I've been wondering. I counted up yesterday, and with all my poetry, non-fiction and short stories, my work is submitted to a total of 29 different magazines. So this is something I really need to understand better. How do you assess a literary magazine?
How do you judge the quality of a magazine? The only real litmus test that I know is whether or not a magazine has been anthologized in Best American. Those are some obvious ones, like The New Yorker, McSweeney's, Ploughshares, Black Warrior Review, Granta, etc. What are some other tests? How do you tell if a magazine is considered a "high quality" magazine or not? I believe there are certain awards out there that one could use, but I'm not too aware of what those are.
How do you tell if your work would be a good fit in a magazine? The best answer is to read it, but even then, it is nearly impossible to be objective about ones own work, so even if you read a magazine cover to cover it might still be difficult to judge whether your work is what they are looking for. So how do you tell? Is there a poor persons answer for people who can't afford to buy the magazine, and so can't read it?
I would really appreciate some of your ideas. What are the criteria you use? What seems to work best for you?