Last year, I made a stink about the change in Locus Magazine’s method of counting votes in their annual poll. In short, I was upset about their decision to start counting votes from subscribers twice and how this decision was made after the polls were closed. In my mind, this seriously damaged their credibility. Well, the results from the most recent poll have been published in their latest issue and their actions last year definitely had an impact. Here’s what they had to say:
Last year, I did an analysis of how online magazines were represented in the results of the Locus Poll and was looking forward to comparing this year’s results to last. The July issue is out and I jumped right to the numbers.
The first thing I see is that online magazines are well-represented in the magazine results: Subterranean (5th), Jim Baen’s Universe (8th), Strange Horizons (9th), Ansible (13th), Clarkesworld (14th), SFSite (15th), Fantasy Magazine (16th), SFRevu (21st), and IROSF (22nd). Locus counts only eight online magazines, where I see nine. My bet is they considered Subterranean a print magazine.
However, the next thing I see really bothers me and completely invalidates any year-to-year analysis I had planned:
“Results were tabulated using the system put together by webmaster Mark Kelly, with Locus staffers entering votes from mail-in ballots. Results were available almost as soon as the voting closed, much sooner than back in the days of hand-counting. Non-subscribers outnumbered subscribers by so much that, in an attempt to better reflect the Locus magazine readership, we decided to change the counting system, so now subscriber votes count double. (Non-subscribers still managed to out-vote subscribers in most cases where there was disagreement.)”
They changed the vote counting system after the polls closed. If they were so concerned about the results reflecting reader opinion, why allow non-subscribers the chance to vote in the first place? Doing something like this makes it seem like they were unhappy with the results and put a fix in. Given their long-standing reputation, I’m sure that wasn’t their plan, but what were they thinking?
I think this action significantly hurts the credibility of the poll and the Locus Awards. By their own admission, changing how they counted the votes took the Best First Novel Award away from Patrick Rothfuss and handed it to Joe Hill. That’s just a horrible way to lose and a horrible way to win.
I’d love to get my hands on the raw data and see how things really shook out.
The 38th Annual Locus Poll and Survey closes in just five days. Last year Clarkesworld Magazine managed to find a place in the final results and I’m hoping people are happy enough with our 2007 stories that we can do even better this year. Additionally, three of our stories have made the ballot this year:
and if your personal favorite isn’t there, you can always write it in.
You don’t have to be a Locus subscriber to participate, so if you haven’t already voted, please do it soon…. and if you vote (or have voted) for Clarkesworld in the Best Magazine or Fanzine category or for one of our stories, THANK YOU!
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?
The detailed results for the Locus Poll are out and I’m very pleased by Clarkesworld Magazine’s finish in the magazine category:
We only published three issues in 2006 (6 stories), so this is completely unexpected. Thanks to everyone who voted for us, especially those 15 people who submitted first place votes. I hope we’re continuing to live up to your expectations.