11 January 2013

the new duotrope

The New Duotrope
Anyone who read my review of Duotrope last June knows that I have been a fan of their services for years. As of January 1, 2013, however, Duotrope switched to a subscription service, rather than the free service they offered at the time of that review. Anyone who did not sign up for a subscription (which costs $5/mo or $50/yr) lost access to their submission tracker, statistics, and what was initially described as “most of Duotrope’s awesome features.”

What does that mean?

As it turns out, for nonsubscribers losing access to “most of” Duotrope’s features really means losing access to “pretty much all of” Duotrope’s features. Here’s what you lost if you didn’t sign up for a subscription:
  • Search: You can no longer search for a title by name on Duotrope, or search for market listings based on criteria.
  • Market Listings Index: That full list of thousands of market listings? That’s gone, too.
  • Calendar: If you were hoping to still be able to see the calendar of upcoming themes and deadlines for free, sorry—that’s out, too.
  • Interviews: Unpaid users can no longer see interviews with the editors of the journals to which they might submit.
  • Full Market Listings: These listings included descriptions of the journals, submission requirements, response statistics, and data on other journals users submitted to who submitted or were accepted to a particular market.
  • Submission Tracker: This is a biggie for a lot of writers who used Duotrope in the past. If you didn’t export your data by December 31, 2012, you lost access to any tracking data for outstanding submissions until such time as you sign up for a subscription.
  • Weekly Newsletter: The weekly version of the Duotrope newsletter included a lot of information, including new and updated market listings, listings that recently closed to submissions or were considered defunct, new contests, and more.
So, what does that leave you if you don’t subscribe? The honest answer is: Not much. However, depending on what you used Duotrope for in the past, there could still be some features you find helpful, including:
  • General market listings. If you have a direct link to a market listing (i.e. via a Google search, or a link shared by Duotrope on Twitter), you will still be able to see that market’s listing minus the statistical data.
  • Duotrope’s Twitter feed. Anyone can still see updates on new market listings, calls for submissions, and markets that are re-opened to submissions via Duotrope’s Twitter feed postings.
  • A monthly newsletter. Instead of receiving a weekly newsletter with up-to-date information, nonpaid users can expect a monthly newsletter with the “number of new markets added” (note that it doesn’t say it will tell you the names of new markets), “number of recent openings and closings” (again, apparently no names), and the “number of new submission reports received” (which, frankly, seems a little pointless). The monthly newsletter will also include the names of “three recently added listings.”
Is it worth it?

A lot of writers, following the announcement of the paid-service only Duotrope, have debated whether or not the services are still worth anything, or if it is worth the investment. Here’s a little cost breakdown to give you an idea of just what Duotrope costs:

At $5/month, you’re paying about $0.17 a day (in a 30-day month). For a year, you pay $60 at the monthly rate.

For the yearly $50/year rate, you’re saving about $0.83 a month from the $5 monthly rate, and paying about $0.14 a day (calculated at 365 days per year).

Now, $50/year doesn’t seem like much in the long run, particularly compared to the price of other things we buy every day (i.e. according to the Huffington Post the average American spent approximately $1,000 a year on coffee and $2,000 a year on lunch in 2011, and those numbers went up, not down, in 2012). Even the monthly rate doesn’t seem so bad if you, like I, order takeout at least once a month; $5 for 30 days is nothing compared to the $35 average I spend on a single meal that might last two days.

But then you might compare the fee to what you’d pay for other writerly services, like a subscription to a magazine or a service like Writer’s Market. Using Writer’s Market as an example, here’s the cost difference:

Duotrope: $50/year
Writer’s Market: $39.99/year

Duotrope: $5/month
Writer’s Market: $5.99/month

Duotrope: $30/6 months (at $5/month)
Writer’s Market: $24.99/6 months (flat rate)


Duotrope: 4,589 market listings (total—fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction including contests, publishers, print and online publications, etc.; as of 1/6/2013)
Writer’s Market: over 9,000 market listings (total—fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction including “book publishers, literary agents, online publications, contests, conferences and more”; as of 1/6/2013)


Using this collection of data, it becomes a little bit harder to say whether or not Duotrope is “worth it.” Overall, Duotrope costs more if you go for a yearly subscription, but could be a little less if you only use Duotrope a few months a year. Writer’s Market offers a comparative sample of a market listing on their “Learn More” page; while WM and Duotrope’s market listings are comparable, Duotrope does offer more in terms of stats compared to many other online publication databases (much more compared to sites like Poets & Writers, slightly more compared to sites like Writer's Market). And with a number of free services out there, it becomes even harder ... although it is also worth mentioning that none of the free services themselves offer the total package of Duotrope. The major question writers need to ask themselves is whether or not the cost of Duotrope's subscription is comparable or worthwhile compared to the "cost" of losing Duotrope's services.

What do you think?

For those of you who have used Duotrope in the past or were just introduced to Duotrope, have you paid, or will you pay, for a subscription? If so, why, and which plan did/will you choose? If not, why not? What services have you used, or will you use, if you don’t (or won’t) use Duotrope? Share your thoughts, gripes, praises, and resources in the comments below!

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13 comments:

  1. duotrope is good for people who are just getting into the publishing world. but once you've been in it for a while, you pretty much know what the major journals are, as well as the specific ones that you like and how difficult it is to get into each, so it's definitely not necessary

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  2. I bet that when I have more submissions/rejections the Duotrope Submissions Tracker will be unwieldy. But that's going to take a while.

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  3. I have to say, I think I've used Duotrope twice in my life, and never got into it. But on principle, I think paying for it is goofy. As a journal editor, I have to wonder if I'd have to pay to keep Curio listed; it would be really crummy if I can't access the listing. (Cheaper than all of the above is picking up the Writer's Market book in a bookstore, and sitting in the cafe making notes, then putting it back on a shelf... cheaper still is some judicious Googling.)

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  4. It's definitely a tricky business, particularly dependent on where you are in your writing career. I know people who swear by Duotrope, and I know people who swear it's pointless. I personally was disappointed to lose the access I had to information, but considering how much I love research, I'm excited to get back into the "dirty work" of researching lit journals myself.

    Thank you, all, for commenting! It's interesting to see the different angles folks are coming from in regards to this topic.

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  5. I've used the listings at PW.org much more than Duotrope for finding submission markets for my own writing and I keep track of my submissions in an Excel spreadsheet, so I will continue doing what I've been doing and go the free route to finding markets.

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  6. I'm disappointed to lose access to their information, although I like New Pages, too. I'm irked that I can't access my submissions database. I may subscribe for a month, retrieve and export my info (I should have done it before Dec. 31, yes), and move on.

    Another great source of current info re journals is The Review Review (www.thereviewreview.net). They offer a newsletter, calls for submissions, interviews, and as the title suggests, magazine reviews. Check it out. Their newsletter is a lively read! And don't forget Poets & Writers--not only a fine print resource but a great online resource, too (contests, agents, magazines, lively chat).

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  7. Linda, P&W seems to be growing in popularity among cross-genre writers; their (ever-expanding) database of journal listings (plus conferences, contests, jobs, etc.) makes them a major resource for many writers. I've not tried tracking my own submissions in Excel (I use Word), but have heard that recommendation a lot lately so perhaps should give it a shot!

    I've heard a lot of writers express that they are in the same situation as you, Gerry, having to decide whether they will pay for a month to export their data or not. I've heard of The Review Review but not given it a good look; it's on today's To-Do list!

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  8. I've never used Duotrope but it doesn't seem to be a very high cost for their service when one considers, for example, Flickr pro at $25/yr or something like that, and all the other little costs for show-off or track services. I know my magazine market pretty well and know who I want to query to and I've never really tried to submit any of my poetry or short stories anywhere so am not sure how valuable Duotrope would be. That's probably not helping, is it. :)

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    1. Actually, Veronica, you've put your finger right on what a lot of people are saying, and on both sides of the topic! Many writers have argued that a $50 investment in your writing career is no big deal, and that Duotrope's services are well worth that investment. Others, meanwhile, argue that much of what Duotrope offers is not all that valuable to folks who are further in their writing careers and more aware of the market. "Tricky" seems to be a good word for it, because there really is no definite "Yay" or "Nay" to the issue!

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  9. Khara, I'm glad you posted this as it's something many of us have been mulling. I was supposed to write a post on this for WSS, so will see if it's still needed or if we could just filter people your way!

    When I heard they were going "paid subscriber," I thought no big deal, figuring it would be $20. About half of the writers I've discussed it with think $50 was too hefty. Generally, poets seemed to find it more useful (I guess because of the multiple work nature of poetry submissions), or writers who are submitting frequently. I've had years where I sent a hundred or 200 submissions -- in that case, it would be worthwhile. On the other hand, now I'm focused on a novel draft, $50 seems high for the few stories I'll be submitting. I would add that, in comparing services, the main thing I used at Duotrope that others have not duplicated is its submission tracker. When a story had been out past a stated response time, I could go through D's reported data to detect if they were actively reading, how long others' submissions had been in line, etc. As for identifying target markets, I use Outlook contact cards to keep track of target litmags, and usually find the info from the publication's own site. Otherwise, from Poets & Writers listings, New Pages and others. Duotrope and Writers Market did not tend to give me the information I needed to identify my markets.

    Last thought: there is the option of subscribing to Duotrope in bursts, as you can get a 3 or 6 month "gift card". They won't have dumped your prior tracking info -- so I figure I could periodically (say, during a summer or fall submission burst) subscribe, then let it lapse until I need it again.

    Thanks, as always, for your informative post, Khara!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Elissa, for this really insightful comment. (I hope you write that article; you've touched on a lot of helpful points this post didn't, especially the breakdown of who might benefit the most from Duotrope's services.) That's a really smart idea regarding periodic use, and could make the cost factor a little more reasonable sounding, I think, across the board for a lot of writers.

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  10. I'm managing without it and there are alternatives now, like the Submission Grinder. Duotrope shot itself in the foot.

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    Replies
    1. I've not heard of the Submission Grinder, but I'll definitely be checking it out! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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Thank you so much for your comments! Please feel free to share your thoughts here; I look forward to engaging in conversation with you!

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