Four print mags here, each of which runs full-length short stories. I'll list them alphabetically. Which ones would you most want to publish in? How would they rank in terms of that?
Crab Orchard Review
I'll give you my rankings in a second. I ranked them holistically, but here were the factors I think were most involved for me:
*Profile (i.e. will it look good on the resume, will agents maybe read it -- that kind of thing)
*Impact/Reception (not circulation numbers so much as this: is there editorial continuity and a known aesthetic? Do readers know what they're getting when they buy the mag? How much might readers want to read the thing before they have it in their hands? How devoted might those readers be?)
For me, it worked out like this:
1. One Story
2. Avery Anthology
4. Crab Orchard
I want to offer some thoughts on this but before I do a disclaimer: I've got a story forthcoming in Avery Anthology. If they'd ranked low on my list, probably I wouldn't have 'published' it; probably I would have chosen to replace them. Obviously, right? But if I had replaced them on this list with Keyhole or with Hobart (mags that would have fallen in the exact same spot, at #2), there'd have been the possibility of bias of another type -- because I've submitted to each in the past and would love to have stories accepted in those places....
Anyway.... One Story. They pay well. Agents read it. People have got NY book contracts out of a One Story pub. Related to this stuff -- hopefully, anyway -- is the fact that there's editorial continuity, and that people love reading it. One Story scores high across the board.
One thing that's interesting to me about Crab Orchard: besides One Story, they're the only one that pays. Not tons -- like $20/page or something. But pay is pay. So why would Nimrod rank above them? They do better in 'Profile,' I think. I woudn't mind having 'Nimrod' on my CV. But neither of these does nearly as well as Avery in Impact/Reception. Nimrod and Crab Orchard are both funded through universities. I don't know that there's rotating editorship, but I wouldn't doubt it.
In a way, I wish Nimrod were at the bottom of my list -- because they do the thing I really hate most: they're a university-funded mag, but they run contests each year: pay $20 to enter our short story contest; if you win, you get $2000; if you lose, you get a year subscription to our mag, which we are unable to sell to you in any other way!
I often wonder what on earth people are thinking when they enter these contests. They've got a story, right? A story they like and think is good. And they're wondering, Where do I send it? They're thinking about that. So many different outlets.... How to know what all these different mags are looking for...? Then they hear about a contest. I know! I'll send my story to a mag that wants to publish the 'best' story! I don't really need to know what they're looking for, because they just want the 'best,' for their contest..... Yeah. For sure that's worth $20, knowing that a place is going to be looking for the 'best' story...
I mean, what do they think? They think that readers at other places aren't judging their stories against others and picking the ones they like best?
I don't know..... Maybe they're right, these contest submitters: maybe readers who are selecting prize winners don't just choose the stories they like best.... Maybe they're thinking, We could pick this story that rocks our world, this story we love, but instead we're going to pick this other one, because it's 'better'...?
Back to the rankings: Seen from the selling-yourself-through-contest-funds angle, people at places like Avery Anthology are really the good guys: they've got a vision for the mag, they seem to love running it, they send long notes to people whose stories they don't take, even though there's not much economic advantage in doing so.....
Is there more to say on all this? Probably. BUt time to go....