The other articles in this group looked at markets that fell under the speculative fiction umbrella. While the differences between those genres are as large or larger than any similarities, there is one big thing they have in common: how a market is determined to be a top market is a combination of pay scale, time in business, and size of the audience. Moving on to literary fiction, all that certainty goes out the window. Here is a genre that is dominated by the university professor's need for publish or perish. Some of the markets in this section are judged by their reputation and their ties to prestigious schools. On the other side of things are the markets that cater to what some might consider the "sophisticated set." These have few or no ties to any university, and may be more likely to appear on magazine racks and in libraries.

Though there is no governing body that establishes a pay rate to be considered pro, in general, the top literary fiction markets have better pay scales than all but a rare few speculative fiction markets. Pay may be tied to the page, a fluid scale based on the magazine's typeface and page size; to the item; or to the word. While crossovers with speculative fiction do exist, the majority of these markets are looking for stories that use literary devices and deal with contemporary issues in contemporary settings. While what one market wants over another is hard to determine, a starting point as always is their guidelines and then moving on to reading some sample issues.

Another interesting point about the top group of literary fiction markets is that many of them are available not just in academic libraries, but also in the public library system. This both makes finding review copies easier and provides a broad audience for your work.

The one thing these markets have in common with the ones discussed in earlier issues is that the worst your story can receive, assuming you've made the basic effort of meeting the guidelines and submitting something that falls within their interest areas, is a rejection letter. Because of that, it is always worth starting at the very top, no matter how slim the chances. All the leading magazines have, at one time, published debut authors or authors on their first professional appearance. The right story is what will win the acceptance, not whether the credits list a master's degree in literature and a string of sales.

Here are a few good literary markets to consider:

The Atlantic Monthly

This is one of the leading markets in the literary fiction genre. They publish very few short stories and require postal submissions, but can be a way to make a name for yourself. The stories published in The Atlantic Monthly regularly appear in year's best anthologies. Archived stories are available on their website to help study the market.

The New Yorker

Similar to The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker is well known for its contributions to the literary fiction genre. The magazine recently made a switch to an online submission system with an odd requirement that submissions are uploaded only in PDF form. There are a number of PDF converters available for free on the Web, so this isn't onerous. You can learn more about what they're looking for by reading the fiction they include on the website.


This magazine is published by Francis Ford Coppola and provides a home for short fiction, one-act plays, and artwork. It has published a good number of well-known authors and received every major award for its content. Submissions can be sent by postal mail or through joining the virtual writers' workshop offered free to interested authors.

Glimmer Train

Glimmer Train publishes literary fiction with heart and is known for its compelling stories. They have an online submissions system that allows authors to track their works through the process. Submissions are welcome year round, but submission periods are split between the standard submissions, which pay less but have no reading fee, and contests, which have a small entry fee and a larger payment if you win.

The Yale Review

Since much of the status in literary fiction has to do with the college or university that hosts the magazine, the Ivy League school reviews are a worthwhile target for your literary fiction submissions. The Yale Review, in its current incarnation, dates from 1911 and has seen a long list of distinguished writers and thinkers between its pages. The guidelines are simply a request to look at their magazine, but you can get some sense of what they're looking for from the first page teasers on their publisher's site here: All submissions must be sent by postal mail, and they are not open to unsolicited manuscripts until summer 2011.

The Virginia Quarterly Review

In contrast to The Yale Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review has very clear guidelines that address the type of writing, genre, and length they're interested in so you should be able to determine if your literary fiction has a chance here. Not only that, but they're one of the few academic reviews who offer an electronic submission system with no charge, while they pay, on average, 3 to 4 times the going pro rate for speculative fiction. They have specific reading periods, so make sure to check the guidelines before submitting.

Tin House

This literary magazine is a little on the wild side for the literary genre, with themed issues tackling ideas usually left to commercial fiction such as speculative fiction and the mysterious, but with a literary flavor. Stories first seen in Tin House issues have been included in "Best of" anthologies and the like. While this market only accepts print submissions, in some ways it is ahead of its time. An example of the approach is found in the current submission policy which requires all unsolicited submissions to include the receipt for a hardcover or paperback from a brick and mortar book store (or a haiku detailing why that's not possible) as a drive to help bookstores survive these hard economic times.