Literacy: it’s getting so that everyone can write these days. And say you can write, and you’ve written something. Maybe just tinkering around, maybe getting some cool idea down on paper or processor. Now what?
You can be like me. I know what you’re thinking. “Mr. Semi-pro, Mr. Semi-pro, you went from absolute nobody to absolute nobody with a cool forty dollars in his pocket slanging stories. How’d you do it?”
You too can go from being completely obscure to relatively obscure by using the same site I used: Duotrope’s Digest.
When I say it’s an absolute must-have for every writer I mean it. It’s the best thing to happen to poets and storytellers since that time aliens from the planet QWERTY left their keyboard here by accident.
What’s it do? I’m glad I pretended I was you asking!
Rejection’s a big part of this business. Blame literacy. Blame overpopulation or fossil fuels. Just know that if you send your work out, you’re gonna get some “no” back. I’ll cover rejection and how to cope in a later installment of Creative Combat Writing, but right now let’s focus what to do when you start getting them.
Ok, so as a new writer let’s say you’ve written three things you’re proud to call yours and have shopped them around. Manuscript X has come back twice with a seal of disapproval, Manuscript Y has come back four times, and Manuscript Z has come back once but is now languishing at a big name publishing house and could come back any day now with a no, but you hope it’ll be yes… please be yes.
At any rate, you have Manuscript X and Y raring to go out and get bloody on the battlefield once again. So you think, X would fit well in Variety. But wait a minute, didn’t I already send X to Variety? Or was that Y? So you dig through your submission acknowledgement emails (provided the publishing house sends those, cause all of them don’t) and your email’s sent items folder. You discover that was Z you sent to Variety! Ah, so you send X on it’s way and now you try to figure out where to send Y. You look at Y again and realize that it’s kinda offbeat, who the heck wants this kind of stuff?
Duotrope fixes all these logistics problems. They track your stories and/or poems. They track thousands of markets. Everytime you send X, Y, or Z off to do battle for approval, you can tell Duotrope which piece you sent, who you sent it to, and when. It’ll keep tabs for you. It also keeps track of very useful tidbits like how long your work’s been out there fighting the good fight along with that publisher’s average return time on manuscripts and their stated estimated return time, meaning if you bust that estimated time, that’s about the time to start sending query letters about your work.
The site also provides news and weekly updates if you sign up for the newsletter. These updates let you know what new markets and contests are out there, which markets have closed their doors to new submissions, and which markets have died.
Don’t know what markets to even try submitting your work to? Duotrope takes care of that as well, with a search database that will let you query on genre, subgenre, style, word length, pay rates… it’s in-depth. So just when you thought there was no market for your mystery poems… guess again!
They have other nifty features that I’ll leave you to discover on your own as you look through the site. Long blog short, Duotrope takes care of the tedious issues of who wants X and who’s got Y and where has Z been… leaving you free to write. Speaking of, did I mention that Duotrope is free to use?