Thursday, May 22, 2008

Does Duotrope Have a Downside?

If you read this blog regularly you know that I am a true fan of Duotrope.com. I am, in fact, one of those users who actually does donate to the site in an effort to keep it accessible to all. I love the frequent market updates, the theme calendar, the information on new markets, the free newsletters. For the most part, I think Duotrope's just peachy.

But if I do have a problem with Duotrope, here it is: Sometimes, the site is just a little too generous, as far as its submission response records are concerned. Too ample for this practicing writer's own good, anyway.

Perhaps some of you can empathize. Maybe you've sent a story or a set of poems out. Maybe you've seen, on Duotrope, a series of responses coming back--rejections AND acceptances--for others who evidently submitted work to the same litmag(s) after you sent yours.

So maybe you also go back through your own records and log onto the particular litmag's online system. Maybe you discover that your work is STILL being considered (or so the system says). You e-mail the litmag's editors (after rechecking to verify that you've waited out an appropriate interval). Nothing. What's going on?

You check Duotrope again. And again. That's the "problem" with Duotrope. Sometimes, it's a little TOO accessible.

Am I alone in this mini-obsession? Or can any of you identify?

14 comments:

Lisa R. said...

I know this will sound Pollyanna-ish, but that's one section of that site I NEVER use. It's just too agita-inducing and I'm good enough at producing stress on my own.
My theory is: Send it and forget it. At least until the wait gets really annoying, then follow-up.
I have also heard others say, "no news is good news" -- that peices under consideration DO hang around longer than the rejects.

Erika D. said...

Thanks, Lisa. Yes, I know it can take longer to get an acceptance. My worries REALLY kick in when I see acceptances that have taken less time than my work has been out. Does that make sense? Anyway, I think you're right--probably better to avoid that site section altogether.

J.D. said...

You read my mind, Erika. It's especially frustrating when the magazine itself doesn't specify its response time on the website or in the writer's guidelines. I thought Duotrope might help me in the "waiting game," but it's just making me more anxious! I like the idea of no response being a good response, though. There's always hope...

Anonymous said...

I find on-line submissions in general to generate my obsessive tendancies. When I mail out a submission, I can just forget it - well, somewhat - but when there is an on-line tracking system, I find I check it almost daily. Right now I have submissions floating around 5 different lit mags, and all 5 were on-line submissions. Not good. Too much checking and rechecking. Next time I'll go snail mail.

Erika D. said...

Thanks for the additional input, folks!

Pamela said...

One thing that I noticed about Duotrope that skews those response times is that a friend of mine was new to duotrope and logged all her submissions in on the date she signed up for Duotrope, not the previous dates she'd submitted. That definitely would torque her submissions response time. She could submit and be rejected the same day. I asked her to change it based on stats like these. Maybe she will...but she's an awful procrastinator.

Erika D. said...

Thanks for the comment, Pamela. It's too bad to hear about the way your friend reported her submissions. It seems to me that Duotrope actually makes it easy to be accurate, with the calendars and all, so logging in the wrong dates seems so unnecessary AND counterproductive.

Anonymous said...

Main reasons not to look utilize that part of duotrope are:
numbers are askew anyway because some do and some don't report responses. Another thing, duotrope will not report a response they think is suspicious which happens frequently. In other words, if you have had poems accepted recently and then you get another one accepted right away, they find that "suspicious" and will not count it.

Native Ink said...

I can totally relate to your situation. I have a story that's been at two different top-flight literary magazines for several months longer than average (according to Duotrope). When I see a slew of much quicker responses being reported on Duotrope, I sometimes fantasize my story is on the verge of making the final cut. Then I return to earth and believe it's much more likely my manuscript got lost behind a desk somewhere. How did your long waits turn out? Did any of them end in an acceptance?

Erika D. said...

You know, Native Ink, I think a couple of them did result in acceptances.

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan and small contributor to Duotrope. The site may be down at the moment and that's a wake up call to me to have a backup tracking method. I do keep a written log but often wait a week or more before making those entries. Now I'll be more careful.

With regard to response times..it isn't Duotrope's fault if literary journals are inconsistent with their replies. I feel that rejections should come through more quickly but it may not be the case. I've had things rejected in 5 days and in 180 days. I've had pieces accepted in a week and waited 3 months. The journals are the culprit and not Duotrope. Does this make sense?

Marc M said...

Duotrope is great, but it can be a double edged sword. I too have the same obsessive tendencies. I look at the average waiting time of pending responses, then I look at their average acceptance and rejection time, than I check their what's new page to see updates on acceptances and rejections, then I go to the magazine websites to check the status of my online submissions...uhhmm yes in short all that free information has made me a bit obsessive.

Native Ink said...

I saw on Duotrope today that 10 authors had gotten form rejections from Crazyhorse after waiting more than 300 days. Crazyhorse's average response time is listed as 138 days. I wonder if any of the writers had started to get their hopes up. Personally, I probably would have been checking Duotrope for most of those 300+ days.

Anonymous said...

Magazines have various methods for handling submissions. Some of those with larger staffs divide the slush among several readers, each with their own schedule and personal quirks. You can see on Duotrope when one of them gets around to weeding through a batch. There will be several repsonses on the same day after no activity for weeks with a range of days out. Longer might be good, more often it just means procrastination. Most of my acceptances have come pretty soon after subbing, all but two or three of about 150 within two months.