Dear Miss Snark,
I don’t usually write short stories, but recently one popped out fully baked, much to my surprise, and it is quite good. It’s a literary psychological suspense story.
I’m an unpubbed writer. I’m querying agents with a humorous crime novel, and working on a literary crime novel.
I’d like to send my short story to some magazines/journals for consideration. Which magazines would make the best publication credit to dress up my query letters for either the current or the new book? I’d like to start by sending it out to the top magazine and then work my way down the list.
Well, then you start with the New Yorker of course. And the Paris Review.
However, you're over analyzing this.
I'm not going to pass on reading your stuff if you're published in Spinetingler rather than the New Yorker. I like Spinetingler just fine. And Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine too. Neither one is the New Yorker, and they don't ever say they are.
All three of them though have exactly what I'm looking for in a pub credit: someone other than your mom who thinks you don't suck. If I've heard of the magazine, great. If I haven't, I'll google it. I find all sorts of good mags and zines from query letters.
Don't worry about the best place for your stuff. Just get it published by a magazine with editorial oversight and a web presence that gives me confidence.