Storyville: Research and Duotrope

You have a voice now, and you can write a cover letter, you’ve seen the horrors and the joy of the submission process, but let’s take a step back for a second. Where are you sending your stories? How in the hell do you decide on the right journal or magazine or website for your epic genius? If only there was one place to go, one source for all of your questions, complete with links and statistics and pretty pictures. There is. If you haven’t discovered Duotrope.com yet, then you, my friend, are in for an awakening.

DUOTROPE OVERVIEW

What is Duotrope.com? It’s a website that helps you to get published. There are other websites like this (such as Ralan.com) but I’ve really come to love Duotrope and all of its features. It makes your research easier, gives you the ability to track your submissions, and it is 100% FREE (but please do donate if you can). There's a lot of information to cover, so I might as well dig in. Once you get the hang of the website, you’ll wonder how you ever existed without it. Here is their definition:

Duotrope is a free resource for writers that primarily offers an extensive, searchable database of current fiction and poetry markets. We also offer a calendar of upcoming deadlines, submissions trackers (for registered users), and some nifty reports compiled from the data we've accumulated.

So head over,  register, and let’s get started.

RESEARCH

Running a search is one of the features that I use the most. You can search by title if you are trying to track down a specific publication. And later, when you get to be a little more experienced, you can save a specific search (for example, Horror Short Story Print or Top Literary Journals- whatever you want to create) based on the parameters of your story and where you want to place it. Here are some of the many ways you can search for the right market for your story.

GENRE

This is the first category. They don’t offer a ton of options here, but they have enough to help you whittle down prospective publishers. This includes General (a great, all purpose definition), Action-Adventure, Erotica, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery/Crime, Romance, Science Fiction, Suspense/Thriller, and Western. If you FOR SURE know that your story is in one of these categories, then definitely pick the genre that matches what you are doing. If you aren’t sure, then experiment a bit and see what comes up. Most of the speculative markets will overlap, so if a publication takes fantasy, they might take science fiction and horror as well—but not always.

SUB-GENRE and STYLE

I don’t use this category very often, since it tends to really narrow down the publications to a very specific few. One sub-genre that I have used, though, is Fantasy>Magical Realism. It just means that a publication is looking for a story that is grounded in reality, but has some aspect of the supernatural. There is a long list of other sub-genres and styles, so play around and see what works for you. I’ve found that, for example, there are so few professional paying horror markets that I don’t narrow it down using these categories very often.

LENGTH

This is essential. Duotrope has some very specific word counts for the length of a story. If you are used to defining your story by page count, get ready to change that thinking. Most publications define their guidelines by word count, not page count, so you need to get used to this method. Here is how Duotrope defines the lengths:

Flash <1000 words
Short Story 1000 – 7,500
Novelette 7,500 – 15,000
Novella 15,000 – 40,000
Novel > 40,000

As always, go by the guidelines of each particular publication. Some places may only accept shorts of up to 5,000 words. I’ve found that the 5K mark is the max that MOST places will publish. Also, micro-fiction (or the short-short-story) is typically anything under 500 words, but there are some places that go even shorter, wanting 200, or 100, or 50 words. So just keep your eyes open.

PAY RATE

This is a great category. If you aren’t sure how “professional” a publication is, this might be a good indicator of a slick magazine or serious journal or website. Might. Unfortunately, a lot of literary journals don’t pay much, if anything. And the same goes for publishing online. Sometimes I’ll use the “token and up” category, or take out pay entirely. Professional pay, according to most groups and associations is .05 cents a word. That is the rate that will get you into organizations such as the Horror Writers of America, for example. (They nominate and award the Bram Stoker Awards.) That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a ton of excellent magazines, journals and websites out there that don’t pay that rate, pay less, or don’t pay at all.

MEDIUM

Basically, this is divided into print and web, but they also include digital and audio. Still, this can really help you to narrow down your search. If you are trying to build up your CV for example, and want to focus on print publications (since most universities still don’t recognize online publishing as “legitimate”), then use this to search for print. Or maybe you don’t want to be in print, you want to be online so people can find your work for free, to help build up your network and audience. This option will help you do that.

SUBMISSION TYPE

This is another great one. I really have very little patience for mailing in short stories, so I often click this tab to select “Electronic.” But don’t ignore a publication just because they ask you to mail your submissions. I still send in stories to Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine (F&SF) because I love what they do. Other places like Alfred Hitchcock, Analog, Ellery Queen, Harper’s, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, and Tin House require you to mail submissions. A new trend is CHARGING you a small fee to submit online. Personally, I hate this approach, but if I’m going to spend $1.50 to mail it in, what’s $3 to send it online? Not a big deal, and the places typically need the money. Some places are also charging a small fee to get “preferred reading treatment” which I again don’t really agree with, but since so many of these publications are struggling to survive, what’s $5 to get a response in a guaranteed 30 days vs. six months? I’ve done it, begrudgingly.

SUBMISSION DETAILS:

There are three buttons under this category. “Reprints” is for stories that have already been published, that you want to republish. I don’t use this very often, but it can come in handy. “Simultaneous Submissions” is another button. I tend to ignore magazines that tell me I can’t submit simultaneously. If that matters to you, click this button to make sure that you are ONLY submitting to places that are open to simultaneous submissions. The last button is for “Multiple Submissions,” sending in more than one story at the same time to the same place. There aren’t a lot of places that do this, but it’s a great button to try out. I just used this for some of my literary stories, and sent in multiples to Caketrain, Keyhole, and a few others. There is also a button right below this for anthologies only, so if that’s something you’re interested in, click that button.

EXCLUDE:

This may seem like an innocent button, but it can REALLY help you in your searches. By keeping the “Temporary Closed” button clicked, you avoid pulling up publications that aren’t currently open for submissions, focusing on places where you can submit immediately. I also keep the “Ignore List” button selected. Over time you will probably build up a list of places that you want to ignore. Maybe they take too long, or have a policy you don’t like or they fit your parameters but you just don’t like them. Keep this button clicked. The next button, “Non-Favorites” is an excellent button if you are a little more advanced. One of the features of your control panel (which I haven’t talked about yet) is your favorites. This is a great way to build up a list of publications that you want to keep on your radar. By clicking on “Exclude Non-Favorites” you basically narrow down any search to your own list of favorites. It’s like searching a pre-screened list of excellent magazines. You’ve already looked into them, and you think they’re cool and want to publish with them, so it makes it easy to send off a story. I’ll show you my list in a second.

EXCLUDE ALREADY SUBBED

This is another great parameter. Say you’ve sent off a story to ten markets, but want to find more. If you click this tab, and then go to that particular story, you can ignore the places you ALREADY sent it to, whether it’s still pending or was rejected. Next to that is a button for “Exclude Markets Pending Responses.” What’s great about THIS button is that it covers ANY submission. So if my story “Fireflies” was sent off to twenty places, and I selected the “Exclude Already Subbed” tab for THAT story, great, I’ve eliminated that redundancy. But maybe I’ve got another story, “Flowers for Jessica,” that has a similar vibe, and it’s PENDING at another fifteen places that would be a good fit for “Fireflies.” Well, I can’t send “Fireflies” to them, because I ALREADY have a submission there. See how valuable that is?

SORT BY

This is one of the last fields you can select. Sometimes I’ll sort by “Pay (high-low)” and work my way down the selections according to that. You can also sort by “Acceptance Rate,” opting to aim for the toughest, or maybe look for an easier target. There is also “Average Response Time” which is really great if you want to find a place that has a quick turnaround, or maybe just avoid a place that takes six months to a year to respond—your call.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON RESEARCH

Just play around with these settings. When you pull up a publication's profile it will give you all the information you need. You can see what they want, the appropriate length, the response times, pay rate, submission method, etc.—all of that is in the profile. You can click on a link that takes you to their website and study their guidelines before you send off your story via email, Submishmash, or another submission manager. And you can study the “Work submitted here was also submitted…” section, as well as the “Users accepted here were also accepted at…” area, to see what similar publications are out there. Really, the amount of information is endless. So do your research. NO EXCUSES! And when you send off your story, report that submission, so you can track it. There’s a little tab on the right hand side of each profile for that.

SUBMISSION TRACKER

This is probably the place you’ll hang out at the most. There’s a link on the right hand side of every page that can take you to your submission tracker. There isn’t a whole lot you need to know about this area. You can sort and study your submissions, typically using the “Pending” filter. You can also sort by “Rejections” to see where you have submitted in the past, unsuccessfully. And of course you can bask in the long list of your “Acceptances” as well, to see where you got in, how long it took, and hunt down similar places that might be appropriate for your work. Mostly, I check in to see what stories are out, and if anything is overdue. Once a story is overdue the numbers and the phrase “Pending Response” will turn red. When this happens, I always send an editor a quick email to ask if they are still considering my story. You’d be surprised how many times a story gets lost. Often it can lead to a nice interaction with an editor, getting your name in front of somebody. Several times this has lead to either a faster submission and response, or multiple submissions—lots of things can happen. But don’t let it go. If a magazine usually responds in thirty days and they have had your story for ninety days, one of two things has happened: they lost it, or they are really close to taking it. Either way, it’s good to get an answer.

CONTROL PANEL

We’ve covered quite a lot so far, but the control panel is another really important part of your process. Once you’ve figured out how to do all of the research, you need to know how to stay on top of your career.

YOUR SUBMISSIONS

At the top of your control panel is a handy little bunch of statistics. Here’s mine:

  • Pending responses for last 12 months: 61
  • Submissions sent last 12 months: 288
  • Submissions sent this month: 8
  • Acceptance ratio for the past 12 months: 8.33 %
  • Congratulations! Your overall acceptance ratio is higher than the average for users who have submitted to the same markets.

Kind of cool, huh? If I’ve been slacking, I’ll see that. And it gives me my acceptance rate too, to let me know how I’m doing versus the rest of the Duotrope community.

MANAGE

Under this heading you can edit and add new stories, poems or novels to your list. You can edit and add saved searches. You can edit and add tracked deadlines. And you can study the feature I use the most, your favorite markets. Here is my massive list, which covers journals, magazines, websites, and publishers:

  • 3 AM Magazine
  • 751 Magazine
  • A cappella Zoo
  • AGNI
  • Alaska Quarterly Review
  • Albedo One
  • Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine
  • alice blue
  • Analog
  • anderbo.com
  • Annalemma
  • Another Chicago Magazine
  • Apex Book Company
  • Apex Magazine
  • Apodis Publishing
  • Aqueous Books
  • Arcane
  • Artifice Magazine
  • Atlantic Monthly, The
  • Atticus Review
  • Aurealis
  • Avery Anthology
  • Barrelhouse
  • Bat City Review
  • Beat to a Pulp
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Berkley Fiction Review
  • Big Lucks
  • Birkensnake
  • Black Clock
  • Black Heart Magazine
  • Black Lawrence Press
  • Black Static
  • Black Warrior Review
  • Blackbird
  • Bleak House Books
  • Blink-Ink
  • BLIP
  • Blue Earth Review
  • Blue Mesa Review
  • BOMB Magazine
  • Boulevard
  • Bourbon Penn
  • BULL SPEC
  • BULL: Fiction for Thinking Men
  • Caketrain
  • Camera Obscura
  • Cannoli Pie
  • Canteen
  • Capilano Review, The
  • Cavalier Literary Couture
  • Cemetery Dance
  • Chicago Review
  • Chiron Review
  • ChiZine (Chiaroscuro)
  • ChiZine Publications
  • Cimarron Review
  • Cirton Review, The
  • Clarkesworld Magazine
  • Coachella Review, The
  • Collagist, The
  • Colorado Review
  • Comet Press
  • Conjunctions
  • Contrary
  • Copper Nickel
  • Crazyhorse
  • Cream City Review
  • Crimefactory
  • Crimewave
  • Criminal Element
  • Dark Discoveries
  • Dark Horizons
  • Dark Moon Books
  • Dark Moon Digest
  • Dark Sky Magazine
  • decomP
  • Descant (Canada)
  • DIAGRAM
  • Dirty Noir
  • Dogmatika
  • DOGZPLOT
  • Dzanc Books
  • EDGE
  • Electric Literature
  • Electric Velocipede
  • Eleven Eleven
  • elimae
  • Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
  • Emerson Review, The
  • Emprise Review
  • Etchings
  • Existere – Journal of Arts and Literature
  • F Magazine
  • Fairy Tale Review
  • Fantasy and Science Fiction
  • Featherproof Books
  • Fence
  • Fiction International
  • Fifth Wednesday Journal
  • Flambard Press
  • Flying Pen Press
  • Flywheel Magazine
  • Freight Stories
  • FRiGG
  • Fringe
  • Frogmore Papers
  • Fugue
  • Fugue State Press
  • Full of Crow Quarterly Fiction
  • Gargoyle
  • Going Down Swinging (AU)
  • Gold Dust
  • Granta
  • Grave Tales
  • Graywolf Press
  • Grist: The Journal for Writers
  • GUD: Greatest Uncommon Denominator
  • Harpur Palate
  • Hayden’s Ferry Review
  • Heavy Feather Review
  • Hobart
  • Horror Zine, The
  • Hotel St. George Press
  • Hyperpulp
  • Ideomancer
  • Ig Publishing
  • Ilura Press
  • Indiana Review
  • Interfictions
  • Interzone
  • Jabberwocky
  • Juked
  • Kenyon Review, The
  • Keyhole Magazine
  • kill author
  • KNOCK
  • Lake Effect
  • L’Allure des Mots
  • Leodegraunce
  • Lightspeed
  • LIT
  • Literary Fever
  • Literary Review, The
  • LITRO: Stories Transport You
  • Lowesoft Chronicle
  • MacAdam/Cage Publishing
  • MAKE: A Chicago Literary Magazine
  • Manic D Press
  • McSweeney’s Books
  • McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
  • McSweeney’s Quarterly
  • Meanjin
  • Medallion Press
  • Memorious
  • Metazen
  • Midnight Echo
  • Midwestern Gothic
  • Missouri Review
  • Mixer Publishing
  • Molotov Cocktail, The
  • Monkeybicycle
  • Moon Milk Review
  • Morrigan Books
  • Moulin Review
  • Mundania Press
  • Natural Bridge
  • Neon
  • Nefarious Muse
  • Nerve.com
  • Nervous Breakdown, The
  • New England Review
  • New Genre
  • New Ohio Review (NOR)
  • New Orleans Review
  • New York Tyrant
  • New Yorker, The
  • Night Land, The
  • Night Shade Books
  • Night Train
  • Ninth Letter
  • Not One of Us
  • NO COLONY
  • NOÖ Journal
  • Noon Annual
  • Normal School, The
  • Not One of Us
  • Notes from the Underground
  • Notre Dame Review
  • Offense Mechanisms
  • Omnidawn
  • On Spec
  • One Buck Horror
  • One Story
  • Opium Magazine
  • Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show
  • Otherworld Publications
  • Out of the Gutter Magazine
  • Outsider Writers Collective
  • PANK
  • Paris Review, The
  • Pear Noir!
  • Pedestal Magazine
  • Permanent Press Publishing Company, The
  • Permuted Press
  • Phoebe
  • Pill Hill Press
  • Pinch, The
  • Pleiades
  • Plots With Guns
  • Ploughshares
  • Poisoned Pen Press
  • Post Road Magazine
  • Portland Review, The
  • Prime Books
  • Pseudopod
  • Quick Fiction
  • Raleigh Review
  • Red Hen Press
  • Redivider
  • Reprint, The
  • Revolution House
  • River Styx
  • Rotten Leaves
  • Salamander
  • Salt Hill
  • Sententia
  • Severed Press
  • ShadowCast Audio Anthology
  • Shadows & Tall Trees
  • Sheepshead Review
  • Shimmer
  • Shock Totem
  • Short, Fast and Deadly
  • Shotgun Honey
  • Shroud Magazine
  • Shroud Publishing
  • Sleepingfish
  • Slice Magazine
  • Small Beer Press
  • Smokelong Quarterly
  • Snowbooks
  • Snubnose Press
  • Soho Press
  • Southeast Review, The
  • Southern Review, The
  • Spinetingler
  • Steampunk Tales
  • StepAway Magazine
  • Storyglossia
  • Strange Horizons
  • Stymie Magazine
  • subTerrain Magazine
  • Subtropics
  • Summerset Review, The
  • Sun Magazine, The
  • Tarpaulin Sky Literary Journal
  • Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction
  • Third Coast
  • Threepenny Review
  • Thunderdome: The Writer’s Collection
  • Tin House
  • Titular
  • Tor.com
  • Torque Press
  • Troubadour 21
  • Twelve Stories
  • Twist of Noir, A
  • Two Dollar Radio
  • Unstuck
  • Vain Magazine
  • Valparaiso Fiction Review
  • Versal
  • Vestal Review
  • Virginia Quarterly Review
  • Weave Magazine
  • Weird Tales
  • Whitewash Dreams
  • Wild Child Publishing
  • Willow Springs
  • Withersin Magazine
  • Witness
  • Yalobusha Review
  • Zoetrope: All-Story
  • Zone 3
  • ZOUCH
  • Zumaya Publications

Are you still with me? This is a list of places that I’ve been accepted, as well as places that I dream of being published, and it covers a wide range of genre and literary fiction. I’ve spent five years building this list so don’t let it intimidate you. Start building your OWN list (there’s a link at the top of each profile) and you’ll find that in time, you’re excited to see these names, these old friends, editors and publications that you’ve been tracking for years. It’ll mean a lot when you finally break through.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Like anything, you get out of it what you put into it. It’s not easy to get published, but if you utilize a source like Duotrope.com you’ll find in time that it’s not as daunting or painful as it used to be. These are your people, these are the men and women that could make your career, thrust you into the limelight. Embrace this information, or fail. It’s really that simple. Good luck!


After all of that dry number crunching, analysis and research, here are two stories from my list of favorite publications, above, that should get your blood pumping:

Something touching and dirty: “Memories While In the Cab of Her SUV After Fucking Up Her Current ‘Boyfriend’ In the Two Brothers Pub Parking Lot” by xTx at Metazen.

Something equally dirty and equally touching: Antonia Crane’s “I’m Really Quitting This Time” at PANK.


TO SEND a question to Richard, drop him a line at Richard@litreactor.com. Who knows, it could be his next column.

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Richard Thomas

Column by Richard Thomas

Richard Thomas is the award-winning author of seven books: three novels—Disintegration and Breaker (Random House Alibi), and Transubstantiate (Otherworld Publications); three short story collections—Staring Into the Abyss (Kraken Press), Herniated Roots (Snubnose Press), and Tribulations (Cemetery Dance); as well as one novella in The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). With over 100 stories published, his credits include Cemetery Dance, PANK, storySouth, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2 & 3, and Shivers VI (with Stephen King and Peter Straub). He has won contests at ChiZine and One Buck Horror, and has received five Pushcart Prize nominations to date. He is also the editor of four anthologies: The New Black and Exigencies (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. He has been nominated for the Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, and Thriller awards. In his spare time he is a columnist at LitReactor and Editor-in-Chief at Gamut Magazine. His agent is Paula Munier at Talcott Notch. For more information visit www.whatdoesnotkillme.com.

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Comments

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts January 17, 2012 - 11:03am

Thanks, Richard! Really needed this. I've just started to  figure out a lot of the features on Duotropes that I should have been using since I found the site.

Stuart Gibbel's picture
Stuart Gibbel from California is reading Angel Falls by Michael Paul Gonzalez January 17, 2012 - 11:08am

Cool reporting.  Please do more. 

 

 

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies January 17, 2012 - 1:45pm

Thanks, guys. Hope it helps. If you have any follow up questions, if there is something I didn't talk about or something that you think of later, post up here or drop me a line.

Dan's picture
Dan from Santa Monica, CA is reading Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk January 18, 2012 - 2:20am

Amazing Richard. Thank you so much!

EdVaughn's picture
EdVaughn from Louisville, Ky is reading a whole bunch of different stuff January 18, 2012 - 6:18pm

Awesome. I've only used Duotrope to search for different places and to just check out what's out there. Now I think I'll go ahead and register and try and keep track of what I'm doing. Thanks Richard.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies January 18, 2012 - 7:32pm

Definitely register and track. You'll feel better sending out more work if you can see where they're going. Let me know if you have any issues.