Ever since Sylvia Spruck Wrigley announced the project she’s spearheading to create an advanced submission tracking web site, the most common question I’ve seen was: “If I’m not willing to pay for Duotrope service, why should I give money to this?”
So I asked Sylvia to explain the premium Submitomancy features in some more detail. Also, it’s very important to note that all basic functions of the site will be available for everyone to use for free.
Sylvia’s post, below:
The core of the Submitomancy service will be free. This allows writers to record their manuscripts and track their submissions. But the really fun stuff, in my opinion, is in the pay-for service.
Here’s an example of the process that a subscriber to the pay-for service might follow. This is all optional, of course! Subscribers will obviously choose the options that they find most useful and although I am focused on short stories for this example, we’ll be supporting poetry as well. Here’s my own personal vision of what I would do having completed a new story.
First I enter my manuscript details. The manuscript database is part of the core service but as a subscriber, I’ll get a secondary page of data that I can track (I’ll be refining down the details of this with the early access users). I’ll also have the option to share the title of my latest masterpiece with my friends. In the future, I might be able to submit it directly to my personal critique partners (who are of course, also using the site and loving it) but for now, let’s assume my story is shiny and perfect.
For a free search, I would get a basic list of markets that I can then read through to make a decision.
But as a subscriber, I get power searches, which have a lot more granularity. My preferences are saved as a part of my profile. For example, a user might set his default to show pro- and semi-pro markets who have sent personal responses in the past, sorted by acceptance rates. My personal default might only show me SFWA qualifying markets, unless there are fewer than three matches, in which case I want to see all matching pro-markets. The point is that, once I’ve set this up, I’ll see the key markets for my manuscript with a single press, with the ability to expand the possibilities at search time. Markets that I have marked as favorites will be highlighted.
Once I have my list, I can re-sort on the fly and click through to look at a market profile.
Everyone can see general market information along with the average response time and average acceptance rate. As a subscriber, I’ll get extra information, including the recent responses and the average response rate for that market over the past 6 weeks. I’ll get a break-down of the acceptance rate with, if we can get the data, percentages by author gender and story word count. This personalised market listing will also show my history with that market: my submissions, response times and type of response. This means if I am an “outlier”, I have my past data on the page for reference. If the market has sent me personal comments in the past and I entered those comments into the system, they will show up for me here.
As a subscriber, I will also see a button on the market page to generate a cover letter. If I press this button, the system takes four pieces of information:
* My manuscript details,
* My most recent three sales (which I can override with my three favorite sales),
* The market details,
* The market guidelines (if cover letters are mentioned).
With this information, the system will create a cover letter for me to use. I can copy the text (and edit it if I like, for example if I am on a first-name basis with the editor) and then paste it into my submission, whether it’s postal, form-based or an email.
Once I’ve done the submission, I can send an update to my friends so that they can cheer me on. Now the waiting begins.
Quite honestly, I spend too much time watching market pages so an important aspect of the pay-for service for me is the notification service. This is a process which watches my submissions for me and maps them against the recent responses. When specific conditions are met, I’ll receive a private message which could also be sent to my email or Twitter account to alert me.
An obvious alert is when a market responds to a manuscript that has been out for the same number of days as my story has been with them. That function alone will seriously help my pointless refreshing problem. But there will be a number of options which I plan to refine with the early access users.
Some examples: I might notice a market has been silent for a month and ask for a notification to show me when a response has been reported. I can see Analog recent responses are a lot longer than they have been traditionally and sign up for an alert when their response rate drops below 60 days. And for every submission, I’d like to be notified if a response is past due so I can consider querying. That query letter can be generated with the manuscript title and date of submission, along with the correct procedure for querying at that market.
Once I get the acceptance (this is my fantasy system, so of course every response is an acceptance), I enter it into my personal database with the pay rate, the exclusivity period and any personal comments. I can update it when I receive the contract, when I receive payment and when the story has been published.
Now I can set up a new notification to alert me when the exclusivity period is finished. I will have a search available to show me reprint markets. This might get a bit complicated: there are so many different rights and contracts vary, so I suspect that for every story, the writer will have to go through the markets and see what works. Eventually, I’d like to be able to search for audio publications and foreign language markets, if I still have those rights available. Certainly, I’d love to be prompted to offer my story to a wider market.
That’s my dream. I can’t guarantee that every aspect of that process will be available at launch but I hope that most of it will be in place. Especially that 100% acceptance rate on my account.
The notifications sound like a great feature. I originally considered that the free service would be plenty for me, but now I’m rethinking!
As a writer, this sounds pretty good. I bought a premium membership just to see.
And as a slush reader, I like the cover letter option. So many people don’t seem to know how to write one, even with all the information out there. This sounds like a fab feature.