Wigleaf Top 50 Flash Fictions 2008-2016: The Movers and the Shakers, a Quantitative Analysis

Article by Rupert Dastur


 

On entering the world of Flash Fiction last year, I wasquickly pointed in the direction of the annual Wigleaf Top 50 Flash Fiction.

Wigleaf publishes their own Flash Fiction, but also releases lists each year that showcase the best flash fiction published by various online magazines.

What better way to learn about the short short form than to read the best of them and find out who was writing and publishing the little gems?

I’ve created two lists by tallying the 450 flash fictions that appeared on the Wigleaf Top 50 from 2008 up to and including 2016. The first comprises those publications whose flash fictions have appeared at least seven times in the Wigleaf Top 50. The second list names all the writers who have appeared at least three times in the Wigleaf Top 50.

Why seven and three? Because I was interested in the crème de la crème and beyond this the pool significantly widens.

I’ve also provided links and a brief description about the publication based on a quick scan of the website.

The  publications linked below represent 36.4% of the Wigleaf Top 50 between 2008 and 2016

Without further ado…

 

Top Publications:

SmokeLong Quarterly: 33

These guys really know what they’re doing. The entire website is dedicated to Flash Fiction. They publish things that are 1,000 words or fewer. Submissions are open all year round and they don’t charge a reading fee. An impressive website.

Juked: 15

A minimalist online platform that also has a print outlet. They also focus on poetry and short stories. They’re open all year round for submissions, though it can take up to four months to hear back from them. They don’t pay, but neither do they make a profit.

Elimae: 15

Unfortunately it appears this zine has closed down.

Dogzplot: 15

Run from a Google blog account, this feels like the edgy SmokeLong. There’s a lot of black and I couldn’t easily find an about page. Submissions sent via email, 200 words or fewer.

Everyday Genius: 13

Also closed down, which is a pity. It’s a great looking website and evidently had a lot of love and time invested into it.

Hobart: 11

An interesting looking website that is still going strong, with a relatively broad focus well beyond flash. They have the occasional print issue. Not much info on whether they pay their authors or not, but submitting is free.

Necessary Fiction: 11

An impressive, clean-feel website that evidently has some drive behind it, publishing new content every month. Although it looks as if their focus is short stories and other material (reviews, interviews etc.), I assume they accept fiction submissions under 1,000 words. No payment mentioned for the author, but no fee either. They accept simultaneous submissions, but expect a wait of a few months and note they don’t like back-to-back entries.

The Collagist: 11

Another professional website with a wide remit, and supported by Dzanc Publishing. They have two reading periods. There’s not much emphasis on Flash Fiction, but the number of entries in Wigleaf speaks for itself.

PANK: 11

Rescued from closure in 2015 by some lovely editors, PANK is a smooth website with a focus on poetry, short fiction, and chapbooks. Submissions look like they’re all year round. They have print and online stuff. Their Tip Jar submission (you can donate $5 when you submit stuff) is inspired. There’s a professional look to the organisation. Good stuff.

Conjunctions: 8

A slightly weird website, but still going strong. Print and online. Prose, poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Themed. Oddly, they don’t seem to accept online submissions. If you want to send stuff form outside the U.S. you need to contact them.

Monkeybicycle: 8

No ‘About’ page, but a tidy website that covers a range of things from fiction to reviews. Submissions online, all year, with a waiting period of about four months, no payment, but good rep.

Spork: 8

I’m not sure I understand what’s going on here or maybe I’m on the wrong website. It’s all a little confusing.

Night Train: 7

Unfortunately another website that is no longer up.

Matchbook: 7

A text-heavy website, with tiny writing, but still alive and growing. I’m a fan. AND they pay their contributors $20. Lovely!

Guernica: 7

A literary, artsy online website that seems to publish a range of material with some regularity. Not much emphasis on flash fiction, but a thriving, international vibe.

Booth: 7

Two thumbs up to this publication that provides online and print opportunities. They like fiction, poetry, non-fiction etc. It’s nicely set up, clear to navigate and up-front in what they do and what they offer.

Tin House: 7

Perhaps the oldest, most professional/business-oriented organisation listed so far, with cash and influence behind it. They accept stories & essays (up to 10,000 words) and poetry.

Corium: 7

Lastly, Corium. Run by two writers, this website is friendly and easy to navigate. They accept short fiction, very short fiction, and poetry. The response time runs into the months, but that’s far from unusual in this world.

 

With a few closures, I’ve added a few more zines that popped up with some frequency: Gigantic, JMWWW, NANO Fiction, Journal of Creative Arts, Nailed, and Green Mountain Review.

 

A few thoughts:

  • Online literary journals shut down. Quite frequently.
  • Not many websites focus solely on Flash Fiction.
  • Payment is rare and no one has any money – neither the writers, nor the editors.  
  • Waiting times can be long.
  • The look of the website is not always reflective of the quality content.
  • There are dozens of opportunities if you look for them.

 

And now for the writers…

 

Top Writers:

7x Claudia Smith

5x Mary Miller

4x Elizabeth Ellen, Kathy Fish, Jimmy Chen

3x: Kim Chinquee, Lydia Copeland, Matt Bell, Aaron Burch, Blake Butler, Lindsay Hunter, Kevin Wilson, Jensen Beach, Barry Graham, Sara Lippmann, Timmy Reed, Rhoads Stevens, Beth Thomas, Ravi Mangla

 

I hope other Flash Fiction writers find this useful. Please feel free to share the list and leave a comment below if you know of any other magazines that aren’t represented by Wigleaf but deserve consideration.

 

TSS also publishes Flash Fiction through our bi-monthly competitions., which you can read more about here.


Rupert Dastur is a writer and editor. He studied English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he specialised in Modernism and the Short Story. After Cambridge, he established TSS with the aim of furthering discussion, interest, and development of the form. He has supported several short story projects and anthologies, and his own work is in / forthcoming in The New Flash Fiction Review, A3 Review, Field of Words, Bath Flash Fiction Anthology 2016, and Bath Short Story Anthology 2016.