By Amanda Huynh
The idea of submitting my work to different journals was far off in the distance, and I associated submitting work as a huge tedious, mind-sucking task. I had heard horror stories of complex excel sheets, thirty- paged Word documents, accidentally applying to a journal that did not accept simultaneous submissions, or forgetting to withdraw simultaneous submissions from journals once a piece was accepted.
In 2014, I was introduced to Duotrope by a fellow writer. Duotrope serves as a database that contains over 5200 online literary journals, print literary journals, chapbook contests, book contests, book publishers, and more. Now, Duotrope does not list everything as the system relies on users/journals inputting data on two levels.
The first level involves information on the journals. Typically, a journal’s staff members would be updating the information on Duotrope, but sometimes individual writers can contact Duotrope to update a journal’s information.
The following screenshot shows what the format of journal’s pages are presented. There is a quick “About” section, a snapshot picture of the journal’s website, “Submission Periods” (lists what genres they accept: fiction, non-fiction, poetry), “Genres,” “Audience, Poetry Forms, Styles & Topics,” “Types & Lengths,” “Media & Publication Frequency,” “Payscale,” and “Submission Types.” All of these vary from journal to journal. Here is an example of the page (taken from my logged in member view:
The second level of information comes from writers (users). If I submit something to Barely South Review, Duotrope tracks my submission (based on my data that I input – when I submitted, when I heard back from them, accepted or rejected, and so on) in order to create the “Response Statistics” tab. Now, these responses can be filtered by fiction, poetry, non-fiction or can include all of the above. Below, I have included another screenshot of the “Response Statistics.”
Again, there is the “Filter options:” bar which I have set to “All.” The statistics on Barely South Review are broken down into Accuracy, Resonses, Acceptances, Rejections, and so forth. One thing that has been very helpful has been the average day per rejections/acceptances. When writers view this page, they can look at the percentage of Acceptances: 1.97% (52.7 avg. days per acceptance). This helps me keep a timeline. If I have not heard back from Barely South Review (or any other journal with similar statistics) in eighty days then I know either my work is being considered or something is stalling the staff. Another helpful tool, would be the “Pending” statistic toward the bottom. Right now, 43 responses are pending. However, this does not include the submissions that are unreported. I usually double this number to give me a better overview.
If you click “View Report of recent Responses from this Market” in blue, under “Other Information,” a user can see how active the journal has been (e.g. a timestamp of when someone was rejected or accepted). Again, all of this is dependent upon users reporting. However, the “Response Statistics” are only available to members, and is very helpful in the submission process.
Honestly, I was dreading the submissions process until I signed up for Duotrope. Of course, you need to be a member of Duotrope in order to access all of this information. There are two options for payment: pay five dollars per month or pay a one-time annual fee of fifty dollars. For the potential headache the process could be, I think this is definitely worth.
The biggest complaint I have is how quickly my session is timed out. While I have Duotrope open, I may click on a journal link to read about their submissions, and in the meantime I will be kicked out of Duotrope and prompted to log back in. When you are researching journals for a couple of hours, this can become very annoying.
Duotrope has so many more functions that I have not even touched: searching genres, being able to see other related projects, searching by word counts, keeping track of your submissions, and so on. There are so many possibilities and things Duotrope can do that I have yet to discover myself (and I have been using this system for about a year).