Tag Archives: duotrope

The Submission Sanity Saver

Are you a disorganized person? It’s okay to admit it. We’re friends here, and this is a safe place. Here, I’ll go first. I am extremely disorganized. I don’t keep a calendar. My desk at work is a mess. I consider organizing things to be a hassle, and I detest hassle. I’ve long skated by on a better-than-average memory. That document from last week? It’s in the third pile on the right, the one that’s teetering on the edge of falling.

The problem is, as I’ve gotten older, my brain has gotten more full and, well, older. My once-vaunted memory has begun to fail me. Sooner or later I’m going to have to admit that, and start being more organized like a normal person. But probably not.

Still, there’s one organizational decision I’ve made that I don’t regret in the slightest: surrendering my short story submission process to Duotrope. Duotrope is a one-stop-shop website for submissions. Short and long fiction, nonfiction and poetry, Duotrope has you covered. They currently list over 5,000 markets, and continuously update their list as new markets become available. They feature a robust search engine where you can specify which criteria you are looking for in a market. They list acceptance rates, pay scale (or lack thereof), average response speed (or lack thereof) and each market’s page on Duotrope links to the market’s main site.

Simply put, I would be utterly lost without Duotrope.

Every time you submit, you complete an entry with the name of your story (stored in your account database), the venue and the date of submission. Duotrope starts counting days. When you get a response, you update the entry, and the site uses your inputs to improve its own venue database. Better still, they keep records of every story you’ve submitted and which markets you’ve submitted it to. They even compare your acceptance rate to others who have submitted to the same market and give you a sense of how you’re doing.

Just this morning I was thinking to myself that I had a story out on submission. I couldn’t remember which venue or, honestly, which story, but I was fairly certain I’d submitted it awhile ago. Surely, I thought, I should have heard something by now. I logged into my account to see if I’d run over the expected amount of time for this market. Turns out my memory just wasn’t so hot (damn you, age!). I’ve still got sixteen days left until the story has been out past this market’s normal response times.

Now for the bad news. While the site was free when I began using it, eventually soliciting donations was apparently not enough to pay their bills. They have since gone to a pay system, which is unfortunate for those without much disposable income, but at $50.oo a year, I consider it a steal and well worth it. They even offer a free trial! If you do a lot of submitting and have been trying to keep track of it all yourself, I strongly suggest you consider giving them a try.

 

Greg LittleRocket scientist by day, science fiction and fantasy writer by night, Gregory D. Little began his writing career in high school when he and his friend wrote Star Wars fanfic before it was cool, passing a notebook around between (sometimes during) classes. His novelette Some Say in Surf appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of The Colored Lens. When not working or writing, he enjoys the occasional video game. He lives in Ashland, VA with his wife and their yellow lab.

Weird Antho Angst

It’s not the waiting the kills… it’s the waste.

One of the more common ways of getting into the writing business and building “street-cred” is to peruse the calls for submissions on sites like Duotrope.com, Ralan.com, and Submission Grinder. Those sites are great for providing loads of opportunity. The problem is that many of the themes listed are pretty specific. Most of them run along the weird paths of cross-genre or niche topics that are hell-and-gone from the mainstream.

Sure, it can be fun writing a story about zombie porn or purple unicorns, but it’s also exceedingly risky. And yes, I have a buddy who is in a zombie porn antho called 50 Shades of Decay, and I just had a story come out in a purple unicorn anthology titled One Horn to Rule Them All. I can say with confidence that the quality of stories in these off-the-beaten-track collections is on par with mainstream fiction, and can be even better as a result of the topic.

The problem stems for the fact that once you write the story, you have to wait weeks or even months to hear back on whether you made the cut. That’s the same as with any short story submission, certainly, but with one of these, the bar is sometimes a bit higher than “normal” fiction. With regular fiction the bar is established and fairly well understood by the community. With non-traditional anthos, however, you not only have to write a good story, you must more accurately discern the tastes or intent of the editor or publication putting out the call for submission.

It can be like trying to hit a kangaroo from orbit with a drunken koala.

(Just let that visual sink in for a minute).

Now, if you make it in, great. But statistically speaking, the odds are that you won’t make the cut. That’s where the real pain comes in. If your story isn’t selected, you have one to six-thousand words that you’re going to play hell placing elsewhere. I mean, what are the odds that Asimov or Fantasy & Science Fiction want something that was written specifically for someplace else? It can be done, but those are pretty long odds, especially if the story wasn’t good enough to make the cut for the antho.

There are no easy roads into the business, and while weird anthos are one of them, you may want to go with the more mainstream topics when you’re first starting. Once your writing is cleaner and you’re placing stories more frequently, or even at will, then it’s time to hit the weird stuff.