Tuesday, November 09, 2010

2011 Pushcart Prize Rankings

[Note: The 2012 Rankings are now available. Go here.]

It’s that time of year again. The 2011 volume of the Pushcart Prizes arrived in my mailbox today, and I’m pleased to present for the sixth year my Literary Magazine Rankings. (All previous years’ rankings are linked in the sidebar, should you want to compare.) There are several developments this year that I want to point out, but first I need to make my customary disclaimer. Rankings of literary magazines are of questionable value. Most such rankings are subjective. Others depend on data that may not be available for all magazines, such as circulation or payment to authors, or response time. These are important factors to some and I don’t discount them. It’s just that diversity in these areas, and the advent of high-quality online magazines, make such factors problematic.

This ranking, on the other hand, is extremely simple. I look at the annual volume of Pushcart Prize winners and the list of Special Mentions included in the back of the volume. I award a certain number of points for a winner and fewer points for a special mention. I add up the points and make a list.

There are two important factors to note. I began this list six years ago using data from the volumes beginning with 2001. My theory was that older volumes included too many defunct magazines and, perhaps more importantly, most magazines have evolved along with literary tastes, so that the most relevant recognitions would be the most recent. This year, for the first time, I am shifting forward in time and have dropped the points awarded for 2001. This year’s ranking, then, includes 2002-2011, and I plan to keep using a ten-year rolling system. Next year I’ll drop 2002. As a result of this shift, a few magazines and presses that have been on the list thanks to points earned in 2001 have now dropped out. So that readers will know which those magazines those are, I’ve left them on the bottom of the list with zero points and designated them with a “DO”.

The second factor, as I’ve noted in the past, is that my ranking uses only the Pushcart Prize—not BASS, not O. Henry. The reason for this is that there is overlap among these different anthologies, so that some stories may appear in all of them or two of them. The “glossy” magazines are considered for BASS, but not Pushcart. Online magazines are not considered for O. Henry but are beginning to be recognized by Pushcart. While I admire both BASS and O. Henry, the Pushcart Prize anthology seems to me to best reflect the literary magazine world in which I participate.

Which brings me to the purpose of this list. I began the rankings as a way of prioritizing my submissions of short stories to magazines. I still use it that way, and I think many other writers do also. If Ploughshares wins the most Pushcart Prizes and Special Mentions, then that’s the magazine I want to publish my stories. If One Story is on the rise, I might target them before a magazine that is lower on the list. It’s as simple as that.

Note that I’ve referred to short stories. This ranking is only about the fiction prizes and special mentions. It would be a productive exercise to look at Poetry and Nonfiction, but I have not yet done so. I think these would need to be separate lists, since not all magazines publish in all three genres, and then it would be interesting to see where a particular magazine sits on each of the lists. Maybe soon I’ll get to that.

Now, what observations can I make about this year’s list?
  • Ploughshares lost ground, having earned only one Special Mention this year, but still holds a commanding lead.
  • Online magazines are more evident this year — notably Narrative, but there are several others on the list, as well. Kenyon Review is represented by both its print and online components, although I’ve combined them here.
  • Tin House jumped into 4th spot and Paris Review slipped to 6th
  • Ontario Review, which is defunct, actually moved UP in the rankings because Georgia Review lost points when I dropped 2001
  • One Story leaped from 23rd to 15th on the strength of two Pushcarts and two Special Mentions, the most of any magazine this year
  • A Public Space also made a nice move, entering the top twenty.

For more comparisons, take a look at last year’s rankings: 2010 Pushcart Prize Rankings 

Now, for some other innovations.
  • This year, the list is hyperlinked to the magazines’ websites, which I hope will be helpful.
  • I have again used the symbol © to indicate that a magazine is closed, but I think I’ve been more diligent this time around in discovering which magazines have disappeared. Two of the dead magazines are actually making their first appearance on the list.
  • I’ve also used a question mark (?) where I’m unsure about a magazine—if I can’t find a website, for example.

I welcome feedback. Do you have a correction? An updated web address? News of a dead (or resurrected) magazine? Send me an email or leave a comment below.

And now for the list:




    
2011
Magazine
2011 Score
1
113
2
82
3
77
4
74
5
69
6
56
7
55
8
48
8
48
10
47
11
45
12
40
13
39
13
39
15
38
16
37
17
36
17
36
19
35
20
31
20
31
22
30
23
29
23
29
25
28
26
27
27
25
28
24
29
21
30
20
31
18
31
18
33
16
33
16
33
16
36
15
37
14
37
14
37
14
37
14
41
13
41
13
41
13
41
13
41
13
46
12
46
12
48
11
48
11
48
11
48
11
48
11
53
10
54
9
55
8
55
8
55
8
58
7
58
7
58
7
58
Speakeasy ©
7
58
7
63
6
63
6
63
6
63
6
63
6
63
6
63
6
63
6
71
5
71
5
71
5
71
Bridge ©
5
71
5
71
5
71
5
71
5
71
5
71
5
71
5
71
5
71
5
84
4
84
4
84
4
84
4
84
4
84
4
84
4
91
3
91
3
91
3
91
3
91
3
91
3
91
3
91
3
91
3
91
3
91
3
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
2
102
Timber Creek Review (?)
2
102
2
102
2
136
Amazon Shorts ©
1
136
Antietam Review ©
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
Canio's Editions (?)
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
Eggemoggin Reach Review (?)
1
136
1
136
EWU Press ©
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
Hampton Shorts (?)
1
136
Happy (?)
1
136
1
136
1
136
High Plains Literary Review (?)
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
Lynx Eye ©
1
136
1
136
Margin (?)
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
Nebraska Review ©
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
Northern Lights (?)
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
RBS Gazette (?)
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
Small Town (?)
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
Stolen Time Press (?)
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
Transformation (?)
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
1
136
Words of Wisdom (?)
1
136
1
136
Xconnect (?)
1
DO
0
DO
American Voice (?)
0
DO
APA Journal (?)
0
DO
0
DO
0
DO
Heart (?)
0
DO
Joe ©
0
DO
Larcom Review (?)
0
DO
0
DO
0
DO
0
DO
0
DO
0
DO
Press (?)
0
DO
0
DO
Story ©
0
DO
Two Girls Review (?)
0
DO
WordWrights (?)
0

34 comments:

CMSMW said...

Ah -- finally! You have no idea how often I've been checking this site since the new anthology came out!

Anonymous said...

Really? Who cares? Who can eat10 copies of a lit review and survive?

Clifford Garstang said...

Since it came out? The pub date is NEXT week!

CMSMW said...

Cliff: My indie bookstore has it already, as does the local Barnes & Noble.

Anonymous: That's a bit of a false dilemma. I'm just a relative newcomer to contemporary literature who's interested in finding new magazines and journals to pay attention to, and I've found the previous years' lists very informative.

Clifford Garstang said...

Alas, my indie is too small to carry it, and the B&N is 40 miles away so I rarely go there. Anyway, I'm glad it got here and I was able to digest the index quickly.

bzobell said...

Thanks, Cliff. This is always so helpful!

Ann Graham said...

Thanks for doing this!

John C. Mannone said...

Thank you so much for doing this, Cliff...And I can't wait until the one for poetry comes out.

katrina said...

Thanks for doing this, Cliff. The results are interesting.

Sequoia Nagamatsu said...

Love the new look!

CMSMW said...

By the way, count me as being interested in poetry and nonfiction rankings as well. I'd be especially interested in the latter.

Jeff McMahon said...

Let me join the chorus of those who are thanking you, Clifford, for putting together this immensely important and useful ranking.

I wonder what you think about the impact on your ranking of the fact that Pushcarts only recently admitted online journals. You're counting back to 2001, but online journals have only been eligible for how many years? Two? Three? This seems like it might be a mathematical handicap. Did the online journals that do appear have to perform much more strongly in fewer years than the print counterparts that surround them?

I also wonder if the span of years 2001-2010 doesn't bridge a radical shift in the relative importance of the two forms. I can only go on my own impression, but it seems to me that online journals were the toads of literary publishing in 2001, but that since then they have increasingly become the most sensible place to publish. I mean, it's nice to be on paper but you hope your paper journal has an online version so that people beyond the limited paper circulation can actually find and read your work. I think many will probably disagree with me. But if not, wouldn't the span of included years be sort of sanding down that radical shift so that it looks like there wasn't much of a shift at all?

I hope you don't mind these questions. I think the list is wonderful both in itself and as an opportunity to think about changes in publishing.

Clifford Garstang said...

These are interesting questions, Jeff, certainly worth pondering. I'll spend some time doing just that, but a quick answer is that failbetter.com was recognized with a Special Mention in 2003, Blackbird in 2007, so online publishers have been eligible for a while. Even now only a handful are on the list at all, never mind being up very high.

I'll come back to these issues soon . . . Thanks for your thoughts.

Jeff McMahon said...

My questions may be way off base, then, Clifford. I thought the Pushcarts were restricted to print journals until recently.

Clifford Garstang said...

Well, one special mention in 2003 for an online journal doesn't mean the editor was exactly open to the idea. In fact, reading the preface to this year's edition makes it clear that Henderson doesn't think much of journals in cyberspace. I've never seen an explicit statement on the subject, though, unlike the O. Henry series which makes it a clear No.

Jeff McMahon said...

A few years ago I checked the website to see if an online journal I edit could nominate some writers, and as I recall the website said it only accepts nominations for work in print. I thought my memory might be faulty, but I checked with our fiction editor, and she remembers this too. So it might be the case that some online journals submitted anyway, and made the list. We didn't and we were surprised last year to discover they were accepting work from online journals.

Clifford Garstang said...

Wouldn't surprise me if that was the case, but since they also allow the editors-at-large to nominate, maybe it's the case that one of them nominated those early online special mentions.

I just sent in our nominations from Prime Number; it would be great if they got some notice.

Daniel said...

With all due respect, these kinds of lists seem too invested in a careerism-methodology, one which gives far too much power and credit to the higher “ranked” journals. Submitting to journals should be a matter of taste and principles. A list like this substitutes both for industry recognition — or at least encourages the process.

The larger effect that concerns me is how these rankings reinforce the lack of fluidity among “top tier” journals. The mindset becomes “these are the journals I want to publish in,” rather than “this is the kind of writing I wish more journals published.” The ten-year space for your sources only seems to echo this mindset, as that is a fairly massive span of time in which to cover a dynamic industry that is rapidly being redefined through the Web.

In some sense, this kind of list only devalues the concept of writing as a progressive art form: if journal X is consistently a top-ten journal in lists like these, more writers submit — and in turn, adapt their work to fit the styles of X — rather than sending their submission to the newer, fresher journal Y where the work is defining the style of the journal, not the other way around. Perhaps this doesn’t happen as consciously in some as it does others, but it happens, you know it happens. The insular nature of the industry has made us search for industry acceptance rather than industry change. And what is the point of that?

I do understand the utility of a list like this, to a degree, but filtering out such a list by personal tastes should be emphasized as a necessary first and last step in the process of sending your work out; personal taste is the most important and largest variable from which a journal gets its “score,” and it behooves us all to remember that that value is subjective, not objective.

Clifford Garstang said...

Daniel,
Thanks for your thoughtful comments. But I don't think the list reinforces anything. The list is a starting point. On the other hand, I see nothing inherently wrong with "careerism." Publishing in the better quality journals is a way of attracting attention and perhaps garnering the interest of agents and editors. A track-record of winning prizes is one measure of quality.

Someone who isn't interested in his career probably won't care about that, and so that writer is free to consider whatever else he wants when deciding where to submit.

But it seems that maybe your complaint isn't with the list, which is as objective as such a list can be, but with the Pushcart Prize itself. As for the ten-year time period, again it's an issue that concerns the Pushcarts, which are heavily biased in favor of print, as are most writers. Not most younger writers, I'm sure, but most writers. Which means that this will change. The Pushcart will adapt and so will the list.

Anonymous said...

yo Cliff,

Just so you know:

The link for A Public Space, as of 21 Nov, doesn't lead to the A Public Space website.

Thanks for creating and maintaining this valuable resource!

-f

Clifford Garstang said...

Oops. Thanks for letting me know, I'll fix it now.

Susan Tekulve said...

Cliff,

Would you happen to know how the Pushcart people want us to submit works nominated from online journals? I've had works from print journels in the past; however, I made forays into publishing in an online journal, and the publication was nomitated. I am unsure what to send to the Pushcart editors. For instance, do I send a print out of the online publication and a print out of the journal's website that shows when the story came out? I am clueless, so any suggestions you may have would be helpful.

Incidentally, I think this is a great resource that you are providing.
Thanks,
Susan Tekulve

Clifford Garstang said...

Susan,
No guaranty that I did it right, but when we did it for Prime Number Magazine we printed out each nominee (it works nicely if you first create a pdf of the story or poem; that way page breaks are likely to fall in a desirable place). It happens that the way our magazine is set up the issue number and date appear at the top of the story. But for good measure I sent them along with a cover letter that gave the issue number and date for each piece.

As I say, I just did what seemed to make sense; I have no special knowledge of how it's supposed to be done.

Good luck!

Susan Tekulve said...

Cliff, Thanks for your quick and smart response. Your suggestions make good sense to me. I appreciate your help, and I hope you have a good spring. Susan

Paulette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clifford Garstang said...

Paulette,
Oops, your post got deleted. Sorry about that. But thanks for the kind words!
Cliff

jon trobaugh said...

Clifford,

I haven't placed a story in any of these. Does that mean I'm worthless? I hope not. But I guess my real question is if a place hasn't won a Pushcart, what other criteria can a a writer use to find out what markets are not just legitimate but respected by publishes, presses, readers, etc.?

Sincerely,

Jon

Clifford Garstang said...

Jon,
For online magazines--many of which have been excluded from the Pushcart prizes--I'd look at the online publishing awards: Best of the Web, Best of the Net, and the Million Writers Award. Then check out those magazines that have been honored to see which ones YOU like.

For print magazines, it's harder to get hold of some of the smaller magazines, but again I'd say reading them is the key. See who is published in them and whether you like their work.

For both online and print magazines, take a look at the reviews on New Pages and The Review Review. That might give you some insight also.

Cheers,
Cliff

Eric said...

Awesome. I think lists like this are a great starting point for writers. Thanks so much.

Elizabeth Gonzalez said...

Thanks for this, Cliff - it's very useful to me.

Clifford Garstang said...

The 2012 anthology is on its way, so I should have the update ready very soon.

imsneakers said...

Thanks for doing this!

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By the way, count me as being interested in poetry and nonfiction rankings as well. I'd be especially interested in the latter.

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We didn't and we were surprised last year to discover they were accepting work from online journals.



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