I have a certain interest in the state of online genre magazines and the recent Locus Reader’s Poll has provided me with some data to chew on. I’ve been looking into the magazine and short fiction results for the last two years and discovering that things are better than most people would have us believe.
This year, twenty-six magazines made the cut and ten (38.5%) are online. As expected, the “big three” took the first three slots, but in fourth is Strange Horizons. The only other online magazine in the top ten is Baen’s Universe (#8). Last year, SciFiction had fourth place and Strange Horizon’s had eighth, so online magazines appear to have held rank in the top ten despite the loss of SciFiction.
Of the ten online magazines that made this year’s list, only three of them (Strange Horizons, Baen’s and Clarkesworld) are fiction markets. Last year, there were four (SciFiction, Strange Horizons, Infinite Matrix and Infinity Plus), but two of those are no longer around. Online, non-fiction seems to have the upper hand in terms of number of ranking venues.
In both years, the top twenty contained seven (35%) online magazines. Three of these are fiction markets (15%). The representation of online stories in this year’s Locus Awards for short stories (6%), novelettes (10%) and novellas (0%) is definitely lower than the percentages the magazines themselves represented, but it’s not that bad considering the overall quantity of stories produced by each market. The novella category is a bit of a standout. They just aren’t all that common in the online magazines.
A few magazines are quite visibly absent from the final (magazine) poll results. Flurb had the third place novelette in this year’s poll, so it was definitely known to the voters. I also find it hard to believe that Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show sailed below the radar of so many. Perhaps having to pay for IMS hurt it, but that certainly didn’t hold back Baen’s or any of the print magazines. Infinity Plus (#21 in 2006 and a ten-year veteran) also did not place. What happened? Bad stories? Bad marketing?
What happened? Bad stories? Bad marketing?
Despite losing the granddaddy of online genre fiction venues, SciFiction, it appears that the landscape is quite healthy. There are many strong venues and new markets are popping up with what appears to be an increasing regularity. (More research for another day.) Several of the newer markets are paying “pro” rates or better. Time will tell if these have sustainable business plans or any degree of marketing savvy.
Take it for what you will, but this year, Subterranean Magazine (#10) switched from print to online and I know of at least one more print magazine in the top fifteen preparing to do the same. Is this a blip or a trend? Who knows, but it will be exciting to watch. It should definitely have an impact on the poll next year.
What do you think? Polls are popularity contests. Will online fiction start growing in popularity or merely hold its own? How about the awards and year’s best anthologies? Will we see more online stories represented? When will the big three start entering the picture (in full, or more likely, in part) or will we have a new big three to replace them? On a different note, should Locus break out fiction from non-fiction in the magazine category just like they do for books?