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: