Is a Duotrope Subscription Worth the Cost? Part Two: Market Listings

This is the second part in a series of posts about the value of Duotrope Digest, which will require a $50 subscription for most features beginning on January 1, 2013. For more information, visit their website. The first part of this series discussed their submissions tracker, and I offered a free alternative here.

When I started Bartleby Snopes around 5 years ago, I thought I was doing something relatively unique.

Then I stumbled across Duotrope and discovered there were over 4000 literary magazines out there. And that didn’t include all the ones that came and went before my time.

Today there are 4599 current active markets listed on Duotrope. While there are plenty of other resources for finding places to submit fiction and poetry (and now non-fiction as well), none of them come close to the expansiveness or usability of Duotrope.

For the last 6 months, my favorite thing on Duotrope has simply been to go to the Market News and Updates page. Several times a week, they update with new markets. This includes fledgling markets as well as established markets that for some reason hadn’t been listed before.

Here’s what it looks like:

duotrope update listings

Why do I like this so much? Because almost every week, two or three new paying markets will appear. Yes, that’s right, there are still places that pay for your work.

My favorite so far this year was the new listing for Jukepop Serials. They paid professional rates before their beta launch. Thanks to a quick perusal at Duotrope, I earned over $100 from my submission to Jukepop.

As I stated in part one of this series, I made over $300 on my short fiction in 2012. Yeah, it’s not enough to raise a family or even pay for a year’s worth of gas, but it is a nice little sum that makes me feel like a real writer. I have to thank Duotrope for most of this. Yes, I did the writing and the submitting, but they told me about these opportunities. It would have taken me a lot more time to find them elsewhere. More time finding opportunities means less time writing, less time submitting, less time spending the extra money I made.

Duotrope is by far the most comprehensive place to find markets. It has the best database. Its search features are fantastic. Search by genre, sub-genre, length, etc. Search by anything you want. You’ll find a venue that works for whatever you have.

In part one I concluded their submissions tracker isn’t really worth the $50 price tag. Their market listings more than make up for that. Sure, if you only plan to submit to Glimmer Train over and over until they finally accept you, then there’s no need for Duotrope. But if you want to find new places to submit, new markets that pay, or the best place to submit your multi-genre erotic horror comic book short story, then $50 is a small price to pay. After all, it’s not even 14 cents a day. There’s a lot of people willing to pay $10 or more to enter a contest they have very little chance to win. Spending $50 to find new paying places (hey, a new market often equals lower competition) to submit is just a smart move. It beats playing the lottery, that’s for sure.

And even if your goal isn’t money, Duotrope can help you find the best places for your work. As I mentioned before, you can conduct hundreds of different searches using various criteria of your choosing. No other resource gives you this power.

Before I stamp my seal of approval blindly on Duotrope, I do want to call your attention to some other options. None of these sites have the stats that Duotrope does, but that’s a discussion for another day.  Any of the markets below can point you to great places to submit your own work and read other people’s work.

New Pages: Very nice site with lots of information. Unlike Duotrope, it offers reviews. There are plenty of great (and completely free) features here that Duotrope doesn’t offer. However, the market listings are no match for Duotrope’s. You can’t search very effectively, and other than the sponsored listings, the markets are just listed alphabetically with short blurbs. The site requires you to spend more time on the individual lit mag pages (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). By the time you’ve sorted through everything and found a good place to submit, you’ve lost a lot of writing time. But maybe you discovered a great new magazine that you’ll actually read again and again.

Flash Markets at Flash Fiction Chronicles: Jim Harrington does a great job keeping this up to date. It includes paying markets, word counts, and a few other bits of information. Of course it lacks the depth and breadth of Duotrope, but it’s a good resource for the flash fiction author. I’ve picked up a few bucks submitting to the magazines listed here. It’s a very minimal design with no search features, but there aren’t enough markets here to need a search.

Ralan: Great for speculative fiction. Separates the markets by payment levels. Usually pretty up to date. Like the Flash Markets at FFC, the listings provide the most basic information and require the writers to spend a lot of time on the individual lit mag pages (which, again, is not a bad thing).

Every Writers Resource: This is a nice site with a pleasing design and plenty of info. The search features are minimal, so it’s going to take a while to find what you’re looking for. It does allow for user ratings, which would be a great feature if more people took advantage of it.

Fiction Factor: Pretty much just a collection on links. Rather limited in the number of markets (except for the horror markets). Very minimal site design, but easy enough to navigate.

And what about all those writing contests? There are dozens of sites that share all the contest information (including some of the above). After launching the Bartleby Snopes Dialogue Only contest 4 years ago, I found dozens of sites to list the contest. A quick Google search will lead you to plenty of writing contests.

With all these other resources, surely you don’t need to pay for Duotrope, right?

Not so fast.

Here’s the bottom line: Duotrope’s scope cannot be beat. All of the other resources combined don’t have as many listings as Duotrope. Duotrope is updated more frequently than the others. It has the best search features. If you want to save a lot of time and find the best stuff quickly, Duotrope is worth the price. There’s a reason Duotrope is charging $50 a year while Fiction Factor will continue to charge nothing.

But if you don’t have the money lying around, this isn’t a case of the haves versus the have nots. Duotrope’s required subscription isn’t going to force most of us to be the 99 percenters of writing. Your work need not go unpublished just because you can’t use Duotrope. You can find everything you want in those other places. You’ll save money, but it will be at the expense of your time.


20 thoughts on “Is a Duotrope Subscription Worth the Cost? Part Two: Market Listings

  1. Great info again, Nate! Thank you! I do find duotrope so easy to deal with. I go to the one source and there it all is. Also Poets & Writers has a free listing of magazines, what they are looking for and whether they take online subs and sim subs. Another good resource. Thanks for your info!

  2. There’s so much more I could have said here. This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive look at any of the resources. I do want to add that Duotrope constantly checks out the various listings, and they even declare markets dead when those magazines stop functioning. Yet another great time saver from Duotrope.

  3. Not sure if my last comment went through. If it did, and comments require review, then I guess you can ignore this one.

    Anyhow: Two more useful resources. Poets and Writers maintains a literary magazine database. It’s not as comprehensive as Duotrope’s, but it works.

    Also, The Review Review (which reviews Lit Mags) has their own listing. Again, not as comprehensive, but useful.

    1. Joe, good eye on those resources. Poets and Writers and The Review Review are both excellent sites and would have certainly been worth mentioning in my discussion.

      There are so many resources out there. It’s almost impossible to include them all. This definitely suggests that a subscription to Duotrope is not the determining factor in being a successful writer.

  4. Thanks for this, Nate; I just found your blog. I appreciate your straight forward contribution to fellow writers. I will try your version of the submissions tracker against the one that I cobbled together some years ago. Also, I have been on the Duotrope fence since the beginning of the year and you just pushed me into their yard. cheers, Erik

  5. Nate-

    Just found this post as I am considering upgrading to a paid subscription to look for markets to publish my work. How do you feel about Duotrope a little over a year since you published this post? Do you still think it’s the best way to go?

    Thank you!

    1. Caroline, thank you for commenting. I actually stopped subscribing to Duotrope about 8 months ago. It’s a great resource, but I found that I wasn’t really getting my money’s worth from it. Partly that’s because I haven’t been submitting that much. Another part is that I’m not really that interested in all of the statistics anymore. I’d rather just find magazines that I really enjoy and submit to those places when I have something that works. I can keep track of my own statistics without Duotrope. There are plenty of great free resources for finding places to submit. Duotrope definitely serves a purpose, but it isn’t really for me at this point in my writing career.

  6. Hi Nate, Just found your site while researching on duotrope, thanks for all the help! Is duotrope US specific or does it cover markets across the world. I’m from London and am looking at the markets of london and Asia

    1. Hi Sandy. Thanks for commenting. Duotrope is not country specific. It features publications from all over the world. The vast majority are U.S. based. But you should be able to find what you need. There are also other magazine listings out there that can help you find publications from around the world. Duotrope might be a little easier to search, but I’m not sure you can search by country.

  7. I do subscribe to Duotrope because it is helpful. I do think the only payment I received last year was for a journal I learned about through another source, though. You say the search feature is great, but for me that is the main frustration. I wish it was more robust, if that’s the word I want, and I also wish it wasn’t so odd. Many of the categories seem backwards to me. Usually if I refine a search, I get three journals or none. And the three journals usually aren’t exactly what I would normally submit to. If I have a less restrictive such by dropping, usually, the “subject,” I get 300+ places to submit.

    I use it because it is pretty complete and there are so many new markets, but it still seems like someone could make a better, more complete searchable database.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. It’s too bad that the search feature seems to be lacking now. Unfortunately, it is still probably the best searching tool in the industry. However, if Duotrope insists on requiring a paid subscription, they should provide a top-notch service. You should contact them about this.

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