Have you ever written a story that was so good you just had to get it out there? Have you ever wondered where and how you might send your story, taking into account the dos and don’ts of the industry and any number of specific submission guidelines?
Duotrope may just be able to help you.
Launched in 2005 by a small group of published writers and former editors, Duotrope is a writers’ resource offering a searchable database of fiction, non-fiction and poetry markets around the world. It also offers a personal submissions tracker for each registered user, and other handy publisher data sourced via user statistics and other Duotrope-based research.
It has been regularly acclaimed since its inception and was honoured every year from 2006 to 2012 as one of Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers and won Preditors and Editors Truly Useful Site Award in 2010.
The idea behind Duotrope was to provide a more accurate and reliable source of data for professional writers looking to submit to any number of publishers around the world. Does it work? Well, sort of.
Duotrope is accurate to a point, in that its statistics are only as reliable as the user base they’re sampling from. This seems like a small point but it’s also significant, as in this case, Duotrope is by no means a uniformly employed tool amongst the writing community.
I first began tracking my submissions data on Duotrope in March 2012. With each story submitted, I tracked the date I’d sent my story, whether or not the publication accepted simultaneous submissions, the story’s current response status, how long it had been since my initial submission. More importantly, Duotrope allowed me to track the mean average response time for each publisher, the maximum response time given by the editors of the publication, and when I could expect a response.
Looking at such data is encouraging, if not inspiring, depending on the market you’re looking at. To help the user choose appropriate markets for their work, Duotrope charts the slothful (those markets with the slowest mean average response times reported), the swift (those with the fastest mean average), the challenging (those markets with the lowest acceptance percentages reported) and the approachable (those markets with the highest acceptance percentages reported).
With this information at my disposal, I made the appropriate choices for submission and have enjoyed both acceptances and rejections as a result. While many of the journals I sent submissions to responded in a pleasant and timely manner, there were some who were a ‘bit behind in their workload’.
Duotrope has a handy function that alerts you when your submission has reached the estimated response time. This is helpful as a prompt for you to send a follow-up email. It’s not as handy a few days later, when you realise you won’t be getting a response to either your submission or your follow-up email.
At which point you start to like Duotrope but lose patience with certain publishers. Duotrope is trying to, if not give writers hope, then at the very least keep them informed about the submission processes. Finding out about the editorial processes in certain journals can be startling, to say the least; it’s none too heartening to submit to a publication you respect, only to learn its response rate rests at just under 60 percent of all submissions.
Duotrope was designed to make the submissions process easier for writers and editors. Its statistics seem fairly accurate, and are, if anything, a little generous when it comes to the response times of the more slothful publishers listed. One final question remains, however: In a publishing environment where the slowest publisher takes more than two hundred days to respond, and the least responsive publishers ignore almost half of all submissions, as writers, do we really want the truth?
Laurie Steed is a writer, editor and Killings columnist. He is currently completing his PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Western Australia.