07 January 2013 ~ 22 Comments

Introducing: The Submissions Grinder

written by David Steffen

Last month I wrote an article discussing a major event in the writing world: Duotrope requiring a subscription. Among other things I talked about how I thought that Duotrope had handled it badly. I sent a rewording of those suggestions to Duotrope because I really would like to see them continue to be a useful resource, and I got a polite reply that essentially said their plan was fine. The biggest problem with their plan is that it drives their data away by charging high subscription fees. The data is what makes them more valuable than others. (For those of you who don’t know, Duotrope is a writer’s resource that allows you to track submissions, look up markets, and see statistics compiled from user submissions data)

Well, we at Diabolical Plots have not been sitting idly since that article was written. We have been actively working on creating a Duotrope replacement for which we will never require a subscription fee. Anthony Sullivan has been our technical expert, as our resident web guru. I have been the monkey with the wrench that hits things to see if I can break them, as well as market data entry. The Submissions Grinder is already running and ready to go, though we have some work to do yet updating the market listings. Behold, The Submissions Grinder! Please help us signal boost, share this with any writer or group of writers that you can. The more people try us out, the more data there will be to make it useful for everyone.

It’s easy to get started:
1. Go to the Submissions Grinder site.
2. Register, setting up a new account.
3. Once you’re registered and logged in, go to Account link.
4. There you will see an option “Import your Duotrope Data”. This takes the Duotrope export file and imports it so that you pick up right where you left off there. You can do that only once.

And you’re ready to go. Just go to the Account link to do most things, including Manage Pieces which lets you add new stories, and Manage Submissions which lets you add new submissions or resolve existing ones.

How can you help?

The launch is not contingent on fundraising. We may launch some fundraising in the future if we want to try to cover some costs, but again we are committing to not charging for subscriptions. That will not happen.

In the meantime, if you think this effort is worthwhile there are two things you can do, both of which will make the site more useful for YOU as well:
1. Signal Boost. Share the link everywhere that you can, with writers and writers’ groups and re-tweeting and what-have you. The more users that try it out, the more data we have to summarize and share with all.
2. Import your Duotrope data. Each new market imported in Duotrope data becomes an entry for a market that we will update. It will take us a while, but your imports will help guide us–the more submissions to a market the sooner we’ll get to that one. The more data, the more useful the site will be.
3. Suggest new markets, with URLs so that we can find them.
4. The site should serve all of the basic functions we need, but we have plans to make it even better. Along those lines, leave suggestions here for changes that would make it even more useful.


22 Responses to “Introducing: The Submissions Grinder”

  1. Brent Knowles 7 January 2013 at 6:09 pm Permalink

    Cool news! I was contemplating doing this but was too lazy to get motivated.

    Anyways, a minor mistake on the add submission page:

    1. **Date Reeived:** spelling error.

    2. It might be convenient to have the Date Sent autofilled in to current date (and to have a date/time picker)

    3. I got trapped in the add submission form. I had not added any pieces but had entered the other data and there was no way to get the piece I added (by opening a new tab) to appear without backing out and starting over. Not a big deal for now, but down the road would be nice to address.

    Anyways, good luck with this!

  2. Richard Flores IV 7 January 2013 at 6:23 pm Permalink

    This is awesome. Be prepared for the influx of web traffic. We recently took Duotrope off our rejection letters at Plasma Frequency because we didn’t support the going paid. If this seems to work out, we will replace that with your site.

    Best of luck, I’ve already registered.

  3. Iseult Murphy 7 January 2013 at 11:04 pm Permalink

    This is a wonderful idea. Thank you. I have already signed up. Long live The Submission Grinder!

  4. c dorf 8 January 2013 at 12:22 am Permalink

    What about poetry websites?

  5. Anthony Sullivan 8 January 2013 at 1:45 am Permalink

    Thanks for all the great feedback folks!

    We’re working hard to get the site more stable and fix the handful of issues.

    @c dorf: For no reason other than we are fiction writers, we started with fiction but non-fiction and poetry submission support is coming soon!

    Feel free to go ahead and begin suggesting the poetry markets you enjoy in the meantime. :)

  6. J.W. Alden 8 January 2013 at 8:25 am Permalink

    Great to see the project up and running, collecting data. I’ll add this to my list of Free Duotrope Alternatives over on AuthorAlden.com. Thanks so much for being one of the first ones to step up and fill the void! I look forward to seeing how the Grinder grows and changes moving forward.

  7. J.W. Alden 8 January 2013 at 8:38 am Permalink

    By the way, just a friendly suggestion, you might want to add the word “beta” somewhere on the front page of the grinder, so new users sent here by twitter links and what not realize that the project will be growing and changing from the basic state it’s in now. Otherwise, you might get some complaints from people who don’t realize this is a work-in-progress.

    Good luck!

  8. Krystal Claxton 8 January 2013 at 12:21 pm Permalink

    This is awesome work–and only a week after Duotrope closed to non-subscribers, too!

    Suggestions: I would like to second Brent’s #3 suggestion above. Would it be possible to support a field on the Add Submission form that allows us to add a new piece while creating a submission? And what do you think of a link to the Add Submission form on the Profile Account dashboard?

    Thanks for sharing this with us, it looks great so far!

  9. Paul 8 January 2013 at 2:06 pm Permalink

    Another couple of things that would be useful in the market search engine: 1) searching by country, 2) steampunk as an additional genre.

  10. Stewart 8 January 2013 at 3:30 pm Permalink

    Although I still don’t see why people wanting to get paid for their hard work is a big deal, more options never hurt. :)

    Note a few typos on every single market page:
    The more data we have ***teh*** more accurate our numbers will be so please be sure to log all of your ***submission*** here and not just your rejects or acceptances.

    (And should that be “rejections”?)

  11. Anthony Sullivan 8 January 2013 at 4:23 pm Permalink

    Thanks everyone for your great feedback and support. We’re making a note of your suggestions and we’ll be using them to make the site better in the coming hours, days and weeks.

    @Stewart: You’re right, nothing wrong with getting paid for your efforts, and there it is not to say we’ll never have a fundraiser but we’ll never restrict access to this service because we think the value in all of these statistics comes from the underlying data and restricting that data set will dilute the product.

    thanks again for your support. We’re doing this for you guys!

  12. Anthony Sullivan 8 January 2013 at 4:23 pm Permalink

    Also, why do I look so grummpy in my gravatar? I need to work on that.

  13. David Steffen 8 January 2013 at 4:50 pm Permalink

    What Anthony said about getting paid for your work–I tried to be clear about that in my previous post.

    Anthony–I wouldn’t say that your gravatar looks grumpy, more skeptical. If I had to make a caption for that image, it would be “Bitch, please.” 😀

  14. Vaughan Stanger 10 January 2013 at 6:47 am Permalink

    I’m impressed with what I’ve seen of the Submissions Grinder in action so far.

    Would it be possible to see a longer list of recent responses? Going back a couple of weeks, perhaps.

  15. Catherine Warren 10 January 2013 at 2:41 pm Permalink

    Great job, and thank you!

    I imported my Duotrope data, but only the acceptances came through. Not a terrible problem to have, right? It looks like my acceptances are 100%… but it’s not accurate. I’ve already done my one-and-only Duotrope import, so it’s not fixable for my account I’m sure, and that’s fine — but maybe something to look into so future importers won’t experience the same issue!

    Thanks again!

  16. Anthony Sullivan 10 January 2013 at 2:45 pm Permalink


    Shoot me an email (anthony at diabolicalplots dot com) and I’ll get you fixed up.

  17. ctgarry 11 January 2013 at 4:13 am Permalink

    Honestly there is value in offering an additional direction in the search. There are attributes that could be searched that are not in Duotrope. There are thousands of places to publish and frankly I would like more help in narrowing the list. I am finding it difficult to pinpoint venues that are “serious” or “well-regarded” or publish things that turn out to win awards or make a claim to size of readership or have an indication of how long they have been publishing and so on. Think of how *new* writers are prone to approach the site. And how woefully inexperienced visitors are not going to tell the difference between Analog and a WordPress blog. You could offer a “wizard” that would guide new users to a suitable stable of venues. Editorialize a little in a column – even have guest writers discuss how to select from among venues that don’t allow multiple submissions.

    Of course if this all exists somewhere else I will happily make a new bookmark and call it good, but I’ve been writing a long time. I’ve been submitting only recently. What tools can you build or recommend?

    thanks for everything

  18. David Steffen 11 January 2013 at 9:12 am Permalink

    ctgarry–that’s an interesting idea. I’m not sure that’s our place as a market listing to tell you which magazines are more reputable and which ones are not, and I’m not sure how we’d do it. If we caught up to Duotrope on market listings, we’d have something like 4000-some markets, and we certainly haven’t read samples of them all to compare. When I update a listing I am going 100% by the information provided in their submission guidelines, so it would not be straightforward to get that information.

    I think that we have to stay impartial as the keepers of this information service. If we start saying that one market is better than another in our own personal opinion, through the site, then the markets that are not favored could reasonably want their listings removed. By keeping it impartial we provide the information but make no judgment call.

    If you want an idea of what markets are regarded well, blogging or award results would probably do you better. For instance, if you want information regarding SF and Fantasy, Google for the Hugo award nominees and winners for the last 10 years (keeping in mind that there are many fine publications that don’t get nominations for various reasons).

  19. Anthony Sullivan 11 January 2013 at 9:33 am Permalink

    To add to Davids post, while we don’t think it is our place (at least within the venue of The Grinder) to editorialize on the quality of markets. There is additional meta data coming down the pipe that might be of use to you.

    I plan to add indicators for markets that are recognized by professional organizations like SFWA as well an indicator if a market has won any notable awards. While I think you would doing yourself a disservice by limiting yourself to markets that have won awards, it can still be useful meta data to work with.

    Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. Please keep them coming!

  20. Chris Sarantopoulos 18 March 2014 at 5:33 pm Permalink

    Excellent idea and nice implementation so far. It would be helpful if you were to add an search option based on acceptance/rejection percentages (taking into account, of course, a minimum number of submissions in order for the system to return more accurate results).
    Keep up the good work!

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