The Grinder

Some of you (if not all of you)  have at one point or another submitted a story to a magazine. Those more experienced may have suggested to you a site called Duotrope. So was I. I’m not a member there, though it’s easy to see how well-built the site is. It’s been a while now since Duotrope started charging money for its service. I’m here to let you know of an alternative submission tracker/magazine database.

I use a submission tracker called the “The Grinder” (you can find it here) . The site is still in beta and it has been on beta since I first used it, almost two years ago. It may look very simple,  if you are used to Duotrope, but it delivers exactly what it advertises. Did I mention it’s free? The owners have been working to maintain it and keep it up to date with as many fiction literary magazines or at least as many as users submit to them. It’s not an easy task, considering the amount of literary magazines out there. Not to mention the ones that come and go. Currently,  the Grinder lists magazines for fiction only, but they are trying to start listing magazines for non-fiction and poetry. It’s still unclear when they will have made such listings available. When I talked to them about it, they said they were working on it. Oh,  yes,  did I mention their support is very helpful? I often suggest magazines to them, and they get back to me within the day with a comment, a redirect (if they had already listed said magazine), or a simple thanks.

How does it work? Simple. Register with a valid email address and start exploring for a suitable magazine. There are two ways to search for a suitable home for your story.
You can either search directly by name (if you know the name of the magazine you’re interested in) or you can make an advanced search. For the latter,  you can set the parameters according to what kind of magazine you’re trying to find (genre, style, type of story, length in thousands of words,  response time, market qualifications, etc). You can also exclude certain magazines,  which is very helpful if one of your stories is already under consideration by a magazine which refuses to read more than one story per writer at any time. Once you click on search, you will get a list of magazines that matches your criteria. Click on the listing you like or think it’s suitable for you and you’ll be taken to a more detailed view. There you will find information about the payment the magazine offers (though that is something you may or may not have set as a parameter for your search),  about the minimum and maximum response time, the percentage of acceptance said magazine has, and a brief note taken directly from each magazine about what they want to read. At the lower half of the page,  a chart will display the amount of acceptances/rejections vs time (in days). The red bars show rejections, their height represents their amount, whereas the green bars indicate acceptances. If you submit something to said magazine, you will see it as a purple dot on the chart, but only after you have listed your submission to the Grinder. Which means you can track your submissions with it. There are links to the magazine’s page, as well as their submission guidelines.

Once you submit a piece to a magazine, make sure to click on Log Submission. If you have already added a story, you can choose it from the drop down menu (“Please select a piece”). If not, you can enter it then (title,  word count etc). That way the statistical information about the magazine will be more accurate for the rest of us 🙂

At the top of every page in the Grinder to the right, there’s a link that reads My Dashboard. There you can track your submissions, your profile, and your stories. Just click on Manage Pieces, then Add Piece, and you will be asked to enter some information about the story (title, word count, etc). Click Add Piece,  and that’s it.

Obviously I haven’t gone through every available option at the Grinder. I will probably get back on this at a later point with more information and perhaps some images. Perhaps I could contact the moderators and they can provide me with more information about it. I do hope it helps you with your submissions, especially if you’re looking for an alternative to Duotrope (and a free one). If you know any other similar sites, please let me know. I’m thinking of starting a separate page here with resources for writers, and the more submissions trackers or any other kind of resources and tools we have in one place, the better it will be for the readers.

The importance of literary magazines

Ten or so days ago, I submitted a sci-fi cyberpunk short story (damn, that phrase has a lot of S sounds in it) to a professional magazine named Sci Phi Journal. I’ll be honest with you, I really like this story. I like all my stories, they’re like my babies, but this one had something that really clicked with me. Perhaps because of the philosophical implications that most dystopian/post apocalyptic stories have on me. For the record (and this is the hook of the story), it’s the story of a small time crook, who tries to survive in any way possible, in a world where time is the only available commodity and everyone lives to work. Basically, each person is implanted with a timer that shows how much time they have left. Once it goes to zero…

Anyway, at the bottom of said magazine’s submission guidelines, the publisher requests potential contributors to talk about the magazine. The reason for that is there’s no way for the magazine to continue exist and pay professional rates, unless people know the magazine and buy it. And that’s true for every magazine. So, it got me thinking.

Now, there are thousands of magazines out there, most of them short-lived. Which is sad. In fact, one of the magazines I got published is now permanently closed (although in their guidelines they say they are on a hiatus). Which saddened me even more. I couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty in some way. Maybe if I had advertised my work more, maybe if I had done this, if I had done the other, and so on. Bottomline, it’s just sad. I understand it’s how the market works, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

So, I was thinking, what would happen if all magazines were to go bust. In a few words as possible, there would be no more places for publication for us aspiring authors. That in turn means, that fewer people would have the chance to perfect their craft, which in turn could either lead to fewer people going after their dream, or that the big traditional book publishers will end up with a slush pile of lower quality. And that will lead to either fewer published books or of poorer quality (assuming they lower their standards to continue publishing a certain book number per year). For some of us (and I include myself in this category), these publishing credits may be the only ones we’ll ever get to see. Quite frankly, I like seeing the byline with my name, don’t you? It’s not a matter of vanity or cockiness. It’s a reward for our efforts on its own, even if we submit our work to a non paying market.

So, I believe it’s important to support magazines (the small ones more than the bigger ones), and through that, the aspiring authors.