What literary markets warrant critical appraisal?
When I first began reading journals, I had no idea where to start. There seemed to be so many, and after I found duotrope I was stunned to discover over 2900 listed markets, with several thousand more dead, or unresponsive markets for creative work. With the number of markets so high I started to look for ways to critically rank these markets for fiction and nonfiction. I choose not to make a list of markets I “liked” or thought were “good,” because my opinion is a subjective one and I wanted an objective list. I also didn’t want to separate markets into paying or non-paying journals. Instead I chose to look at the various prize anthologies that selected stories and nonfiction from these markets, so I could hopefully gauge the critical reception particular journals or magazines received over a period of time.
The anthologies I have chosen to rank are: Best American Short Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading, Best American Mystery Stories, New Stories from the South, Best of the West, Surreal South, Best of the Web, StorySouth Million Writers Award. I did not rank the Pushcart Prize because Cliff Garstang has already done a magnificent job at providing a list of fiction pieces that have appeared over the past ten years in the Pushcart Prize at his blog, Perpetual Folly. I also discovered that the PEN/O.Henry Prize Stories are already listed and ranked on the anthology’s website.
I want these rankings to act as a resource hub for anyone looking at journals. I also want these ranked lists to help foster debate on why some markets are constantly represented while others are only occasionally listed, and why many markets don’t make it in any of the anthologies, yet have such a groundswell of passionate readership that one can plainly see these unrecognized markets demand critical attention. This is why StorySouth’s Million Writers Award Reader Nominations are so important.
Best American Mystery Stories
Pretty simple. For Anthologies without a special mention section each market gets one point per story or essay. For those anthologies that have special mention sections, each market gets two points for a full length story, and one point per story listed in the special mention section of each issue.