Intelligence Report: HeyPublisher

I ran across this site purely out of professional self-interest.  Apex Magazine has started exclusively using HeyPublisher as its submission engine, and I wasn’t NOT going to submit, so what the hey, HeyPublisher.  I figured it was just another submission manager.  Turns out it is, but it professes to be much more.

It’s like the little, fiesty baby of Duotrope and Submishmash.  Like Duotrope, it has a huge database of publishers and it’ll track your submission to any one of them.  Like Submishmash, it’ll keep tabs of where a publisher is on their review process for your work.  Unlike either, HeyPublisher has a bunch more features.  The most notable one is that it will literally store an electronic copy of your entire work on its server.  Another interesting feature is there is an option to workshop with other writers… basically if you get told no by a publisher writers who have been accepted at that same publication can review your story and tell you the specific reasons why editors thought it was garbage. 

I didn’t like it.

That’s just me.  I like to think of myself as relatively keen to embrace new things and technology.  But these guys seem just a little too invasive or too eager or maybe both.  My cynic and skeptic buttons were firing off.

First, they used single-sign on through my email.  I’m just not a fan of sites that grab my email account and say “you now have an account with us too, James Beamon”.  Yes, it’s easier, I get it.  Still, I get the heebies… it’s like meeting someone who asks you where you’re from and when you say it they spit back the first five of your social security number.  Maybe I wanna go through the extra steps to establish an account.

Second, I don’t really like a site automatically keeping a copy of my stuff.  Sure, it’s a smart idea to have an online repository of all your work in case of hard drive failure.  But I’ve had that forever… it’s called email.  Couple that with the fact that you can’t automatically take down your work (you have to email their support team) and it feels clingy.  Putting up hoops for me to jump through just to take down something I didn’t want saved in the first place is not a great way to make friends, even if you are on a first name basis with me because of your single sign on solution.

Three, it doesn’t perform its feature functions better than the two sites it draws from (Duotrope and Submishmash).  Duotrope’s database is more robust, with more entities and better functionality like filtering based on pay rate and response time.  Submishmash gives you a quick and dirty look at your subs and where the publisher’s at… nothing more, nothing less and without being obtrusive. 

Granted, the primary function of HeyPublisher isn’t any of those things.  It’s goal is to allow you to take your uploaded work and submit directly from their site to any publisher in their database. That sounds great… on paper.  The reality is that publishers have a bunch of different guidelines, ranging from file type to manuscript format to what type of things to include (or not include) in your submission letter. 

My attitude can change about this site.  Right now it’s in its infancy.  If publishers adopt a standardized manuscript submission format or make allowances if a submission was received via HeyPublisher, then I can see this being helpful.  But they have miles to go on their publisher database before it’s even remotely as useful as Duotrope.  I don’t know what they can do to make that Rockwell “Somebody’s Watching Me” feeling go away.  Currently the best thing they have going for them is  their blog, which has some really fun stuff on it.  So much fun in fact, that I’m going to discuss it in a later Intelligence Report.

Meanwhile, I’m not trying to naysay for everyone.  I invite you to go there and make up your own mind about it.

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