Duotrope Moves to Paid Subscriptions; Writers Respond with Violent Protests

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Cheap, neurotic writers throughout the globe took to the streets on Friday night to protest austerity measures at Duotrope, the website that catalogues fiction markets.

Spurred by the news that Duotrope was going to wall off its fiction listings to paid subscribers only, writers protested in the way that only writers can — a few acolytes of Hunter Thompson stabbed cars and threw cats through storefront windows, but most drank lattes in cafes while whinging on Twitter and Facebook like pansies.

“I don’t know how to satisfy my curiosity now on Saturday nights when I’m home by myself,” said Ditchweed Brekevich, one of the writers protesting the move to paid subscriptions. “How will I possibly estimate whether Famous Journal will reject me this week or the next?”

Breelove Yolanda insisted that her entire system of recording rejections would now be rendered obsolete. “I never learned how to use an Excel spreadsheet,” she said. “I’ll never again be able to record my acceptances and rejections. This will doom my career.”

The cost of $5 per month or $50 a year was seen as too high by many writers. The average annual subscription cost suggested to this intrepid reporter was $1.37. Most arrived at the number by calculating the amount of money they made writing for that one content farm that promised to be super lucrative. Several writers suggested they might send fictiongrams to the Duotrope editor in lieu of cash payments, and that these fictiongrams, mostly flash-length with quasi-tough prose and subtle endings, might buoy his spirits enough to survive another year on Top Ramen.

Caulweld Brisanthamy, who was slightly intoxicated on PBR at the time of his interview, raved about what would be lost. “It’s about community, man. We all got to see the names of who got acceptances at the end of that newsletter. That really bonded writers together, man. And on the site I got to see the average rejection time, and the median rejection time, and whatever the fuck is the standard deviation — did anyone ever care about the standard deviation? Like, did anyone ever say, ‘Oh, fuck, the standard deviation is way off on this journal, I’m never getting my fucking story rejected’? — and I got to see how many lucky writers got personal rejections, even though I think most of them were fucking liars and got standard fucking forms. I got to study all those numbers with my writer friends who weren’t really that great at math, and got to make wild conjunctions — conjectures! — about how long before we got rejected.”

Many writers who donated to Duotrope over its long history complained that they considered their money wasted. Biggy Chulupa insisted he gave them money in 2007, and that this money was sufficient to ensure operating costs for at least a decade. When pressed for a specific dollar amount, Chulupa waffled at first, but finally admitted that his donation was in the high single digits.

Areas with high concentrations of writers, like Brooklyn (specifically Park Slope), have announced State of Emergencies and called upon the Federal Government to send in the National Guard to help deal with the hordes of writers wandering around aimlessly holding signs with incredibly clever slogans. Professional observers of protest signs noted that they have never before seen so many complex tropes and obnoxious alliterations.

Paulieta Knashburger, an editor at Leaky Basement Journal, suggested that Duotrope, which many literary insiders consider too big to fail, could apply for a bailout: “Perhaps if the federal government gave a mere $5-10 billion dollars, this valuable free service could be preserved for future generations of scribes.”

The sociologist Max Heberjinx predicted an upside to the paid subscription plan. “Not to make a vast generalization, but every single writer in the entire world is a massive clusterfuck of anxiety. The nerves of most writers are tight enough to be plucked like harp strings. This anxiety is only fueled when writers have access to free services that offer information on expected rejection times. Writers develop Click Addiction, a mental illness recently added to the DSM-5. Perhaps, by which I mean this absolutely will occur, the overall neuroses of writers will lower if they just concentrate more on writing kick-ass prose and concentrate less on combing through databases for possible markets.”

Hopefully this Duotrope disaster can be averted. But if not, dear writers, hold onto your laptops and expectations.

Signing off until next time, I am your faithful literary reporter,

Senor BookFox.

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14 comments

  1. I know you wrote this with tongue planted firmly in cheek and I know that Duotrope has been moving towards that for the past few months.

    But being that I work in the public sector and having learned the valuable lesson of using workarounds for temporary blockages of information, writers can do the same thing here.

    If some of them are getting their panties in a bunch over this, then the simplest thing that they can do (which actually requires them to work) is to do a Google search for the e-zine/journal in question.

    No muss, no fuss, and everyone is happy. Except Duotrope.

  2. I can understand Duotrope beginning to charge, to take advantage of writers curiosity and addiction. But this is REALLY funny!

  3. I’m really going to miss looking up how many days I have left before the average rejection time on a submission. With all this free time I’m going to have without Duotrope I might actually have to do some writing!

  4. Good article, but all joking aside I find this development very disappointing. Duotrope has helped me discover literally hundreds of markets I might not have found otherwise. Their service is valuable beyond simply logging rejections, which is why I’ve been a consistant donor. Now it seems the money I’ve given them over the past year has been for nothing. That said I don’t think I’ll be signing up for their pay service. The system was easy and convenient, but like the article suggests, I can go back to using Excel

  5. Duotrope was great resource to discover markets, but I’m mostly sad ’cause I just like free, I first found out when I discovered they had pulled their iGive account. Now I need to find another charity to receive my donations…

  6. A great piece of reportage by Senor BookFox…but really, kudos to duotrope, a site that has helped us all. Another good writerly site is newpages.com–as far as I know, it is still free.

    1. Why hello Senorita.

      Thank you for recommending newpages. The great advantage of newpages over duotrope is that it gives you reviews of literary journals, so you’re not submitting blind.

  7. Fun, painful, piece.
    I am disappointed to see the sudden, no “shot-across-the bow”, switch from “donation” to “subscription only”. I recently made a token PayPal donation; deciding the money I would normally spend for a Writer’s Market DeLuxe Edition, with access to their annual online data-base, would support a less “Big Six” commercial group.
    The $50 fee for Duotrope-v-$35 for WD is not so appealing to my pocket-book, now.
    Pity.

    1. You don’t consider the pitiful claims in Duotrope’s pages that they haven’t met their donation targets for the current month to be a “shot across the bow”? Or the clear request to “keep it free” by donating? The only confusing issue to me here was how long it took them to move to paid subscription.

  8. I’m not thrilled about the switch to pay2play, but it’s not entirely surprising. However, I hope that their new format enables them to maintain their listings with a bit more vigor. Under the free format, I routinely found entries with out of date payment info, response times, acceptable submission formats, etc., and more than a few times I wound up with entries for markets that had already closed up shop. In a free resource these aren’t a big deal, but if everybody’s paying $5.00 per month, I’d like this info to be more current.

  9. By becoming a pay service, Duotrope effectively destroys that which makes it most valuable — the insight provided by a large sample size.

  10. TANSTAAFL.
    To the commentors whining about paying:
    You all need to get over it. When bodies do work for your benefit, expect to give something back. Obviously you each should have donated more to their valued service, before it ever came to this.

    I just subscribed 😀

    I can afford to… never quit my day job for the thing I love

  11. Before this scheme is being implemented, there are already omens that Duotrope would be going bust if it does not receive donations in time. So it is not surprising that Duotrope has become a pay-to-play, in the gaming parlance, organization.