Thursday, April 20, 2006

Perpetual Pushcart Project Preview

Since there isn't a lot of money to be made in writing short stories, it's a good thing there are prizes and awards, so at least someone has something to show for the effort put into the craft. The annual Best American Short Stories is both widely watched and criticized. Everyone seems to love the O. Henry Awards. But it seems to me that the Pushcart Prizes cast the widest net and are the most "democratic" of the major awards. So when I decided I wanted to analyze awards for the purposes of ranking literary magazines, I settled on Pushcart.

Rankings, it should be said, aren't very useful, except when they are. I think about them when making submissions to magazines, not only because an acceptance from a higher ranking magazine seems to mean more (in terms of bragging rights in future cover letters to agents, editors and publishers) but also because it is an aid in a submission strategy that targets magazines within the same tier, gradually working down the list until a story finds a home. It should also be said that what I decided to undertake has been done by others. But I don't know what their methodology was and frankly I just wanted to see for myself.

I won't reveal the whole story just yet--I'm still working at compiling my lists--but because I'm finding the results interesting (if not terribly surprising) I wanted to offer just a taste. So, based on my incomplete analysis, and taking into account Pushcart Prizes only for short fiction, I give you a preliminary Top Ten of literary magazines.

1. Ploughshares
2. Southern Review
3. Tin House
4. Paris Review
5. StoryQuarterly
6. Zoetrope: All Story
7. McSweeney's
8. Ontario Review
9. New England Review
10.Georgia Review

Stay tuned for more samples as my analysis continues!


katrina said...


Anonymous said...

It's too bad the current Southern Review is all essays - normally I'd be right there with you on that one.

Curious though - especially after your comments from later in the weekend - is One Story not in the top ten because of size?

Very glad to see Ontario Review in your list - consistently publishing authors like Greg Johnson, Richard Burgin and Dean Paschal keeps them high on my list as well.

Dan Wickett - EWN

Clifford Garstang said...

Dan, I don't mean to imply that I'm making any kind of qualitative judgments in compiling this list. I'll get into specifics of the methodology when I expand the list, but it's basically all about the prizes . . . It will be interesting to see where One Story lands when I finish, but it may require an asterisk!