What do you do without Duotrope?

The new year is well underway, and with it, Duotrope.com, that favorite tool of submitting writers everywhere, has gone to a paid subscription model. (I would also like to note that no holes have opened up in the universe, contrary to some writers’ expectations.)

I, for one, fully supported Duotrope’s move toward a paid model, and found it surprising that some writers felt morally entitled to the free service Duotrope had provided for so long. The fact is that Duotrope’s editors had been doing a great service for the writing community, and asked that the community, in turn, support it. Not enough members of the writing world gave back. “Free” services come at a considerable cost to those who provide them, and while it would have been ideal for the writing community to have invested in Duotrope of its free will, it didn’t. I applaud Duotrope for doing what it needed to do in order to survive as an institution.

I also suspect that, now that the fabulous search functions on Duotrope aren’t free, many writers will move away from simply running massive searches for open submissions and subsequently blasting large groups of journals at a time. Let’s face it: most of us writers are guilty of the mega-submission, aren’t we? Maybe it was back during your MFA days when it seemed like everyone else was publishing, so you needed to land a poem somewhere, too; you bundled up the same five poems and sent them to fifty different journals at a wild scattershot, hoping for the best. No? You didn’t? (I did.) Duotrope’s search is powerful, and it was all too frequently used for willy-nilly rather than well considered submissions.

But now, with users flocking (or perhaps merely threatening to flock?) away from Duotrope, how can writers who aren’t ready for a Duotrope subscription find information? How can writers make more informed, targeted decisions about where to submit?

Here are some great places for the submitter to turn:

New Pages. This is a fantastic site that not only provides extensive listings of litmags but also reviews of journals’ recent issues. We all know you can’t subscribe to every journal to which you send work (but you do subscribe to some, right? Right?), so New Pages’s reviews can be a great way for you to familiarize yourself with the tone and quality of a publication before you send work.

The Review ReviewOver the past few years, The Review Review has become one of the finest literary resources online.  TRR provides journal reviews that are thoughtful, incisive, and not afraid to be mixed or even negative when necessary. But TRR offers quite a few other nifty features as well, from interviews with journal editors and notable writers to submissions tips and classified ads.

The Poets and Writers’ database of literary magazinesPW’s format is something of a stripped-down field guide to literary publications, but even in its more minimalistic format, this database provides interesting tidbits that submitters might not find in other listings: at PW, you can learn the number of debut writers in each issue of a given magazine, a publication’s representative authors, circulation size, and subscription pricing all in one spot.

Your local bookstore. If you’re lucky enough to still have a local indie book store, that is. Go browse the literary magazine shelf. No, your local indie probably won’t carry hundreds of different journals, but I’ll bet you’ll find several you’ve never read before. And you can hold them in your hands, flip through, and get a feel for them. Better yet, you can buy them on the spot, take them home, and read them! That’s what literary journals are for, I hear.

5 Replies to “What do you do without Duotrope?”

  1. Good post! I agree that charging seems reasonable. I have always supported Duotrope with donations but I suspect many have not, or, with not enough. I have never used them much but they provide a valuable service and are right to assign a specific financial value to that service.

  2. Darn it, I was going to blog about Duotrope going pay. But a great list of alternatives for the financially or submission challenged.

  3. Grace, I’m glad to hear that others agree with Duotrope’s choice as well. The majority of the web chatter I’ve heard has been of the outrage variety, so I’m happy to hear others in the “that makes sense” camp!

    Joe, do I feel dueling Duotrope blogs coming on?

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