call for litmag recommendations

So we all know about the litmag dreamlist, the ones where you send submissions with a hope and a prayer. Even if you’ve been published by them once, there’s no guarantee you’ll be published by them again. I’m talking about Ploughshares, The Paris Review, Tin House, Glimmertrain, ZYZZYVA, Zoetrope or One Story for starters. My apologies if I missed one, I’m sure I have.

But now I’m searching to compose a second sort of list: a list of conscientious, good, organized, passionate litmags that are less competitive in its submissions.

The Bellevue Literary Review used to fall in this category, and now has quite a good reputation (with the accompanying competitiveness). I met the Editor in Chief, Danielle Ofri at a writer’s conference once–she’s a doctor, a mother, and an editor in chief. Doctoring and mothering are enough to monopolize her time, but so invested is she in writing that she’s also squeezed editing into the mix. This parlays, I’m sure, into the success of the Bellevue Literary Review. A friend of mine was published in this litmag, and was very impressed and flattered by how much they helped edit her accepted story before it went to print.

I’ll start the list off with Verbsap, an online litmag with one of the kindest, conscientious and most responsive editors I’ve ever encountered. No three month wait here, and the litmag is unique and contains fresh stories, some with a raw edge (think diamonds in the rough), some real polished gems. The common thread is the undercurrent of passion in this litmag. Just to note–it was a friend who recommended this litmag to me in the first place. Thanks to my buddy, and now I’m paying it forward.

Anyone got recommendations for places to submit work? Where have you had a good experience in submitting your creative writing? Where have you been impressed with the writing? Where have you been impressed by the editor?

(One of my professors, someone who has had a meteoric rise in the writing world, once asked me, “Do you know which magazine has a WONDERFUL editor?” She then went onto describe an editor at one of the “dream list” magazines above. Good to know, but in some ways the discussion felt like being a really poor person and hearing a description about how a Rolls Royce is a fantastic car, and I should consider buying one. The point of this anecdote? We’re “emerging writers” and we want to talk about something other than “the rolls royces” of litmags. )

I don’t expect much of a response, given the prickly nature of writing friendships and writing mentorship–but please, maybe you can prove me wrong. I’d like to think we can all help each other out and share information!



Filed under Publishing, Writing

17 responses to “call for litmag recommendations

  1. Wow, this is a lovely idea for a post. I wish I had a magazine to share so I could prove that I’m not prickly or selfish. Unfortunately I have no f***ing clue about this submissions stuff. And furthermore, I have not written any fiction really since school ended, even though I’ve been going to Camp Marzipan to “get some writing done.” Argh. I so want to be organized and grown-up and businesslike about this.


    Back to you, Jade – thanks for this post. If I ever finish a story I will look here and think about submitting.

  2. Don’t know much about submissions either. To me I’m pleased not that folk read it but that I write it.

  3. Jade, I would recommend Small Spiral Notebook. The editor, Felicia Sullivan, is incredible. A couple of years or so ago I submitted a short story there and got a personal letter explaining what did and didn’t work, and saying that the story wasn’t right for SSN, but that I should try another. So I sent another story many months later and she accepted it. Close to publication she sent me her edits and they were thorough, challenging… and ending up making the story so much better than it was. I got the sense that she is really committed to her magazine and to her writers. (It’s also a really wonderful journal.) My story will be out in the next print issue, due out this month actually.

    So, happy ending! And truly one of the best publishing experiences I’ve had. Small Spiral Notebook is definitely open to emerging writers, as I am one.

  4. I’m contractually obligated to plug Identity Theory (, naturally. But besides that, I found two things to be helpful for building a litmag “subdreamlist”. One, click through the members listed on the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses site: And two, submit locally if you can. Mid-tier lit mags don’t have a lot of cash and thus do a lot of their fundraising and brand-building through local events; therefore, editors often pay a little more attention when they read a submissions from a good writer who might available to do readings, etc. Heck, look at Steve Almond: dude is a legend in Boston, all through local hard work that is now paying off for him nationally. So if you’re in Boston, consider Post Road and Redivider. Atlanta? Five Points. A cornfield in Indiana? The Sycamore Review.

  5. w

    I was going to suggest SSN as well! Please also consider Swink (L.A./NYC bicoastal mag; Leelila Strogov) and Orchid (Ann Arbor; Keith Hood); editors for both, especially the latter, are very attentive and down to earth, if a little overworked. Opium Magazine might be an interesting place, too; check out their regularly updated site.

    When I go into a bookstore, the lesser-known mags that impress me most are Post Road, jubilat, Noon (very short pieces), and StoryQuarterly. Oh, Alimentum (about food) is intriguing as well; the editor Peter Selgin is also attentive and generous with his time and comments.

    Will try to think of more…

  6. w

    Oh, and the journals with geographical places (states, cities, etc.) in their titles: Mississippi Review, Missouri Review, Virginia Quarterly Review (huge press lately), Denver Quarterly Review, Kenyon Review, Chelsea, Washington Square, etc.

    Also, there’s Gulf Coast, published by U of Houston—big journal, and looking especially to publish people from more diverse backgrounds.

  7. Thank you for your post. Its very helpful towards writers looking to get published someday, but highly intimidated by the challenges of getting published.

    I write myself, and I post on her to practice my own skill, and hope for critique from other aspiring writers(hint hint). Great post.

  8. w, your list of lit mag suggestions is so helpful!

  9. I like the Ontario Review a lot (because I’m a Joyce Carol Oates fan and she’s the editor.)
    ONTHEBUS (because I’m a Jack Grapes fan), and what about the Missouri Review. They look interesting in their advertising stuff? Also, Narrative Magazine looks interesting to me from afar, but I have not really, umm, gulp, read it actually. hmmm…this is a good discussion you’ve got here. I love that you say “given the prickly nature of writing friendships and writing mentorship.” Funny.

  10. Swink and Postroad, mentioned above, are good places, with friendly editors. I’d also add New Letters, even though it’s on the literary dreamlist. Nice editors, a personal feel to exchanges, an openness to new writers.

  11. A friend of mine was published in Narrative–good mag, but VERY competitive!

  12. w

    Tom Jenks of Narrative mag is very supportive. Note, though, that there’s a reading fee for submitting work (online only), with the month of February fee-less (except then you’re not eligible for their prize).

    Check out Night Train also, although it’s gone into temporary hiatus because of lack of funds. That’s too bad, as it published wonderful stories and had an interesting ongoing project where a city sponsored each issue, plus the editors are ultra-generous.

  13. Also alson are The Big Ugly Review online (the editor, Elizabeth Bernstein, is a friend of mine) and (which includes, run by Larry Smith.

  14. Sorry for all the typos in that last comment!

  15. If you write any ghost stories or sf/fantasy pieces, I have loads of recommendations. Otherwise, I dunno. But there are tons of markets listed at duotrope, with response times and rates of acceptance for duotrope users. *shrug*

  16. Stephanie

    Hmm, well, I think I’ve got a list of speculative fiction markets but I’m not sure that’s what you’re looking for. Strange Horizons always publishes good work. You may be interested in Ideomancer and Shimmer.

  17. You guys are awesome–thank you for sharing!

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