So, Duotrope.com is going to start charging. Good for them. It’s a terrific resource that has, up to now, relied on donations from users to cover their costs. The problem is, a very small percentage of users actually donated. The rest—the freeriders—used the information and never paid a cent, letting the rest of us pick up the tab. Here’s the full announcement.
What is Duotrope? It’s a wonderful resource—a searchable database of nearly every literary magazine and small press. These are the markets that writers, especially writers at the early stage of their careers, need to know about in order to get their work published. The database can be searched by a host of parameters—payment levels, submission periods, genres, etc. It includes links to magazine websites and a summary of submission guidelines. In addition, Duotrope includes a submission tracking system. It’s easy enough to track your own submissions in a spreadsheet, of course, but the beauty of a shared system is that it provides an idea of what response times from a given magazine should be. It’s not hard to see how that can be useful if you’re watching your submissions closely.
Since the announcement was made of this new business model, I’ve seen comments by writers that are enthusiastic in their support of Duotrope and have jumped to subscribe. I’ve seen others who are outraged. I don’t get the outrage.
Duotrope is a resource. It’s not something anyone is entitled to. Shame on the people who used the resource but didn’t pay for it. When I was in my MFA program, we were encouraged to use Writers’ Market in order to get information about markets for our stories and poems. I forked over the money for a new copy of Writers’ Market each year, as it was updated every twelve months. And I was happy to have the information in a handy form. For me, Duotrope has replaced Writers’ Market, and I’m perfectly willing to pay for the information if I need it for submitting now.
Granted, some people can’t afford the $5 for a one-month subscription. (Really? Okay, maybe, but let’s be honest about where our priorities are.) If it’s true, as some argue, that the same information is available elsewhere for free, then those people can get that information elsewhere. I’ve never seen a resource that functions as well as Duotrope, though, or is as complete. Poets & Writers has a very nice online listing of magazines, it’s true. About 850 markets are listed. Dutotrope has something like 4500 markets, with a search engine that is more robust than P&W’s.
I’ll continue to use Duotrope until I find something better, and I’ll willingly pay to keep it in existence.