Six Reasons Why Duotrope Is A Game Changer For Publishing Short Fiction And Poetry

six

As you may know, I offer publishing consultancy services for writers looking to publish their writing.

Here’s a dirty little secret, you can do the job 100% by yourself. Tonight, I am going to expound on why if you write short fiction and/or poetry, you need to subscribe to Duotrope.com. For only $5/month ($50/year), you gain access to a searchable index of over 5,000 literary journals. Without a doubt, Duotrope is the key to finding esteemed literary magazines to publish your short fiction and poetry.

Here are six reasons why any short story writer or poet needs to get on Duotrope:

  1. You can search to find journals that match your writing – Regardless of what genre you write in, you can find journals that will publish your type of writing by searching based on genre, subgenre, style, topic, and audience.
  2. You can search based on acceptance ratio – If you need a confidence boost, you can search by acceptance ratio and find journals with higher acceptance rates.
  3. You can search by average response time – Many literary magazines take at least a month to respond and waiting as long as six months for a decision is not uncommon. If you are looking to quickly rack up publications, you can search based on fastest response time.
  4. You can understand what editors are looking for – For many literary journals featured on Duotrope, there are interviews with editors, allowing you to better understand the rationale behind their selection process and what pet peeves they have about many of the individuals who submit to their publications.
  5. You can get paid – Granted, few literary magazines pay for short stories or poems and those that do rarely offer more than $50, but if money is a factor, you can use Duotrope to find literary journals that offer financial compensation to their contributors.
  6. You can keep track of your submissions – Duotrope is extremely convenient for writers who plan to send out their poetry and short fiction to many publications. Using Duotrope, you can track your submissions. This can come in handy when you need to remember if a poem or short story has been submitted to a publisher already, and if so, if it can be simultaneously submitted.

I guarantee that if you utilize Duotrope, it will be a lot easier to find journals to publish your short fiction or poetry.

Of course, even using Duotrope, finding places to publish does require some time and effort. You can click here for more information about my publishing consultancy services if you would prefer to kick your feet up and relax.

Love And The Writeaholic

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The message of this post is simple: Embrace love and enjoy life!

As a writer, it’s easy to push love away, to neglect exercise, to avoid seeing friends, to become a hermit, to miss out on life. For the sake of both your well-being and your writing – don’t do that!

By all means, stay focused on chasing your literary dreams. Take time to write because that’s the easiest way to improve your craft. Take time to network with other writers because they will help you learn of opportunities. Take time to target publications because if done effectively, you may get your writing published. However, don’t make those goals your entire life. Doing so will only stunt your creativity and your mental health.

On this Valentine’s Day, if you are fortunate enough to have a love to share it with, embrace him or her, and maybe, for the night, put down the pen.

 

Writer’s Spotlight: Punk Science by Dee Em Vine

I would like to thank Dee Em Vine for their wonderful post the other day, which you can read here just in case you missed it: “Writing Through Chaos: Finding The Will To Write When Everything’s A Mess.”

Dee Em Vine is both an incredibly talented writer and a close friend. They have been kind enough to allow me to publish their play, Punk Science. Below is an excerpt. To read the full play, please click here.

CHEYENNE

So what do you do for a living?

NINA

I’m a grad student

CHEYENNE

Oh, wow. What for?

NINA

Creative Writing.

CHEYENNE

You’re right. I am judging you.

Dee Em Vine is a fiction author, entertainer, and artist. Vine was born in Chicago and raised between Northern Illinois and the Tampa Bay region of Florida. A drifter at heart, they write characters who frequently find themselves on the move. Vine’s literary work seamlessly weaves the fantastical with the political.

You can follow Dee Em Vine on Tumblr by clicking here.

Guest Post: Writing Through Chaos: Finding The Will To Write When Everything’s A Mess by Dee Em Vine

Every writer possesses an arsenal of excuses for not writing. A full-time student with a part-time job struggles to scrawl pages of thoughts onto paper in her down time. Mothers of young children must tend to their offspring’s every whim. A man whose day job saddles him with extra-long hours is too tired to pick up a pen by the time he gets home. The rapid advancement of technology over the course of the past three decades has created a cultural working environment not suitable for creative thought. Writing for a living can seem as allusive to some as becoming the next Hollywood starlet. Yet, the world of publishing has become more accessible than ever before. Prolific and talented writers will always find a market for their work. You can be one of them.

When I was a child, I enjoyed writing and drawing comics. As I grew older, I felt more inclined to hone in on my writing skills. As a result, I haven’t drawn anything in years. Part of this is because once I enrolled in university, my life simply became too busy to create comics by myself. I felt overwhelmed by my course load bundled with the side work I needed to make ends meet. After college, I experienced a summer of unemployment in NYC. Fed up with the lack of opportunities, I decided to begin teaching full time in China. I went from having a completely unstructured schedule to working sixteen hour days. With every new contract, the cycle continued. At first, I felt quite depressed and powerless. I couldn’t muster the inspiration or energy to write.

Then one day, as I sat in a fishing boat in the middle of a lake thinking about my visa, my muse came flying back. I went home and finished my first novel after several years of adding bits and pieces to it. I believe that taking that moment to enjoy a change of scenery helped me to come up with fresh ideas. It doesn’t have to be a big change, either. If you normally work in a Starbucks, try bringing your notebook to the park. Switch coffee for tea. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Breaking the mold is what good writing is all about.

Additionally, I think full-time writers should have as few responsibilities as possible. Minimize debt, cut back on the non-essentials of your budget, and get used to living a simple life. I definitely recommend having a day job. If you can’t find a daytime job, try volunteering. Regular social interaction is important for your mental health and your writing. You will need new events in your life to keep you motivated and new conversations to improve your dialogue. Being a writer shouldn’t be synonymous with being a hermit. That’s a bad stereotype I wish we could get rid of.

Finally, even in the most chaotic moments — when your midterms are due and you haven’t studied, when your baby is crying, when your parents are yelling — learn how to stay grounded. Make yourself an immovable rock in the storm. Filter that chaotic energy around you and put it into words. Use the notes app on your smartphone to take down new story ideas as they pop into your head. If you aren’t big on using tech, carry around a small notebook and a pen to write down ideas. Whatever you do, don’t shut down. Don’t put down the pen. Someone out there needs to see your words.

 

Dee Em Vine is a fiction author, entertainer, and artist. Vine was born in Chicago and raised between Northern Illinois and the Tampa Bay region of Florida. A drifter at heart, they write characters who frequently find themselves on the move. Vine’s literary work seamlessly weaves the fantastical with the political.

You can follow Dee Em Vine on Tumblr by clicking here.

Constructive Criticism: Not Everyone Will Find Your Writing Perfect…Or Even Decent

A few days ago, I gave a copy of one of my short stories to a rather erudite business partner. I mistakenly thought that she would appreciate it, especially since I was rather fond of this piece, believing it to be one of my best works of short fiction.

I was convinced that this short story had a great deal of merit: the innovative voice of the protagonist; the experimental nature of the prose; and the content’s challenge to the middle-class values that dominate the literary world all appeared, from my vantage point, to have been executed rather well. I proudly crowed that the story had already been rejected by a certain publishing house that claimed to be in the market for edgy fiction, but balked at the content of this story as being far too offensive to publish.

To say that my business partner disliked this short story is a dramatic understatement. She hammered me about the lack of merits of that particular piece. It reminded me of when I was a Creative Writing student at Beloit College, and how I felt like I was in front of a firing squad when my fiction was critiqued by my professor and classmates.

However, my business partner’s point made a lot of sense. She told me that she had a lot of misgivings about the fact that my protagonist was not redeemed in any way at the end of the story. Essentially, what she did not like was that there was no arc to the character’s trajectory, despite the fact that the short story was roughly 4,000 words (flash fiction can get away with no arc, it able to rest on being a “snapshot” far more easily than possible for more expansive short fiction). I took her advice into consideration, and when I revise the piece, will address this concern.

My partner, unlike me, has a particular world view that colors her lifestyle, and this extends into her reading preferences. She is a firm adherent to the school of positive thinking. In my professional pursuits and overall lifestyle, I am not the stereotypical gloomy writer. However, though I maintain an enormous amount of positivity at all times, my fiction can hardly be described as “positive.” She and I argued for a bit about the purpose of fiction. She claimed that it should, as all things should, uplift. I don’t hold that particular viewpoint. In fact, I believe that fiction that is inherently moralistic is usually quite awful.

The point is, she, just like that one particular publishing house, did not like that piece because of their particular biases. Not everyone will like your writing either. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. I can’t recall how many people I know who have lambasted Stephen King, Dan Brown, or J. K. Rowling, yet they are among the highest paid and most successful writers. While my own tastes are more inclined to realism of the school of Raymond Carver and John Cheever, or the Southern Gothic of Carson McCullers and Flannery O’Connor, I can acknowledge that King, Brown, and Rowling have talent, and every book that I’ve read by them I have enjoyed. It’s as simple as different strokes for different folks.

When you get harshly criticized by someone who reads your piece, remember the following:

  1. Not everyone likes that particular type of literature. It’s not a personal attack. It just means that your writing does not happen to be that particular person’s cup of tea.
  2. Most people have good intentions and their criticisms are designed to help you improve your writing. Unless you are associating with bottom of the barrel types, when individuals critique your writing, it is out of a desire to see you grow. Listen to their criticisms, and if you find them valid, take heed.

In short: As a writer, there is no way around it – you will deal with an extreme amount of criticism. To stay sane, please don’t take it personally. 

How do you feel when others aggressively criticize your writing? Do you find it helpful, or does it seem like an attack? I’d love to hear your perspectives.

In success,
Alfonso

Don’t Put Yourself In A Literary Box

I have an MFA; genre fiction is beneath me.

I love sci-fi; why should I write anything else?

My stories have to have a romantic angle to them – that’s just the way it is.

I live in LA; screenplays are the only form worth my time.

I’m an established playwright; why should I diverge from my successful path?

###

All of the above statements are completely ludicrous, yet many writers continue to limit themselves by embracing such ideas.

Many writers will only stick to one type of writing or one style of writing for various reasons, including:

  1. Achieving success within that style, and wanting to build on that foundation.
  2. Having a passion for a specific style or form of writing, and thus wanting to put forth their contribution to that style or form.
  3. A fear that their readers would be confused by a drastic switch in their approach.

There are countless other reasons, but I believe that writers limit themselves if they put themselves in the ghetto of identifying with only one type or style of writing.

While I have achieved a measure of success through publishing my short fiction and poetry, most of which can be labeled as “alternative literature,” I have also written serious literary fiction, science fiction, screenplays, and partnered with nonprofits to begin writing books on art history and esoteric topics. I would hate to be simply seen as a writer of alternative literature who does not know how to write about anything other than sex, the partying culture, and the trappings of “hipster” life in the 21st century. Sure, some people may see me as such because that’s where I have achieved, at present, the most success; however, I would hate to only write within that style for my entire life.

What I believe makes writing such fun is that there are no limits. When you come up with an idea, you can take it in any direction that you want. It seems so boring to me to never challenge yourself beyond one specific niche. I urge all writers to challenge themselves, and embrace different styles and formats. Your writing will only improve when you step outside of your comfort zone.

In success,
Alfonso