…so my first blog entry in almost two months just happens to come right as I need to be writing my final paper of the semester (topic: Would The Master and Margarita still be considered magical realism if the narrator weren’t so gosh darned cheeky?) – totally coincidence. Definitely totally.
One of the most frequently asked questions in the writing community (right behind “Q: How do you deal with writer’s block? A: By continuing to write.” and “Q: How did you come up with that idea? A: By combining something that happened to me, something that happened to a friend, and something I read.”) is “Where should I send my stuff?”
So, where should you?
There’s a big complicated collection of answers to that question. One of the most common answers is that you should read a lot of publications and find one that suits your voice, but to be completely honest with you, that’s just not feasible anymore. Some venues have undergone massive shifts in the kinds of stories/essays they’ve published in the past few years. With the dawning of online-only publications, there’s also way too many quality places putting out good writing to keep up with.
A better answer, and a more practical one, is to find a group of writers who you feel like you have a similar voice to and then see where they’ve been published. Again, this has its drawbacks–if you’ve found their voice by chance, they’re probably in one of the higher prestige venues, which you shouldn’t limit yourself to. While you can always shoot for the stars, everything I’ve heard about the top tier places indicates that if you don’t have a guiding advocate pushing your stuff on top of the sludge pile, your chances are slim to none.
So – it’s easy to make a list of places you’d love to see your work. You can send your pieces off to Tin House, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, McSweeney’s, Zoetrope, The Paris Review, etc. But once you run out of those places, where should you turn next?
To help answer that question, I’ve compiled a spreadsheet with data from the last ten years of the Best American Short Stories series. I’ve listed each story, where it was published originally, and which year it appeared in BASS. The big names are there, of course, but there are a lot of smaller journals that I hadn’t been aware of previously. I’m sharing my work to help anyone else out there asking the question of where to submit, because while I don’t believe there’s one good answer to that question, I do think that this list is as good as any place to start.
So without further ado, here it is – 2005-2014 BASS Data.
And in list format, all the venues featured with links to their sites (Note, some of them are featured WAY MORE than others! [The New Yorker alone makes up 44/201 stories.] See the spreadsheet for details.):
a Public Space
American Short Fiction
Atlantic Fiction for Kindle
Bellevue Literary Review
Black Warrior Review
Fantasy and Science Fiction
Fifth Wednesday Journal
New England Review
New Ohio Review
Santa Monica Review
Virginia Quarterly Review
(I started this project several years ago. Knowing now that the bulk of my publications would be nonfiction, I probably should’ve done the Essays series instead, but hey, that can be a project for later this summer.)
One final note is that I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you’re better off finding theme issues and theme publications – it seems like there’d be less competition that way. As examples, Orion is focused on writing related to nature, Bellevue Literary Review publishes pieces relating to healthcare, Image wants Judeo-Christian-related work, and Callaloo seeks writings borne out of the African Diaspora. Tin House and several others frequently do themed issues, as well. There’s also the time factor to consider – a lot of these are published by graduate students, so consider when is best to try to get a graduate student to read something. On one hand, they’re busy at the end of the semester, on the other hand, if they’ve had a dearth of quality submissions, the end of the semester might see their expectations lowered.
I would like to point out that there are places out there not on this list that I hold in high esteem, but making a list of those would be way too amorphous of a project. If you want a taste of them, though, check out the fiction I’ve put up at /r/contemporaryshortform.
So, yeah. Hope that helps.