The Low Cost and High Benefit of Using Duotrope

Duotrope, as of January 1st, 2013, is now a subscription based service. Why, you ask? Duotrope has this to say:

 “For over seven years, Duotrope has tried to make ends meet by asking those who use the website or subscribe to our newsletter to contribute a small amount. Unfortunately, only about 10% of those who have used our services have ever contributed, and we haven’t met any of our monthly goals since 2007. Quite simply, we can no longer afford to run Duotrope this way.”

So, in essence, because of the stinginess (or at least perceived stinginess) of the Duotrope community, their hand was forced.

Conventional wisdom might assert that this is a terrible decision and that the switch to premium based accounts would undoubtedly lower the traffic and use of Duotrope. I believe that this is false. For one, Duotrope’s subscription based service is a middling $5 a month, or $50 for a full year. For the services that Duotrope offers (more on that later), it is a veritable steal. I understand that I sound like a Duotrope spokesperson but I assure you I’m not getting a dime of your possible $5. From an affordability stance, $5 is less that what one pays for a soda and a candy bar anymore

Frankly, the $5 a month fee is worth it alone for Duotrope’s submission manager. Rather than having to keep a mental list or an Excel spreadsheet of all of your submissions and progress, Duotrope does this for you. Granted, it still requires manual input because one does not submit directly through Duotrope; to offset that, by reporting one’s submissions and acceptances/rejections, statistics are produced that give one an idea of how stringent or lenient a journal may be. For example, we may have all heard how selective Beloit Poetry Journal is, but at Duotrope, there are statistical averages: based on 1009 reports over the last 12 months, BPJ rejects 96.73% of all submissions. These numbers are not meant to dissuade an aspiring author, but rather give them notice of how selective a journal is, reinforcing the idea of submitting only one’s absolute best work.

Duotrope also features arguably the best search index for writers of any genre. Do you write erotic surreal horror stories? Duotrope can find a journal for you. General free verse poetry? Duotrope will help you to narrow down your results because you will receive over 800 hits. Duotrope currently boasts a database of 4,845 markets. Markets include print, electronic, and audio publications, 39 different countries of publication and payment scales from nothing to professional as well as royalties. A note on payments, however: “professional payment” varies between fiction and poetry. For poetry, a professional payment is considered anything from $50 and up whereas for fiction, 5 US cents and up (so a 3,000 word story could garner from $150 to thousands). There are other payment types in-between such as “token” and semi-pro. The best source of information on this would be 1) the journal in question’s Duotrope page or 2) Duotrope’s own glossary: https://duotrope.com/glossary.aspx

There are some downsides, of course. Some markets don’t update their postings very often so you will often have to check with the website for up to date information (though Duotrope itself lists this as a disclaimer on every market page). Navigation can be a cumbersome at times and even though the submission tracker is a great tool, if you submit multiple stories/poems in a single sitting, it can be a bit tedious to go through and manually enter information; the statistics gleaned from the tracker can also be a bit slanted at times simply because not everyone reports when they submit or even when they are accepted/rejected.  With these sparse qualms in mind though, the $5 a month asking price is more than suitable for Duotrope. The odds of you finding some of these markets based on Google or other internet searches is pretty low either from other markets padding the results with money or simply growing weary of dozens of pages without results. There’s really nothing to lose by subscribing to Duotrope. If you still go unpublished, the sheer amount of journals that are added to Duotrope monthly will doubtlessly keep your writing mind up to snuff. Who knows, maybe you’ll even publish a piece about not getting published. All thanks to Duotrope.

Bryce Bullins is a senior at Sierra Nevada College and currently an editor for the Sierra Nevada Review as well as Secretary of the Creative Writing 1185103_493500820740384_1027424062_nClub. He is majoring in English with a minor in music (classical voice). He has interests in philosophy (continental), sociopolitical systems, music, and abstraction. When not writing poetry or reviews, he is practicing voice or has his nose buried in a book (or e-book reader) or is polluting his ears with sonic vibrations.

One State, One Writer’s Group, 1600 Voices

By Chelsea Archer

As anyone who has ever moved knows, living in a new city with no friends or acquaintances can be daunting. Having lived my entire life in Reno, NV, suddenly picking up and moving to Oregon was both the most exciting and scary thing I’d ever done, of course that was before I got married. Being a writer, one of the first things I did was look for a local writing group that could get me feeling more connected to the community and pull me out of my anti-social bubble. In stepped the Willamette Writers group. With more than 1,600 members and four regional chapters, they instantly made me feel like I’d made the right choice moving to Oregon. I recently sat down with the Willamette Writers manager Bill Johnson, who was gracious enough to provide a few words of wisdom.


Chelsea: What got you personally interested in writing?

Bill: In high school, I had no interest in literature (I enjoyed reading James Bond novels and encyclopedias), but then I read a collection of best of year science fiction short stories. They were powerful stories that spoke about the world I lived in, in a way that literary fiction had never done for me.  They made me think. I started writing science fiction short stories.

Chelsea: How did Willamette Writers get started?

Bill: Willamette Writers was started in 1965 by a group of local writers. In the early days, they had dinner meetings with a speaker at a local restaurant.  It cost $10 to attend a one day conference. That was 1973. There was only one chapter in Portland, with a monthly newsletter. Membership was under 100.

Chelsea: What is the mission / goal of Willamette Writers?

Bill: To encourage and promote writers. We have chapters in Portland, Eugene, Medford, Salem, and Newport. The meetings are a place for writers to gather and share information, and the meetings also provide a place for authors and teachers to do presentations and workshops. We have a Herzog Writing Scholarship for high school seniors and college freshman and sophomores, and a Cynthia Whitcomb Scholarship for local teachers and students to attend our conference. Our Kay Snow contest is free for students in grades 1-12. We’ve had students and their families come to an awards banquet at our annual conference. We’ve even had some adult winners fly in from long distances to accept awards; people have told us winning a writing award was the highlight of their life. As more authors self-publish, we offer our members an opportunity to promote their work on our website, an email list, and our newsletter. We do a Books for Kids program that, via grants and donations, buys new books to donate to local organizations that serve children. We also collect gently used books to pass along. Our monthly newsletter is also a place where members can post news about publication or workshops.

Chelsea: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Bill: Mainly, don’t lock yourself into one style of writing. I started out writing science fiction short stories, wrote a few unpublished science fiction novels, then became a produced playwright, then a writer/director for video productions. Then I read manuscripts for literary agents and screenwriters in Hollywood, then became office manager of Willamette Writers. When a door opens, go through it. I ignored the people who told me I needed permission to open and go through doors.

Chelsea: What books inspire you?

Bill: When I was young, that collection of science fiction short stories had a huge impact on my life, and seeing a live performance of The Glass Menagerie on TV. It was mesmerizing. My young sisters were bawling as we watched. Kurt Vonnegut blew off the top of my head when I was in my early twenties. In terms of books, The Tin Drum astonished me. Most books, I have a sense of how an author wrote the book. The Tin Drum was beyond my understanding.

Chelsea: What cultural value do you see in writing, reading, storytelling, etc?

Bill: I see plays as the most primal form of storytelling. I see life itself as a story, and definitely things like politics as a form of storytelling. I’ve found in reading manuscripts that struggling writers often don’t understand the difference between writing for an audience and writing as a method to process their issues in life (emotionally numb authors write novels with emotionally numb main characters; authors who feel unacknowledged write novels with main characters who are acknowledged everywhere they go, while characters symbolic of the people the author feels in their personal lives who don’t offer the acknowledgement the author desires, often suffer violent deaths). In a larger sense, people can look back at the industrial revolution and marvel how people managed to survive going from living on farms for generations to crowded slums working in factories. A thousand years from now people will look back at the last twenty years and marvel how anyone survived going from an industrial to a digital society. Uplifting movies and sitcoms that help people relax and feel good about their TV friends are a part of how people survive in our society, for better or worse. The internet offers people a new form of feeling both connected and disconnected, but it’s the new world we live in. I’m not sure how this will play out in terms of storytelling, other than political campaigns and commercials being more sophisticated and compelling to a target audience.

Chelsea: What is the most important thing people don’t know about writing?

Bill: The difference between personal storytelling (stories written to transport the author or deal with the author’s issues in life) and telling a story to an audience, which requires a story, a plot, a main character who wants something, a point, etc.

Chelsea: Why do you think writers should join a group?

Bill: Writing can be a solitary profession, and for some writers personal contact with other authors is both affirming and inspiring. A few authors use networking to get where they want to go as an author (published, produced, etc). That said, some writers enjoy workshops, while others prefer to write intuitively and not explore their writing process. Writers should check out several groups to find the one that meets their needs.


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Bill Johnson is author of A Story is a Promise & The Spirit of Storytelling, a writing workbook. He is a produced playwright, has done film work for hire, and read manuscripts for literary agents. He’s the office manager for Willamette Writers, a non-profit writing group based in Portland, Oregon, with over 1,600 members. He reviews popular stories to explore principles of storytelling at his website, http://www.storyispromise.com

chelsea clarksonChelsea Archer was born and raised in Reno, NV. After earning a Bachelors degree in English with a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from the University of Nevada – Reno, she moved to Eugene, OR, where the beautiful landscape quickly began inspiring her writing. She is currently earning her MFA in Creative Writing from Sierra Nevada College. She also works as a Firearm Inspector at Cabelas. When not working or writing she enjoys hiking, scuba diving, and horseback riding. She is currently writing the first in a trilogy of speculative fiction novels that takes place in the Oregon mountains.