How’s that for a clickbait title? It’s a mystery why internet marketing firms aren’t flooding me with high-paying job offers and consulting gigs.
Under my interpretation of the five star system, about half these stories made me angry or gave me a headache, about a quarter were a waste of my time, and only a quarter were truly worth reading. The overall average is 2.66 stars. Clearly, I’m hoping for better results in rounds two and three.
There were seventeen magazines that had at least one five-star story. Here are the magazines that had more than one:
|Magazine||Five Star Stories|
|Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine||4 (out of 15)|
|Red Sun Magazine||2 (out of 4)|
|Cirsova||2 (out of 7)|
|Perihelion SF||2 (out of 11)|
|Storyhack||2 (out of 9)|
I don’t feel like typing the table of magazines hosting one-star stories. Thirty-five of the forty-nine magazines contained a one-star story, and twenty-one of the magazines contained more than one. The worst offender was Galaxy’s Edge, with seven (out of ten). I’m still scratching my head over that. The magazine’s editor, Mike Resnick, wrote one of my all-time favorite short stories.
Next, I have a couple of wild hypotheses:
Imagine the editorial team at a magazine has sifted through hundreds of stories in their slush pile, and selected the twelve best for their next quarterly issue. They could put all twelve in the magazine, but wouldn’t average quality be higher if they chose the best six of those twelve? Wouldn’t it improve again if they chose the best three of the six?
To see if magazines with fewer stories had higher quality, I plotted the two factors:
While there is a (very slight) downward slope to the trend line, the data points are all over the place, with most of the far-right data points being above the line. For you stats guys, this dataset has the lowest R-squared I’ve ever seen. I’m going to say I was way off-base on my prediction.
My other prediction was that magazine editors would place their best stories at the start and end of the magazine. A good first story could hook pre-sale browsers, or purchasers who are quick to DNF. A good last story would make good reviews or word-of-mouth advertising more likely, and make the reader more likely to purchase the next issue.
Here’s my comparison of first, middle, and last stories:
|Story Position||Average Stars (out of 5)|
It looks like I was off-base again with first stories. I’ve only rated them two percent higher than stories in the middle. Last stories are rated over eleven percent higher than middle stories, so it is possible editors are saving their best for last.
Finally, I’ve always considered myself a “shorter is better” kind of guy. Once again, the data doesn’t seem to support my opinion, but this time I had the special effects team from Star Wars design the chart:
There is an upward trend here, but as in my other chart above, the data is all over the place, and the R-squared is very low.
For additional insight, I asked a child with a crayon to analyze the data:
To further clarify, I sought the assistance of an intoxicated spider:
This should be my last analysis post until I’ve collected more data. I’m planning to review a classic science fiction novel next week, a recent epic fantasy novel the week after that, and post my Planetary Awards nominations after that.