Today is a contentious day – at least for a subset of the internet. Today is the day Duotrope switches to a subscriber model.
For those who don’t know, Duotrope is an online database of fiction, poetry and non-fiction markets. As well as the basic listings and a weekly email detailing new markets and upcoming anthology deadlines, Duotrope provides a submission tracker and they use the information gathered from it to provide response time statistics for each market.
There are other market sites (Ralan for example) but in my opinion Duotrope is the best. It’s professional, the site design is crisp, clean and generally easy to use and I’ve always found the information to be very reliable. I have a selection of sites that I submit to regularly but I also use Duotrope’s weekly email to to find new markets and anthologies and I do the occasional targeted search if I’m looking for a home for a specific story. I don’t use the response time statistics too much but it’s interesting to have it there.
For the past seven years, Duotrope has been run entirely on donations but only 10% of users ever contributed. That’s not enough to keep the site running so, as of today, Duotrope is subscriber only. It will cost you $5 a month or $50 a year to get access to the site’s features.
Predictably, this generated a lot of discussion around the net including a number of alternative suggestions for funding. The objections seem to fall into two camps – “Whaaaa it used to be free and now it isn’t!” and “$50 is too much – I can just do that myself!”.
Me? I’ve donated to the site several times and although I wasn’t paying $50 a year, I’m fine with doing so from now on. In fact, not only do I not object to the switch I’m actually happy Duotrope has moved to a subscription.
As long as I can remember, Duotrope had been falling short of its monthly funding goals and every time I visited the site I half expected to see a message informing me (regretfully of course) that the site was closing due to lack of funds. By switching to the subscription model, there’s a much better chance it will exist this time next year.
Last year, I submitted to twenty one new markets and I had five stories accepted by publications I’d never heard of until Duotrope told me about them. Duotrope saved me hours of searching the internet, digging around submission guidelines and rummaging through blogs to find those markets. Without those weekly emails I’d be doing finding and tracking market information by hand and that takes time – time I’d rather spend writing.
And that’s the key – time.
My time is worth something. I can even put a number on it – a lot of people work out how much they get paid per hour and use that but in reality my free time is worth a lot more than that.
Every hour I spend wandering the internet looking for somewhere to send my latest story is an hour I can’t spend writing a new story. Finding and tracking markets is not trivial, even with Mr Google to help and I will gladly pay someone else to $4.16 a month to do that for me. That’s far less than I pay for TV, internet, my car, petrol for my car, transit, running or deeply unhealthy snack food.
Of course, there really are people who couldn’t afford to donate to Duotrope and who can’t afford that $5 a month but I’m willing to bet that for most people, $5 a month is eminently affordable. The only difference between me and them is how much value I place on my free time.[Philip Harris]