There are thousands of listings of litary journals, commercial magazines that include creative writing, eZines, etc., including Poets & Writers classifieds (http://www.pw.org), AWP Chronicle, Writer's, Artist's, Poet's Market, Writer's Digest, etc. etc. But how to use? How to decide?
1) By content.
Identify your subject, and who is likely to be interested in publishing creative writing on that subject. Is it Feminist? Serbian? Formal? Visual? Look for publications which specialize in publishing creative writing on the same theme, or look for publications with special theme issues, or look for publications which publish all sorts of content on a theme who occasionally publish pieces of creative writing on that theme.
2) Write "to" the publication / CFW.
Maybe you don't have anything ready to send, but are seeking some writing prompts. Why not look at what publications are asking for, and attempt to deliver it? For example, here are calls for work for anthologies (generally more prestigious credits than periodical publication) from the most recent pw.org classifieds:
(BLANK) BEGINS at conception. Seeking essays for an anthology about female experiences with reproduction. All perspectives welcome: infertility, pregnancy, adoption, abortion, parenthood, deciding to remain child-free, etc. Target audience is anyone looking for a broader perspective on reproductive choices. Send queries and submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE POWER of the Center, a Wising Up Press anthology. In a time of troubling polarization, we invite submissions on how we have used social centrality to promote inclusion and change. Essays/memoirs personal experience, thoughtful and emotionally evocative. less than 4,000 words. B&W photographs/artwork: less than 5. Deadline: June 1. E-mail to email@example.com. Guidelines: www.universaltable.org/powerofcenter.html.
Say it Loud: Poems about James Brown. Edited by: Mary E. Weems, and Michael Oatman.
We grew up on James Brown’s Hit Me! When he danced every young Black man wanted to move, groove and look like him. Mr. Brown wasn’t called the hardest workingman in show business because he wasn’t. Experiencing a James Brown show was like getting your favourite soul food twice, plus dessert. His songs, like black power fists you could be proud of and move to at the same time. When Mr. Brown sang make it funky we sweated even in the wintertime. Losing him was like losing somebody in our family. This is a shout out for poems about the impact James Brown had on our lives. Poems that will help people remember, honour, and celebrate his legacy. Don’t be left in a cold sweat, send us your old and new James Brown poems today.
Submission Guidelines: 3-5 Unpublished and/or published poems with acknowledgement included. No longer than 73 lines Deadline: April 30, 2008 (Receipt not postmark) Send hard copies along with a Word Document and short bio on a CD to: Dr. Mary E. Weems / Education Department / John Carroll University / 20700 North Park Blvd. / University Hts., Ohio 44118 / Send via e-mail attachment (Word Documents Only) to: firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com
3) Track writers: where writers you admire or writers whose style or subject matter may be similar to yours are publishing. Use these publications to track down other writers as well as the publications.
You read a work by a younger contemporary writer you admire. Google the name or do another search to find a bio which lists credits, such as "published in blah, blah magazine, the journal of blah, and the annual best of blah anthology 2007." Then look at blah, blah magazine. Look at the work of the author that they chose. Read any editorial statement (with a grain of salt -- read it alongside what seems to be chosen in practice, and compare it to the statements). Read the other works published in the publication.
Variation: read a book published by a writer you admire, etc. Read other writers published by the press, but also look at the acknowledgements page. Are you familiar with the journals which have published the writer you admire? Look them up.
4) Track publications. If you have the "best genre work year" anthologies, take a look at the list of publications contributing to the anthology. Are you familiar with them? Look at the link list for online journals, especially for journals that keep appearing on list after list. Look at the bios in a publication you admire. Are there are publications that appear in one or more contributor's credits? Look it up!