An Anniversary, a Milestone, and Important News

This month marks three years of Urban Phantasy, and this post is number 100.  Neat, right?  There have been some changes here, and a lot of changes for me since I started writing on this blog.  I started out writing here as an assignment in one of my classes at college during my Junior year, and I’ve kept it up semi-regularly since then largely as a challenge to myself.  In that time, I’ve graduated from college and moved twice, the second time going clear across the country.

I had some ideas for what to devote my 100th post to, and I will get to those, but then I learned that Duotrope’s Digest is going to a subscription model in 2013.  You can read the full announcement straight from the source right here.

I was first told about Duotrope about four years ago and have been using them ever since.  In fact, I was told about the site by the same professor who taught the class where I started this blog.  (You can follow her blog here.)  It’s a valuable resource to writers of fiction, poetry, and, as of this past year, non-fiction, offering a searchable database of thousands of writing markets.  More valuable than that, though, is their submissions tracker, which does what it sounds like, but also offers statistics on acceptances, rejections, re-write requests, and response times for every market.  Since the website was launched, all of these services were offered for free and without ads, though there was a donation button, and every page showed information about how the site’s operating budget was doing for the month.  In all the time that I’ve been a Duotrope user, I don’t think the site’s ever been in the black.

If this were a perfect world, everyone with the means would donate based on what Duotrope was worth to them.  I’ve always donated when I felt I could, and I’ve donated more regularly since I got a steady job, but I’m in a very small minority of Duotrope users who do actually donate.  It’s like public radio, only without Carl Kasell.

How do I feel about this?  Mixed.  As a writer, I’ve come to rely on Duotrope’s Digest–it’s a modern-day version of Writer’s Digest that I can access from anywhere–and it’s something that I can easily fit into my budget.  For a year’s access to all of the site’s features, it’s $50, or if you want to go monthly, it’s $5/month–a few dollars more a month than a subscription to Clarkesworld.  That’s something I don’t even feel the need to justify over the course of a year.  At the same time, I do worry that going to a subscription model could hurt the service–part of the strength of Duotrope is its huge user-base, all of whom help to improve the statistics available.  By excluding people who aren’t willing to pay, the statistics are likely to get skewed somewhat, though I don’t know in which direction.  (As Duotrope already notes, rejections are under-reported, so the statistics for most markets skew towards acceptances.)

Whatever the effect is on Duotrope’s user-base, I’m glad that they’re making a move that will allow them to survive financially.  Whether or not every current user decides to subscribe, I think it’s good that this move will make people ask themselves what this service is worth to them, and that’s a question that should be asked more often, whether the service in question is Duotrope’s Digest or Google or anything else that we too-often take for granted.

Remember, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.


About Hilary B. Bisenieks

Hilary B. Bisenieks (Biss-en-yex) n. 1. An author of fact, fancy, and opinion based out of Oakland, CA. 2. A graduate of the Creative Writing program at Warren Wilson college and Mary Robinette Kowal's Short Story Workshop. 3. A man unable to be trusted to update basic biographical information with any regularity. View all posts by Hilary B. Bisenieks

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