Vision: A Resource for Writers

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Market Analysis:

Mar's Market Analysis #1: GUD

By Margaret McGaffey Fisk
Copyright 2009 by Margaret McGaffey Fisk, All Rights Reserved


I realized with the previous issue that Mar's Market Report had been running unchanged for *GASP* five years. I'd been struggling this last year to find good, solid markets to profile that I hadn't already run. Many were either closed to submissions when Vision went to press or had already been profiled. With that in mind, I'm trying a format change to an in-depth analysis of a single magazine or e-zine market. I hope you find the new format as useful as the profiles. These analyses will evaluate a specific publication based on one or more issues (approximately a month of content for webzines without designated issues).

And to start us off, the first market analysis will be of GUD (Greatest Uncommon Denominator).

Note: I believe at time of press GUD is still doing a pay-what-you-can-afford sale on the PDF version of all issues. You refresh the payment page until you see a price you like. It's a good deal to check out a new market.

Analysis:

I chose to evaluate the inaugural issue because, though GUD has showed its staying power by completing a two-year publishing schedule, the first issue was not so long ago that the editorial focus should have changed interests much, if at all. When a new magazine debuts, the first issue can often be illustrative simply because this is the chance a magazine has to make its mark and establish a place in the minds and hearts of readers.

And what did the very first issue of GUD tell me?

As the magazine's full title, Greatest Uncommon Denominator, indicates, the issue shows an interest in outlier tales, those that might not fit within a more standard magazine, especially a genre magazine. All the works show a leaning toward literary styles, some with only a slight hint of playing with how something is conveyed while others are outright atmosphere-driven pieces of prose with little clear narrative. This issue has everything from a pure mainstream story--about the power of being more afraid of fear than anything else--to one about breast implants seconding as spam servers. It might sound like the stories are a hodgepodge of unrelated works running the full spectrum of odd but that wouldn't be true to the issue. The editors have done a wonderful job of blending the more literary with the less, and offering some commonality across them all so that none stands out as not belonging. Even the limits of sexual content are stretched with two explicit (though not graphic) stories tucked in amongst the rest.

Statistics:

Age 2 years of publication beginning in the Spring of 2007
Genre Literary mainstream/speculative fiction
Cost per issue $10 USD (hard copy)/$3.50 for PDF
Author Payment Semi-pro + royalties
Editor(s) Kaolin Fire, Sue Miller, Sal Coraccio, Debbie Moorhouse, and Julia Bernd
Publication Schedule 2 issues per year
Issue reviewed Issue 0 - Spring 2007
Essays in issue 2
Stories in issue 11
Poems in issue 12
Flash in issue 11 (including 4 by one author)
Advertising? No

While not every piece caught and held me, I'm having a hard time choosing a favorite. The authors whose stories pull the strongest are: A.B. Goelman, Shweta Narayan, Jason Stoddard, F. John Sharp, John Mantooth, Sarah Singleton, and Chris Butler. These authors stretch from a first publication to long-standing professionals. There is a lot of good content here if you are interested in the blending of the literary sensibility and the speculative one.

As far as analyzing the editorial choices, the offerings in this issue are predominantly what I would characterize as mood focused. That is, works where the text provokes an emotional reaction. This is true of the stories, flash, and poetry. The essays are a little more message oriented in that they try to tell the reader something, the first a description of presenting at a poetry conference in Taiwan and the second an argument for considering poetry as the emotional equivalent of source code in programming. Plot only drives three of the pieces, with the others either de-emphasizing plot or without a clear beginning, middle, and end structure. A couple pieces, one poem and one story, use the presentation format to entrance the reader.

First person is the most common point of view (POV) across all forms, with two of them even using first person plural (we versus I). Third person is split into limited third (including one story with multiple limited POVs) and omniscient third, with the limited third almost twice as frequent. And finally, there is one story written in second person.

As far as tense, the majority of the offerings are in present tense, with four instances where present mixes with sections in past tense. The lengths range from 65 words to 875 for those pieces I labeled flash, 49 words to 1,413 for poetry, and 1,556 words to 5,766 for stories with all but the last under 5,000 and most in the 2,000-3,000 range. There is also one novelette weighing in at 12,609 words.

The spread of author experience weighed heavily toward multi-published authors as is usually the case, but it bodes well for the strength of the magazine that the issue was able to draw interest from established authors. Interestingly enough, many of those with a lot of experience listed primarily literary magazines in their bios. There were three authors who appeared relatively new on the scene based on their listed publications, and two authors for whom this was their first publication. Clearly, the market is open to new writers, but at the same time not dependent on those who have not yet established themselves.