Monday, February 25, 2013

Wordcraft -- Much ado about Duotrope

If you read any writing post, by now you know that Duotrope’s Digest, the searchable database of writing markets, is only available by subscription. There was a lot of weeping on writing websites about the formerly free site’s decision to charge for its services starting the first of this year. Didn’t Duotrope love us anymore? How dared it charge for its services, after years of unsuccessfully begging us, its users, for support?

Although some writers I respect swore off Duotrope and offered alternatives, I went ahead and paid its fee -- $50 for a year’s subscription or $5 for one month. I’ve looked at alternatives and will share them in this post. But frankly, I don’t find any offering as much value as Duotrope. They’re free because sell advertising or solicit donations, as Duotrope did unsuccessfully.

Only you can decide which site, or variety of sites, is the best value for your situation. But consider that Duotrope offers a database of more than 4,500 markets which it keeps current, lets you keep a continuously updated spreadsheet of your submissions, and provides feedback from other users.

If you know for certain you’re not ready to submit stories, articles or poems for publication, it may be a waste of money to pay for a market research site. If you’ve published so much you’ve built your own list of markets, ditto. But if you publish but don’t have well-established markets, or if you’re not sure what’s out there in the ever-changing world of publishing, consider a short-term subscription to Duotrope.

For alternatives, especially for writers of “speculative fiction” -- that umbrella term covering science fiction, fantasy and horror -- take a look at writer J.W. Alden’s discussion of “10 Free Alternatives to Duotrope for SFF Writers,” at

I also check listings on incredibly prolific UK writer Deborah Walker’s blog,

Deborah is one of those writers who’s built her own list of markets. She’s also a fan of an upcoming site, Submitomancy, billed as a free alternative to Duotrope. See its Facebook site for a current progress report.

Not a spec fiction writer? Consider New Pages,

The literary type? Try Poets & Writers online listing of contests, grants, residencies and awards, at

Like me, you probably already subscribe to the likes of Glimmer Train and Writer’s
Digest. Share your own favorite sites. We’re in this together.


Last Monday, I told you to expect a review of YA author Mark Zusak’s appearance at the Highland Park literary festival, but a bad cold and hectic schedule intervened. However, next week I hope to provide an update on literary festivals and conferences cited earlier this year. For now, I’ll just mention that the FenCon writers’ workshop in October is already filled. Hope you got your place to hear husband and wife Tor editors Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden. But if not, I’ll fill you in on what they have to say.


  1. Hi Melissa, thanks so much for the shout-out. Sadly submitomancy didn't get funded.

    I'm using the free service Submission Grinder which is shaping up to be a really cool service, with lots of writer-led innovations.

  2. Thanks for the information. Readers, click on the link in Deborah's comment to check out Submission Grinder.