Duotrope costs money

I’m late to the party, but after reading some of the online commentary, felt the need to chime in. Essentially, Duotrope, a very helpful website for writers, used to be free, but is now charging $50/year

I’m a connoisseur and promoter of free stuff. I use free whenever I can – for example, I’m again evaluating a switch to Linux and LibreOffice.I use Google Sites for all my web sites, even thought it’s awkward. I signed up for Google Apps when that was still free. Still sometimes that free stuff works really well. For example, back in the dark ages, WinZip was free, but I liked it so much I donated of my own accord. That was true of Duotrope as well – I’ve been sending $20 a year.

Duotrope does several things:

  1. Search – It organizes venue information, so that you can search by genre, format, pay rate, acceptance ratio, whether you’ve already got something in to them. There are other sources for this information, such as Ralan and Writer’s Market, but I’ve found Duotrope to be easy and reliable.
  2. Tracking – It tracks your submissions. Being a fan of free, I had created my own Excel and Access approaches to this problem. When I found Duotrope, I pitched my own solutions overboard almost immediately; Duotrope just worked better. I’ve been using it happily since then – almost two years now.

Am I disappointed that Duotrope is now paid? Only in the sense that it’s a shame more people didn’t chip in voluntarily.

Do I think $50/year is steep? Yes. I was happy with $20/year. I think that would be a much more reasonable price for what you get. At $50/year, I’m much more likely to jump ship if something else comes along. Had they gone any higher, I’d have let them go. But they didn’t. While I don’t like the price, it’s still worth it. I’ve already signed up for a year.

I wish they’d gone another way. I think there were options. And this may not pan out for the site owners. But they have the right to make that decision. At the same time, they can expect me, as a paying customer, to be much more demanding.

I do worry about the risk, as blogger and writer Alex Shvartsman pointed out, that with a much smaller clientele, Duotrope’s statistics will suffer, which then reduces the value to me. I’m willing to take that chance. The Duotrope folks have been responsive to my suggestions over time, and I think they’ve done a good job. If at this time next year, it’s not working, or there’s a cheaper good option, I’ll reconsider.

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