duotropeA few years ago, back when I used to spend a fair amount of my time writing fiction and under the deluded belief that I was one day going to be a successful author, I used to love wandering through the pages of Duotrope. For those that don’t know, Duotrope is an online resource for writers. Users were able to search the available markets for stories that they had written by running the very simple search engine, narrowing down the market bit by bit until they were left with a select few: An ideal list to submit to in the hopes of success.

Dating websites would work a lot better if they used the Duotrope model.

One of the great things about the site was that it was free. A well constructed, updated daily, FREE website that seemed to have been created by people that genuinely wanted to help people get published, as well as being created by writers, for writers.

Fast forward to 2013 and I am aiming to get back into the writing lark again. I’ve had an article published on the GEEKchocolate website and I have a few other things planned, both fiction and non-fiction (and, of course, this Blog and Geek in the Gym). It was only a matter of time before I drifted back to Duotrope, which I did in early January.

I was a little surprised to discover that it was now accessible only to paying subscribers. Once I had moved past my initial “What the FUCK?!?” reaction and actually thought about it for a while, I could completely understand why they had moved to provide a service for people that were willing to pay for it. Duotrope started in 2005 and ran for free until the last day of 2012. Unless the site was being run by playboy billionaires these people had “proper” jobs and, quite frankly, if they were playboy billionaires they should have been out fighting crime and injustice whilst dressed as creatures of the night instead of helping me try and get the latest piece of shit that I’ve written published.

They appealed for donations but, if memory serves, were always running short of their target. I’ll hold my hands up here and admit that I never donated a thing to them. It wouldn’t surprise me to find that they delayed and delayed going to subscription only for as long as they could but that, eventually, they either started charging or they closed the site.

Subscription to the site costs a whopping $5 per month. For me that works out to £3.28 – that’s less than the price of a magazine or a portion of fish and chips from the Chinese Take Away at the end of the road; both of which I would happily buy without thinking about it (unless it’s the last week before payday, in which case a serious debate might take place). So, cash wise, it’s hardly going to cripple someone. I suppose the question is what do you get for your money?

SEARCH
You’ve written your latest masterpiece but, like a lot of writers out there, you haven’t got a clue what to do, where to send it or how to find someone that might be interested in A) reading it, and; B) thinking it might be good enough for others to want to read. With the search facility you can pick the genre that you’ve written for. Say you’ve written a Zombie Comedy short story. You’d pick “Horror” as your genre, obviously. Then there’s the sub-genre; in this case “Zombie”. After that you can pick the style in which it is written. Here it would be “Humorous” (as American’s are not aware that it is spelled “Humourous”) and then for length you’d select “Short Story”. There are other criteria that you can select, but those are the basics. A quick click of the search button and you discover that there are 2 publishers that are looking for exactly what you’ve written. Personally I find that a more generic search yields much better results. Most publishers of fiction aren’t that specific with what they’re looking for. Anthologies, eZine’s and magazines are looking for a selection of different tales that your little zombie story might just fit into. Simply searching the “Horror” genre brings up, for instance, 363 (at the moment) publishers that are on the lookout for new tales. That’s not exactly a bad start for finding a home for your tale. Each listing has a brief description of what the publisher is looking for, a link to their website, the genres that they accept and Response Statistics, which is the best bit for me. The Duotrope community can track their stories from submission to acceptance / rejection, and here you find how quickly publishers do, or do not, respond. Do you really want to be submitting to someone that takes 3 months, on average, to get back with an answer? You will see what percentage of stories are accepted and how long it takes for a response. Say a website has only accepted 10% of the stories submitted: you’d better be pretty damn confident that your story is up to scratch before sending it there.

CALENDER
This is my favourite bit of Duotrope. Although I’ve decided to get back into writing I’m finding the muse a little harder to rekindle than the desire. The stories that I have bouncing around my brain are the same ones that I’ve had nagging at me for years. I can’t remember the last time I came up with something “new” to write, other than non-fiction. The Calender section covers the themes and deadlines for anthologies and themed issues / months that are coming up. At the moment there are 247 deadlines stretching to March 2014 and each one gives you a brief of what the publisher is looking for. Where else would I have found the anthology looking for fantasy, science fiction and horror stories from any style of writing where the theme was “Potatoes”? An idea instantly popped into my head when I read the brief, but unfortunately I’ve got 13 days to get the fucking thing written, polished and sent off for the deadline. There are plenty of others there as well which you can track at the click of a button. I’ve currently got 5 deadlines that I am tracking in my Control Panel and that’s after only a speedy skim through the deadlines.

There’s LOADS of stuff that you can do with a Duotrope account, from the above search facility to keeping an eye on anthologies that you want to submit to, to tracking those stories that you’ve already submitted, hoping for a positive response. Even if you’ve written something that you can’t find a place for you never know when someone might pop up wanting just what you’ve written.

If you’re at all unsure about whether it might be right for you, why not take advantage of the free 7 day trial they have going and see for yourself? Not only that, but you might be interested enough to buy an issue or book and, let’s not forget, if we as writers want to find places that want to publish unknown authors we have to support them as well. We can’t just let ‘other people’ spend their money when we refuse to do the same.

Click on the link below, sign up for the 7 days and see what you think. You might love it as much as I do!

 

Duotrope: an award-winning resource for writers