I have to admit an embarrassing fascination with reports and charts. Over the years I’ve drawn charts of how far I ride my bike, asthma attacks, my salary growth, my net worth, temperature trends, computing performance and capacity, and any number of other things that could be quantifiably measured over time. I must admit a particular weakness for software like Excel and Quicken, which allow me to indulge in this obsessive behavior without resorting to easel-pad sized graph paper and a slide rule.
DargonZine is, of course, a natural outlet for this compulsion. I’ve got graphs and reports about things you’d expect, like how many readers we’ve had, how much fiction we’ve printed each year, and how much traffic our Web site gets each month. Then there are some additional statistics, like how many stories each writer has produced, and the elements of the Dargon milieu that get referenced most frequently.
The data relating to Dargon people, places, and things is a particularly fertile ground for inquiry. When a writer uses a character or place that someone else introduced in a previous story (as opposed to something they themselves created), that’s what we call “borrowing”. In true data fiend fashion, I have reports that indicate which elements are most frequently borrowed, which writers have borrowed the most, and which writers have created things that are borrowed most often.
If that sounds a little compulsive, consider that I’ve also been known to create charts of the ages of our writers, their levels of participation, and personality traits like their preferred quantity and method of receiving criticism!
So I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some numbers that piqued my curiosity this morning. I found myself wondering how many of our readers had been around since we started keeping detailed records of subscriptions back in 1994.
What I found was that about 12 percent of our current subscribers have been here for more than six years, and that fully one quarter of our readers have been with us for more than four years. That kind of loyalty is a pleasant surprise, and it’s really great to know that there are so many people out there who value our work enough to stay with us for so long!
Of course, all statistics can be interpreted differently, so I then turned the question around: are those numbers high only because we’ve recently done a poor job recruiting new readers? Well, half our readers joined DargonZine within the past two years, so I don’t think so. Furthermore, of the people who subscribed to DargonZine in the past year, about 60 percent of them are still with us. Interestingly, of the readers whom we lost in the past two years, only one in five unsubscribed; the rest were removed from our distribution list because their email addresses became inactive. For an Internet publication, that’s an amazingly high retention rate. From all that, I infer that our readers seem to like what we’ve been doing. That’s good, because we’re back again in this issue with more of the same!
The issue begins with longstanding favorite Mark Murray, whose standalone story introduces us to a new setting that will appear in several forthcoming stories: the recently-founded village of Nulain. We continue with a great first story from our second new Dargon writer of the year, Charles Schweppe. Charles’ story is given color from his background in medieval history, and we really look forward to more great tales from him. And the issue concludes with “A Woman’s Prayer”, the last chapter in P. Atchley’s three-part series about Rasine and her daughter Oriel.
So, for those readers who have been with us for years, I offer my thanks as well as the gratitude of all our writers. And for those of you who are only just getting settled with DargonZine, I hope you enjoy the great reading material we provide, and that we can share our journeys throughout the years to come! Thanks, and enjoy!