Do prize-winning literary journals pay?

There’s an expression, you get what you pay for — but not necessarily in fiction. Below, find a list of the top 31 journals publishing flash (short stories less than 1000 words) as determined by the number of pieces they published that won Best Small Fictions, Best Microfiction, the O. Henry Prize, Best American Short Stories, Wigleaf Top 50, and the Pushcart Prize within the last two years.

These stories are supposed to be the best of the best — at least as determined by their peers. But are the best-laureled among the best-paying?

Yes and no. While 58.6% of these journals don’t pay writers, the top 15 overwhelmingly do, with number one listee New Yorker shelling out an estimated $1,500 per story. Others pay more modestly: $25-$100 seems to be the norm.

What’s more common among winners is their lack of submission fee: Only three (9.68%) have writers pay them to consider publishing their work. This may mean that journals that do charge fees are pricing themselves out of flash fiction’s best. 

RankOutletPoints*Submission FeePays?
1The New Yorker38.5$0varies – abt $1,500 up**
2X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine15$0N/A
3Ploughshares14$0$45
4Wigleaf13$0N/A
5No Contact12$0N/A
5Okay Donkey12$0N/A
6American Short Fiction11.5$3“competitive”
6HAD11.5$0N/A
6Smokelong11.5$0$50
7Cincinnati Review11$0$50
7Fractured Lit11$0$50-$75
7Kenyon Review11$0$40-$450
7Lost Balloon11$0N/A
7Paris Review11$0reported up to $1,000
7Trampset11$0$25
8Flash Frontier10.5$0N/A
8The Southern Review10.5$3$50
9McSweeney’s Quarterly10$0$400
9New Flash Fiction Review10$0N/A
10Atticus Review9N/A
10Electric Literature9$0$100
10Monkeybicycle9$0N/A
10Passages North9$0N/A
10Pithead Chapel9$0N/A
10The Citron Review9$0N/A
11Atlas & Alice8.5$0N/A
11Pidgeonholes8.5$0N/A
12Cease, Cows8$0N/A
12Milk Candy Review8$0N/A
13Hobart7.5$0N/A
13The Offing7.5$0$25-100

NOTE: Payment and submission fee details subject to change.
*The point value is assessed by the number of winning stories in the awards mentioned above.
**New Yorker amount estimate based on input from a number of writers (who all received different rates) and Dan Baum’s figures stating he was paid $7,550 for a 5,000 word article.


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Terena Bell
Author: Terena Bell

Terena Bell has reported on books and writing for The Boston Globe, The Guardian, Smithsonian Magazine, and others. Her debut short story collection, Tell Me What You See, published with Whiskey Tit in 2022. A Sinking Fork, Kentucky native, she lives in New York. Learn more at terenabell.com.

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