Monday, January 3, 2011

Best Literary Magazines for Nonfiction

For those of you whose New Year’s resolutions include getting published or publishing more: The first rule of the submission game is: Be discriminate, meaning don’t submit your writing just anywhere. Have a list of the top journals you’d like to get published in, and send your work there. If they reject it, submit it to your second tier of magazines, and you won’t be sorry if it gets accepted there or at the next tier.
But how do you know who the top tier magazines are? The world of literary magazines is a gigantic, ever-changing maze. And the maze is different depending on the genre – magazines winning Pushcarts for Fiction might not be winning them for nonfiction. I just updated my ranking of literary magazines that publish literary nonfiction, namely essays and/or memoir, and am sharing my top tier here. Top tier, in my humble estimation, means a magazine won either a 2010 Pushcart for Nonfiction, or had an essay included in Best American Essays 2010, or achieved some of the same in either 2009 or 2008, although my review of those years is not as thorough.
My list does not include icons like The New Yorker or Vanity Fair which hardly ever publish unsolicited work. I also don’t list journals that do not accept simultaneous submissions (I have a separate list for those) because I am very reluctant to have a piece tied up for months by one journal. This is why stellar journals like the Georgia Review are not listed here. Please note that journals are listed in alphabetical order:

20 comments:

  1. Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging, Annette. I've very much enjoyed writing on the blog I started in 2009. Some good advice in this post and nice to have the list of magazines. I look forward to more.

    www.writergrannysworld.blogspot.com

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  2. Annette, the blog looks terrific. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    jill

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  3. Hi Annette,

    Thank you very much for this post! I'm a first-year MFA student (Creative Writing, University of British Columbia) and I primarily write memoir. Unlike all my fellow students (who overwhelmingly write fiction and know exactly where to submit), I have really struggled to find a place for my work. This helps so much as it gives me a great place to start looking.

    -sierra

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  4. Sierra - I was in exactly our spot many years ago! Other ratings don't really cater to us nonfiction writers, so I am glad to hear that you found my listing helpful. Please note that I post several updates throughout the year as listings change and you can find them under the label "literary magazines for nonfiction." Good luck with your MFA, and stop by again!

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  5. So happy to have stumbled upon your blog Annette :) Thank you for sharing these non-fiction magazines.

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  6. Thank you, this is helpful!

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  7. Thank you very much for the lovely list of magazines!

    It is very difficult to find the right magazine when you are just starting out in the writing business, so any help goes a long way. Your hard work is much appreciated!

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    1. Amicia - I am so glad to hear that my list is helpful. Good luck with submitting your work!

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  8. As someone who came to nonfiction writing without passing through an MFA first, I sometimes feel a bit out of the loop as far as literary journals go. Stumbling upon your site was a stroke of very good luck. You've mentioned several journals I've never heard of and reminded me of a couple I'd forgotten. What's more, I'm delighted to discover your work. I plan to read several of your essays while I'm waiting for your memoir to appear in stores...

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    1. Sharon - thank you for your very sweet comment. I'm always happy to hear my listing of nonfiction literary magazines is helpful, and it reminds me that I should update it again, soon! Yes, the world of literary magazines is definitely a maze but as you start reading those you like, you will find that the picture clears up a bit.

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  9. Thank you for your generous tips, Annette. Publishing tips, I mean. Love your hair and the photographs. Look forward to reading your essays. Lucinda

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    1. Lucinda - I'm so happy to hear that you found my tips helpful. Stay connected!

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  10. Hello, I am looking for a marvelous literary magazine encompassing tremendously 'sophisticated essays'. Do you have any recommendation for me. Now, I am just reading 'Georgia review'. I will be obliged if you help me to find one. By the way, I am not looking for submission, I am merely an avid reader.

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    1. I recommend Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, River Teeth. Creative Nonfiction just came out with an anniversary issue that features the best of their best.

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    2. I recommend Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, River Teeth. Creative Nonfiction just came out with an anniversary issue that features the best of their best.

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    3. I am absolutely grateful for your help.

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  11. Thank you so much for your generous, thoughtful and important post, Annette.
    I am hoping to have my memoir, A History of a Pedophile's Wife, reviewed in some literary journals that accept such reviews. Very grateful for your list!

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  12. Thanks for the suggestions. I would like to see the journals ranked as a guide.

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  13. I would like to thank you for writing on this particular topic.

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  14. As you yourself said, the literary world is "a gigantic, ever-changing maze." Have you updated this amazing list? You created it in 2011.

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