Oh Duotrope

To not much surprise and a lot of shitty commentary Duotrope has announced that they are going paid as of Jan. 1.

I have been (as I mentioned recently) heavily reliant on Duotrope for the last few years and donate when I am able.

In the past year I’ve donated about 35$ which is not even enough to cover a year of their new membership.

I kind of think they are not doing it right.

First, frankly they have engaged in a tid bit of classicism if you can’t afford it/aren’t willing to sacrifice you’re probably not worth it anyway type shit. I’ve seen a lot of writers doing that as well on their facebook page and it makes me ill.

As when there was widespread wank about if you can’t afford to subscribe to journals you shouldn’t submit to them.

I call classicism bullshit.

Here’s the thing.

If we go back to 1994 when I first was trying to get published at all at 17 let me tell you how I had to do it.

I would skip school lunch for one to two weeks. With my precious 7-8 dollars I would then buy single fancy (someone had told me that you HAD to use very high quality paper to submit to literary magazines, I was a baby I didn’t know better), several sheets of equally fine paper and two stamps. I would then go to the library or to Kinkos if I had enough money and painstakingly edit cut chop and perfect things (as I know now, often ruining said things because I’m a terrible editor).

Now using that same model fast forward to me working a terrible corporate job where I got called a lot of names for not a lot of pay. I did the same thing. I would figure out how many meals I could skip or if I could eat half a ramen for lunch and the other half for dinner I could save enough to buy very specific lit mags. Always one at a time, maybe two if I was really lucky.

You know what this did to make me a better writer? Or up the quality of my submissions?

Fuck. All.

All the people who think it’s perfectly easy for someone who is very poor to “make the sacrifice” is being a fucking asshole. Those are people I don’t believe understand the real experience of having to choose between food and stamps, food and medication, rent and medication.

Suffering like that might give one material for later on but in the moment it’s not romantic, it doesn’t make one  a better writer it just fucking sucks.

I will never romanticize poverty because I’ve experienced poverty on a level that some of the people who cry, just don’t eat at McDonald’s/buy a coffee whatever probably haven’t.

It’s not cute and no it’s not okay.

So yes, we know that classcism like this sets me off.

All that said, I discussed it with my partner who does not go into poverty panic mode about these things and he said that we can do it.

So I will be shelling out the 50$ because I don’t honestly have the time to do my submitting the way I used to.

When I first got on the internet here is what I’d do. I googled and would set up a folder of links to lit mags. I would then spend hours and hours reading them. I would research the writers in them to get a better feel for their tastes etc. Blablabla.

This method took days and days. I wrote a lot less and it did not work very well for me and resulted in my output being lowered a great deal.

Back to Duotrope and them doing it wrong.

I also think that a lot of the opposition is indeed sticker shock. 50$ right at the holidays is a pretty big sum to demand. Especially given that a lot of people are doubtful that their statistics are going to be as useful, their announcement and subsequent repetition of and no real handling of any of the good critical comments, at least publicly are a turn off. If you look at their facebook page, they just keep repeating the announcement over and over.

Not really a good move.

Their our information is private thing they’ve said is kind of a turn off as well.

I think not offering student discounts or institutional memberships is also a huge huge mistake. I’ve already heard from a lot of teachers who serve underrepresented and impoverished students are scrambling. That is not okay. However, it is again that flavor of classicism that says if you can’t afford it we don’t want you anyway. It’s subtle but insidious.

Back to me.

For me this 50$ represents a lot.

For me personally this is a moment where I’m telling myself I can invest 50$ and while no, I don’t get paid often from my writing it’s okay.

So I’m calling me paying this as much as it pains me to support some of the bullshittery, therapy for myself.

Maybe after this I can more seriously think about investing in things like a laptop and whatnot.

So there.

I think that’s all. I have a lot of writing to do this week and I want to get some more things done before the end of the year

Okay that’s really all.


7 thoughts on “Oh Duotrope

  1. If a year subscription were still $35, the amount you donated in the past year, would you do it?

    We’ve seen a lot of value, as a startup literary journal, in being listed on Duotrope. Our way of giving back was to add a $35 one-year subscription as a reward for backing our Kickstarter fundraiser.

    Think about it: you’d be supporting great writing AND getting the Duotrope subscription for about what you thought it was worth before the pricing change.

    The reward details are here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/434446050/spark-a-creative-anthology/pledge/new?backing%5Bbacker_reward_id%5D=1234817&clicked_reward=true

    … and the full Kickstarter project is here: http://SparkAnthology.org/support

    1. I approved this. However did you actually read this entry? I would pay for Duotrope at 35$, I wasn’t paying for a paid service when I donated that money over the past year but donating because of how much I rely on using the site.

      Also if you want some links or want me to promote your project all you have to do is ask. I am very open about promoting other people’s stuff, this comment came across a little spammy. i don’t know if that was your intent but that’s how it read to me at first.

      Also right this moment I have 10$ to support myself and my partner until my next paycheck. So no I won’t be able to donate to your literary magazine right now. I am curious however as to how you got such a discounted rate for subscriptions being that they are sticking with the single price point subscriptions and there are no student or otherwise discounted subscriptions. Or does it mean 35$ worth which would be 7 months at the standard 5$ a month rate?

  2. I’m sorry if I came across as spammy; if it did to you, then it will to others, and that’s not my intent at all. I’d rather just not have my comment show up, because you’re right: on second read, I sound like kind of a dick.


    The $35 is basically a $15 loss for me, because I am saying, “I got so much free exposure from writers being able to use Duotrope for free that it’s worth a small loss in order to build some goodwill toward the writers that have shown such interest.”

    Exactly the kind of goodwill I do NOT accomplish by sounding spammy.

    Thanks for responding and approving the comment, and I’d be happy for you to unapprove it with my apologies for the unintended offense.

    1. AH I gotcha. I don’t mind leaving your comment visible. No offense taken. My audience is neither huge nor wealthy but, someone might want to contribute.

      I think the math on taking the loss while you’re fundraising kind of comes off a bit daft. My first thought was why aren’t these people keeping their 15$. I think offering the month to month along with your other contributor prices rather than promising a whole year for the less than rate might be a better initial impression.

  3. The entire approach is wrong. As has been suggested elsewhere, journals should pay to be listed on Duotrope–it should remain free to poets, who as a group must be one of the poorest in the country. But look at the entire industry: it’s all going pay-to-play, with endless contests with ever-increasing entry (i.e. “sucker”) fees, journals charging for the “convenience” (what of THEIR convenience?) of submitting online, etc. Smart capitalists would target a richer population for their predatory strategies.

  4. Pingback: I lived in the future. 2012 in review. « About that Writing thing.

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