June 11, 2013 by Nathaniel Tower
One of the many challenges of being a writer is finding the right places to send completed work. Luckily, there are many resources available. Unfortunately, not all of these resources are free.
At the end of 2012, I posted a three-part series evaluating what I thought were the three main components of Duotrope’s Digest. The purpose was twofold: I wanted to see if a subscription was worth it for me, and I wanted to give other writers as much information as I could regarding the service.
At the time of my initial evaluation, I concluded that two of those components, the response statistics and the depth of market listings, were unbeatable. As a writer, I didn’t think I could live without this information. I also decided I would subscribe on a monthly basis to determine just what the value of the service was to me.
As of June, I am no longer a subscriber.
What went wrong? From my previous reports, I was obviously happy with their services. They provided information that couldn’t be matched in scope by anyone else. Sure, there are many other resources for finding markets, and there are many other ways to track submissions, but Duotrope did it all.
Before I get into a discussion of Duotrope’s worth to me, I must first confess that the cancellation was a bit of a coincidence.
My subscription was set to automatically renew through Paypal. Since my Paypal account didn’t always have adequate funds, I set it up to bill through my credit card. Unfortunately, one of the grocery stores I frequented (on my special Sunday morning trips with my daughter) had a security breach. While my card wasn’t affected directly, my bank thought it best to send me a new card with a new number. When I activated the new card, the old card was cancelled, and thus my autorenewal options on Paypal were no longer valid. Thus, my Duotrope subscription ended, without me actually knowing at first.
When I tried to log in to Duotrope in early June—during a break in the hectic relocation experience—I discovered I was no longer a subscriber. A little research led me to the aforementioned explanation.
Now I was left with the question of whether or not I should re-subscribe. If I did, it would obviously make more sense to opt for the full year subscription and save a little money in the long run. Turns out, this cancellation came at a good time.
Rather than jumping the gun and going with my previous gut feeling, I re-evaluated my usage. Turns out, I haven’t used Duotrope very much this year. I actually used it a lot less since I started paying for it. Sounds weird, I know.
Why was this case?
For starters, I have focused more on writing than submitting during the first half of 2013. With the time constraints of moving, finding a new job, preparing my short story collection, and getting set to publish Flash Novels through Bartleby Snopes, I didn’t have the time to spend browsing market listings on Duotrope. As a participant in the Write 1, Sub 1 challenge, I worried more about completing new work than sending it out to a boatload of markets.
I also recently became a member of two “Calls for Submissions” groups on Facebook. There are more than enough postings from places actively looking for submissions, and often these postings are more appealing or helpful than what’s posted on Duotrope. Plus, I gain more familiarity with these markets. It adds more of a personal touch to it all.
Thirdly, I discovered The Grinder (which I blogged about a few months ago). Sure, it isn’t as big as Duotrope yet, and I haven’t used it that much either, but it offers all of the same services (and it has the added bonus of being free).
With everything that is going on in my life, combined with these newly discovered resources, there just isn’t a need for Duotrope anymore.
I have my own way of tracking submissions that I think is easier and more efficient (you can download it here). I’m not really concerned that much with response statistics anymore. I can determine the quality of the publication by reading previously published work. A lower acceptance rate doesn’t necessarily mean prestige or brilliance. And a high acceptance rate doesn’t necessarily mean a junk publication. One of my favorite publications around right now has a very high acceptance rate. While having my work accepted at a place that only accepts 1% of submissions might seem cool, what matters more is how much I respect and enjoy that publication. Duotrope’s numbers don’t tell me that.
So what about that sacred response time?
Honestly, I don’t care much about that either right now. While it is nice to know how soon a publication will respond, it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, especially if I’m sending the same piece out to multiple journals. I’ll hear from them eventually. What’s the rush? Besides, quick acceptance and quick publication isn’t always the best thing. Oftentimes, the journals themselves give a rough idea of response time anyway.
There’s no doubt that Duotrope is a great service, but it simply isn’t a service that I need at this stage in my writing career. I can find all of the information that I want elsewhere without paying for it.
This is not a knock against you, Duotrope. I just don’t need you in my life anymore. We’ve had good times, and you’ve given me plenty. But it’s time we part ways.