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Future of (printed) SF magazines
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Author:  Roy [ Sun Nov 04, 2007 12:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Future of (printed) SF magazines

This is being discussed in magazine fora and writers blogs across the web

see http://windupstories.com/2007/10/31/sci ... ree-dying/

and 'our own' Jason Stoddards http://xcentric.com/2007/11/03/saving-t ... art-72185/

so maybe we should discuss it here.

How would you feel about receiving, and no snide remarks please, 'junk mail' from TTA?

Would an offer of two free copies induce you non subcribing readers to subscribe?

Do any of you own property in Second Life or a MMORPGs and could we sell the an e edition magazine in those worlds? Do people read in MMORPGs?

Author:  Roy [ Sun Nov 04, 2007 12:25 pm ]
Post subject: 

Another point. At Novacon yesterday I was told that Interzone was not 'feminine friendly' (my term) enough.

I had assumed there was no problem because 30 % of submitted stories originate from women writers and the 30 % of stories by women authors published match that ratio.

However I was informed that, on present trends, we should get 52% of submissions from women and in that case maybe our readership/subscriber base should be 50% female. We don't have any exact demographics but from selling at conventions I would say that the male/female split is not 50:50 so maybe we could do something to improve that and gain a chunk of readers.

Do any female readers care to comment?

Author:  JasonSanford [ Sun Nov 04, 2007 2:18 pm ]
Post subject: 

First off, I question someone complaining because 52% of stories submitted to and published in Interzone aren't by women. The goal isn't to have a numbers-driven statistical parity between the sexes; the goal to make sure that all authors have their stories considered equally and that there is no discrimination against authors who are women, members of certain ethnic groups, members of certain religions, and so on. If 30% of submissions are from women and you publish 30% or more of stories by female authors, then the problem is with how many women are submitting science fiction, not with Interzone being hostile to female writers (and I mention science fiction b/c Interzone tends to focus to a large extent on SF rather than fantasy).

Anyway, this is an old argument and numerous efforts have been made to address the fact that fewer women submit science fiction short stories than men (such as the attempt by female writers to occasionally "submission bomb" certain SF magazines). To see how big the problem is, check out the article "SF and Fantasy in the New Millennium: Women Publishing Short Fiction" and an update to the article" in Strange Horizons. According to first article, "only 26% of the stories published in the Big Four print magazines in 2001 were written by women (Analog 13%, Asimov's 28%, F&SF 19%, and Realms of Fantasy 33%)" According to the update's 2007 data, the situation hasn't changed much in six years, with 14% of Analog's stories written by women, 25% of Asimov's, 20% of F&SF's, and 48% of Realms of Fantasy's.

In addition, according to the 2007 update, "submissions by women varied greatly between magazines. Analog had the lowest submission rate, 18% of 239 submissions by women (men 72%, unknown 10%). F&SF, with 25% of 381 submissions by women (men 70%, unknown 5%), and Asimov's, with 27% of 200 submission by women (men 66%, unknown 7%), showed intermediate submission rates. Realms of Fantasy had the highest rate with 40% of 262 submissions from women (men 53%, unknown 7%)."

As the update states, "It seems clear that overt editorial bias is not to blame for women's low representation in short fiction. Instead, lack of participation by women remains the clear villain."

Do note I'm not saying that there isn't a lot of room for improvement; I'm merely saying that Interzone is experiencing what all the spec fic magazines see. And if that 30% number is accurate for Interzone, the your magazine is doing a better job than all of the big 4 mags except for Realms of Fantasy, and since RoF focuses totally on fantasy while Interzone is mainly SF, I'm not sure these two magazines can be truly compared to one another. Anyway, I'm not sure what Interzone can do to address this problem without drastically changing the focus of your magazine away from science fiction (which should NEVER be considered). Perhaps a themed science fiction issue by women writers? That might attract some new writers to submit.

Author:  Journeymouse [ Sun Nov 04, 2007 6:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Future of (printed) SF magazines

Roy wrote:
Do any of you own property in Second Life or a MMORPGs and could we sell the an e edition magazine in those worlds? Do people read in MMORPGs?


The only problem I can really see with MMORPGs is the "know your market" issue. As Jason has pointed out, Interzone is predominantly sf, so it wouldn't necessarily be the done thing in the kind of games I play and have played (currrently in World of Warcraft and previously Dark Ages of Camelot. The other thing is that MMORPGs revolve around quests and hunts. Many people don't even stop to read their quest logs, so would they read a magazine? I think it would depend on the game. You might be better looking at things like Second Life and the impending Metaplace

Author:  Roy [ Sun Nov 04, 2007 7:31 pm ]
Post subject: 

I'm learning stuff here, Thanks Jason and Jmouse

Author:  niall [ Mon Nov 05, 2007 12:13 pm ]
Post subject: 

Roy wrote:
However I was informed that, on present trends, we should get 52% of submissions from women


Do you know where this number comes from? If I've missed a survey of the gender breakdown of aspiring writers, I would like to see it.

Author:  Roy [ Mon Nov 05, 2007 12:40 pm ]
Post subject: 

Farah Mendlesohn said that 48-52% of readers (depending on age cohort) in her survey of 900 people are female.

I assumed this was a survey of SF readers.

Also there is more on submission figures at http://www.strangehorizons.com/2007/200 ... te-a.shtml

Author:  niall [ Mon Nov 05, 2007 2:09 pm ]
Post subject: 

Thanks. I admit it's not clear to me why demographics of readers can be assumed to be representative of demographics of writers.

That said, my null hypothesis would be that 50% of writers are male and 50% female, simply because I can't see any reason why more men than women would be writers (or vice versa), and that therefore differences in submission rates are primarily due to other factors. It was just that the number given -- 52% -- was specific enough to make me think there had to be a dataset behind it.

Author:  Roy [ Mon Nov 05, 2007 3:08 pm ]
Post subject: 

Farah has the data set.

"Farah’s survey of reading habits; the demographic split in sf readers is about 55-45 in favour of men overall but in the under-30 group the split is 60-40 in favour of women (and the under-30s read more fantasy). "

From http://vectoreditors.wordpress.com/2007 ... masculine/

Author:  Aliette de Bodard [ Tue Nov 06, 2007 6:04 pm ]
Post subject: 

Interzone seems pretty female-friendly to me. I don't actually pay attention to whether a woman wrote the story I'm reading, but there's always a couple, if not more, of stories I like in Interzone.

Quite frankly, my main beef with much of SF those days is not the male to female ratio, it's the fact that it's centred on White/Western culture, and especially American culture. As a half-Asian living in Europe, I'm obviously not very much interested in that.

Interzone doesn't have that problem.

(then again, I'm aware I'm not representative of the majority here...)

Author:  Sara Genge [ Sun Dec 02, 2007 9:19 pm ]
Post subject: 

Aaargh, just lost a post in the stupidest way.

Anyway, I'll repeat.

Yay Aliette! You hit the nail on the head.

The following rant is not about Interzone, since I think Interzone is doing ok in this aspect.

As a writer, obviously I want to publish all my stories. The more female authors you publish, the better my chances so yeah, 100% female authorship for Interzone!

However, my writer persona only cares about herself and is ignoring the big picture.

As a reader, I really don't care what your female/male ratio is as long as it's not obviously malicious. What I want in SF in general is for some 12 year old girl to pick up Asimov's or Analog and discover she can be an astronaut, or an engineer, or a Nobel Prize winning mathematician. I doubt this theoretical girl is going to care much about the gender of the author. Authors don't matter; the only people who matter in stories are the characters and I want the characters she encounters to be supportive of her dreams. I don't want female characters who're there just to supply clever quips between action scenes or to have sex with the burly detective. This theoretical girl (and I), don't care much for white male angst. (We don't care much for white female angst either).

I realize Interzone isn't for kids, but the same thing applies to stories for adults. A mag can publish 100% female authors, but if these women don't break the stereotypes, SF will remain US-centric, boring, white and male.

So far, what I've read of Interzone has satisfied me in this respect. I don't think there's a mag out there which has more atypical and non-rote material. I find the characters real and if sometimes the story is so crazy that I can't discern the gender of the MC, well that's cool too.

If you still want to increase your female submitters, you can always throw an extra line in the contributor guidelines a-la Strange Horizons saying you "welcome subs from traditionally underrepresented groups". SH has a slightly better female/male sub ratio that Interzone (33-43% per Jed Hartman's last years stats http://www.kith.org/journals/jed/2006/12/26/3767.html ), but adding a line can't hurt.

Author:  GaryC [ Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:07 am ]
Post subject: 

Jason Sanford: Perhaps a themed science fiction issue by women writers? That might attract some new writers to submit.

That has been done before, way back in IZ42, which was one of the first issues I read - I even bought it in my local WH Smith's!

If I remember rightly, much of the feedback was negative, though for more details you'd have to ask David Pringle or anyone else involved in the magazine at the time.

Author:  Tony [ Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:27 am ]
Post subject: 

Sara Genge wrote:
..SF will remain US-centric, boring, white and male.


It's wrong, I think, to stereotype all white US male writers as 'boring'.
Big difference between Rudy Rucker and Harry Turtledove!
:wink:

Author:  Paul Raven [ Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:38 am ]
Post subject: 

Tony wrote:
Big difference between Rudy Rucker and Harry Turtledove!
:wink:


Amen to that!

Author:  Sara Genge [ Mon Dec 03, 2007 12:40 pm ]
Post subject: 

Quote:
Sara Genge wrote:
..SF will remain US-centric, boring, white and male.


It's wrong, I think, to stereotype all white US male writers as 'boring'.
Big difference between Rudy Rucker and Harry Turtledove!


I'm not stereotyping the writers, but the writing (still, stereotyping is wrong, I know). What I mean is, a writer with a multi-minority background can write boring UScentric white male fiction and a white male US writer can write diverse fiction if he sets his mind to it.

Most readers only care about the story anyway.

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