Posts Tagged ‘Duotrope’

The Duotrope Controversy

Saturday, January 5th, 2013
Duotrope subscription controversy

Is there anything better than Duotrope?

Beaumont Hardy falls on the pro-Duotrope side of the current Duotrope subscription controversy.

Once a free directory of various fiction and non-fiction writing markets and a helpful tool for writers to track their own submissions, Duotrope was unable to sustain itself on user donations alone and has now become a subscription-only site. Users can choose to pay either $5 per month or $50 per year to avail themselves of Duotrope’s services. Some writer/bloggers, like Author Alden argue that the subscription fee will narrow the pool of Duotrope users, skewing the very valuable results of its submission statistics.

It’s very true that if fewer people join Duotrope, the site will necessarily base its statistics on a smaller group of responses, affecting its results. However, the site itself claims that the payment requirement limits its user pool to a self-selected group of more dedicated users who might be more inclined to submit accurate results than free users would. Thus, payment ensures a more reliable set of statistics, according to Duotrope.

But the true importance of Duotrope, we believe, lies not in its submission statistics but in its exhaustive lists of paying and non-paying markets for writings. No other online or print resource contains such extensive and annotated lists. With Duotrope, writers hoping to publish their work can learn of journals, magazines and anthologies that they might never see on the newsstand or in bookstores. Many writers have said that they never would have sold their work if they hadn’t first learned of paying markets on Duotrope. In Part Two of his informative blog post, “Is a Duotrope Subscription Worth the Cost?,” Nathaniel Tower makes a succinct argument for Duotrope’s significant advantages over any other marketplace listings. As he indicates, Duotrope provides a service like no other.

At Beaumont Hardy, we believe that Duotrope’s service is worth its $5/$50 subscription fee. As long as the “duotroopers” are willing to provide us with this unique, well-organized and very helpful information, we are willing to compensate them for their efforts.

Beaumont Hardy has long been a fan of Duotrope. Writers can glean valuable lessons from the submission requirements of the publications it lists.

What do you think of Duotrope’s new subscription requirement? We would love to hear from you.

Learning from Submission Guidelines

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

jungleBeaumont Hardy is a huge fan of Duotrope and its extensive, detailed lists of print and online publications seeking author submissions. Besides acquainting authors with fine journals and magazines they might not otherwise find online or on the newsstand, Duotrope allows writers to focus their submissions on publishers that will be the best “fit” for their writing. Duotrope includes interviews with the editors of many of the publications on its lists; these interviews are extremely helpful to authors who might want to know more about a publication’s style and interests.

Here at Beaumont Hardy, I am also fascinated by the submission guidelines that accompany some of Duotrope’s listings. The guidelines are indispensable to authors who want to know whether their writing is suited to a particular publication. But the guidelines also serve as mini-lessons in writing–reminding writers what makes a story work or obliquely guiding them through a final revision. What follows are some of the many instructive guidelines I have found through Duotrope.

The submission guidelines section for Third Wednesday, a journal that publishes poetry and fiction, provides some useful tips about fiction writing in general. George Dila, the journal’s associate fiction editor, explains why stories that open with description can be problematic. He also expresses his dislike for dialogue at the start of a story. (Read Beaumont Hardy’s take on this dialogue controversy.) Mr. Dila also asks interesting questions about what drives a story’s plot, what keeps a reader’s interest and how writing style contributes to a story. He mentions stories that, to him, don’t “work,” and he mentions hackneyed ideas that editors see far too often. Even for writers who never plan to submit to Third Wednesday, these guidelines are extremely useful in conceiving or revising a story. George Dila’s suggestions are thought-provoking and very valuable.

Bourbon Penn is a journal of “the odd,” and its editors seek surreal, magical stories. But the Bourbon Penn guidelines are useful to writers of any kind of fiction. The editors want stories with honest, complex characters around which the entire story hangs. Based on these guidelines, writers can review their own stories, determining whether their characters have enough complexity and contradiction to breathe life into the story. The journal also seeks “mystery”–stories about which the reader will demand answers. Although not every story is mysterious, writers should always consider whether their stories create this same demand in their readers.

In its submission guidelines, Spilling Ink Review provides an entertaining and illuminating list of what they do not want to publish. This e-journal from Glasgow seeks well-written, original writing, and its list of “don’ts” is very instructive for writers. The editors mention plots that are less-than-successful and grammatical constructions that writers might want to rethink. Knowing what not to do can be incredibly helpful to a writer.

Even if writers never plan to submit to literary magazines with these kinds of detailed submission guidelines, I think there is a lot to be learned from the thoughts and suggestions of journal editors. Anyone contemplating a story or doing a final revision would be wise to listen to the opinions of the professionals at magazines like these.

Duotrope survives on user donations, so be sure to contribute when you use their listings.

The Dialogue Controversy

Friday, March 30th, 2012

jungleDialogue can be surprisingly controversial.

In fact, the submission editors of some literary journals say that they are so offended by stories that open with dialogue that they reject them outright. These submission editors argue that readers can be confused when they don’t know who is speaking or what is happening. Without the help of a “grounding” narrative sentence, the story gets off to an uncomfortable and disorienting start. Submission editors are so busy that they reject a confusing story in favor of one that neatly lays out the action for the reader.

At Beaumont Hardy, I am not so opposed to an opening line of dialogue, as I think it might draw the reader immediately into a story. However, some stories are so complex that writers may need to establish their openings more clearly than dialogue might allow.

Consider this example:

“But wasn’t Charlie supposed to bring the rope?”

Penelope held the flashlight and looked at her boss.

Two sentences into the story, the reader still has no idea what’s happening. Is Penelope speaking? Is Charlie Penelope’s boss? Are there two or three characters in this scene? A confused submission editor might not care enough to read more in order to answer these questions.

A story as complex as this one might need a few expository sentences to set the scene for the dialogue:

Penelope held the flashlight and looked at her boss. He was trying to pry the gate open with a crowbar. Once it swung open, he asked Penelope for the rope.

“But wasn’t Charlie supposed to bring the rope?” Penelope asked.

Or consider this example:

“The green ones are three for a dollar.”

Susan and her brothers shoved each other as they stood in front of the carnival barker.

A reader might wonder who is talking and what that person is talking about. What are the green ones? Is Susan telling her brothers the price of them? Or is the carnival barker the one who is speaking?

Of course, one assumes that the author of the story will explain everything at some point. However, a busy submissions editor might not have time for that explanation, and she or he might toss the story onto the rejection pile after reading the two confusing sentences. Once again, some expository explanation might help:

Susan and her brothers shoved each other as they stood in front of the carnival barker. They had waited all week to buy the marbles he kept in the locked glass case. When Susan asked how much the marbles cost, the barker smiled and unlocked the case. “The green ones are three for a dollar.”

Despite what some submissions editors might say, however, I still think a clear opening line of dialogue can be an effective beginning to a story. If the dialogue conveys enough meaning to explain the action and to suggest the relationship between the characters, it can be a refreshing start to a story.

Consider this example:

“Give me your money.”

The gun felt slippery in Gavin’s hands, but he kept it pointed at the man with the briefcase.

Or:

“I never knew I could bake a pie in a hubcap.”

Susan carried the dessert into the dining room and wondered why her guests looked so startled.

Let us know what you think about dialogue in an opening sentence.

Writers can find the editorial guidelines of various journals at Duotrope, a website that provides an invaluable service to those who might not otherwise know where to submit their stories. The website keeps exhaustive and updated lists of online and print publications that are actively seeking submissions.