If you haven’t heard the news, Duotrope, a popular site for tracking literary submissions, is moving to a paid model in January. Under the new pay structure, you can buy a year-long membership for $50, or purchase individual months at $5 each.
Naturally, people were not pleased with the news. Who wants to pay for something if you’ve gotten it for free for years? Unfortunately, the numbers don’t lie and Duotrope can no longer survive on donations alone. Duotrope must start charging for membership, or it will disappear entirely.
It’s not all bad news, though. There are good reasons to pay for Duotrope, and the new model might actually benefit you.
First, let’s take a look at the price. Once the sticker shock fades away, you’re left with the hard numbers. You can pay $5 a month, or $50 a year, which works out to $4.17 per month.
That’s less than the price of a large frappucino, and unlike the frappucino, you can enjoy a Duotrope membership for more than fifteen minutes. Put another way: if you saved a quarter during each weekday in 2013, you would be able to pay for a year’s membership and 1/3 of next year’s membership.
Fifty dollars a year breaks down to fourteen cents a day. Though there are people who cannot afford that, it is well within the reach of many aspiring authors. The new price model also allows for gift subscriptions, which means friends and family can help support your writing (without writing those suspicious-sounding reviews).
Some writers are concerned that Duotrope’s statistics will become less useful when the data pool shrinks. Duotrope itself addressed these concerns, and they expect their statistics to become more accurate. It turns out that the people who submit frequent, valid reports are also likely to be donators to and active users of the site.
Though the number of total Duotrope users will drop, Duotrope will retain the most helpful contributors. This isn’t an unfounded assumption: by tracking membership pre-orders, Duotrope has already accounted for 51,000 submission reports and seen a decrease of 92% in unreliable data.
Unlike scientific studies where a bigger sample size is almost always better, reliable data is the heart of Duotrope. To an extent, there are right and wrong answers. Claiming a one-day wait before reporting a submission as “never responded” is not helpful for anyone. The new subscription model discourages erroneous reporting from single-submission users.
Your Writing Career
We’ve said before: if you want to make money from your writing, you have to treat it like a business. Duotrope now joins the ranks of Scrivener, writing magazine subscriptions, nice pens, and notebooks as useful writer tools. You certainly don’t need any fancy extras to be a writer, but these tools increase your productivity and open your eyes to new markets.
The new membership structure could gel well with your personal style. Month-to-month memberships can light a fire under procrastinators. If you know you only have a week left to use the site, you might enjoy scrambling to submit before the deadline. If you’re hesitant to pay for the service, that might work in your favor, too. You might end up submitting more stories to justify the price and feel like you got your money’s worth.
Whether submitting under deadline or submitting due to buyer’s remorse, increased queries in targeted markets can only help your writing career.
You might examine all the angles and still decide that Duotrope isn’t right for you. That’s fine, too. We’re not demanding that every writer must get a subscription. We’re just asking you to consider things besides cost.
Do you want to win a six-month subscription to Duotrope?
Share this post, then comment below explaining how you would use your subscription, why you would like the subscription, or how Duotrope has helped you in the past. Be sure to use the same name for both the share and the comment. The contest will run until January 10th, 2013. A random winner will be selected from all valid entries and the winner will be notified by January 15th, 2013. This is a PopularSoda contest and not affiliated with Duotrope.