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Market Analysis:

Mar's Market Analysis #4:
Fantasy Magazine

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


Finding new markets is only the first step of the research process. A crucial part is to consider what can be learned from the material already published by the editor or editors. This column will contain analyses that evaluate a specific publication based on one or more issues (or at least a month of content for webzines without designated issues).

This issue will analyze Fantasy Magazine.

Analysis:

In July of 2008, Fantasy Magazine relaunched an existing online magazine by converting to a blog format as an improved method to provide content to its readers. Though not a pro market from initial conception in October 2007, this free ezine has since increased both its standing and pay rate to attain pro status. The format is weekly, with a new piece of fiction published every Monday with four-to-five reviews and one-to-three essays added throughout the week. There are also convention reports and podcasts of earlier stories that appear to be posted as available. Archives from the date of the relaunch can be accessed using the standard blog tools, which means they are consolidated by month. You can also subscribe to the RSS feed, allowing for notification when new content is posted.

Despite the title, the ezine offers reviews, essays, interviews, and convention reports that focus on all the speculative fiction genres. The genres covered in the non-fiction include: fantasy, dark fantasy, horror, science fiction, magic realism, and mainstream thriller. Nor is the focus constrained to written works, with reviews and essays covering everything from movies, video games, and live theatrical performances (thanks to a tribute to L. Frank Baum and his Wizard of Oz novels and plays). The fiction offerings are the exception to this broad genre focus as they are constrained to varieties of fantasy.

This month was, perhaps, a bit different than the norm simply because of the large number of convention reports. Traditionally, May is an active month for convention goers in the United States, many of whom have to make a decision as to which venue to choose because more than one convention falls on the same dates. In this issue, PenguiCon in Romulus, Michigan; BaltiCon in Baltimore, Maryland; and OutlantaCon in Atlanta, Georgia were covered, the first through multiple perspectives. These reports offer everything from the personal convention experience to notes on the social aspects and the convention organization, all in the format of a personal narrative.

The reviews, on the other hand, while all taking a largely analytical bent, varied significantly in style. They ranged from first person point of view (POV) to third with a few using first person plural. There were almost as many present tense reviews as those written in past tense. Whether covering the staff's favorites and dislikes in old Star Trek episodes or looking at the story choices made in an anime-based video game or the social status of a Philippine novel, these reviews are as likely to show fault as they are to praise. The majority draw on cultural and social context to understand the creative work and speculate on its place within the genre. As far as length, reviews varied from quick staff pieces coming in at 295 words to a full analysis of an anthology at 2,813 with an average of 1,003 words. Reviews are not open to general submission and so the frequency of similar names and staff members is not surprising. However, the submission guidelines include directions for joining the review team.

The essays probably spanned the greatest variety in focus with everything from two personal narratives to an analysis of the treatment of cyborgs to a biography of L. Frank Baum. The two essays that were not personal narratives were both third person POV, but split between past and present tense. The writers are all pro-level except for one whose biography was unclear. Also, one of the essay authors was the managing editor. The lengths fell similarly to the reviews from a minimum of 747 to a maximum of 1,659 with an average of 1,071 words.

The interviews were all of authors who appeared in the ezine. Two of the interviews were given by a repeat contributor and the third by an intern. The interviews were: 747 words, 1,175 words, and 1,431 words, so an average of 1,117 words.

The fiction pieces in the issues I analyzed were all fantasy as is stated in the guidelines. Two, however, fell more specifically into literary fantasy and magic realism. Two of the pieces were podcasts, one a repeat of a story in the same sampling and the other a story that was originally published in March. One of the podcasts and another fiction work were reprints, the first translated from French and the second an excerpt from a classic L. Frank Baum novel. Across the board, the overall impression of the stories was that they focused on mood, regardless of which subgenre the story appeared to favor. While all of the offerings had something of value, two caught my attention more fully. The first recounted how an unresolved marital conflict becomes manifest in the real world. The second tells of a woman who is haunted by the voices of the dead, and hears others who communicate rather than scream at her for the injustice of death. Two out of five (since one was a repeat), is a nice ratio, especially since the others were fine as well. I can understand why Fantasy Magazine's fiction has won awards.

On the more analytical side, the fiction was all third person, past tense. Every author was a professional as well. The stories ranged in length from 1,875 words to 6,470, with an average length of 3,710.

At under two years in existence, Fantasy Magazine has gone from semi-pro to pro standing, including being added to the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) list of professional markets. While only 52 fiction stories are published each year and none of the writers in my sample of fiction stories was new, the market is open to submissions from writers of all levels and is worth the effort.

Statistics:

Age Publishing fiction since October 2007, relaunched in new format July 2008
Genre High fantasy, contemporary and urban tales, surrealism, magical realism, science fantasy, and folktales
Cost Per Issue Free online webzine
Author Payment Pro Rates ($0.05 (5 cents) per word)
Editor(s) Cat Rambo and Sean Wallace
Publication Schedule Weekly
Issues Reviewed All posts for May 2009
Essays in Sample 18 (including interviews and columns)
Reviews in Sample 18
Stories in Sample 5 (unique)
Poems in Sample None
Flash in Sample None
Advertising? None