work submitted to them. They respond to submissions within six months. To learn more visit their website: http://steamticket.org/submission-guidelines/