Tag Archives: Twitter


Hey, hey you!  Want a copy of NOUMENON?

noumenon line up

Impromptu give away (US only)! Sign up for my newsletter:  and retweet this tweet, then on April 23rd I’ll randomly select two subscribers to receive a signed and embellished copy of NOUMENON.  (Already signed up?  Then the retweet is all you need!)




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Duotrope and Alternatives

By now, if you’re at all involved in the short story community, you’ve heard that Duotrope is going paid.

That’s fantastic.  Nothing wrong with someone who provides a service getting paid for said service.  Everyone’s got mouths to feed and bills to pay, and no one should be expected to provide a service at a loss simply because others would prefer it to be free.

That said, anyone who charges for a service really needs to price it practically.  You’ve got to understand what your business is worth to consumers.   No one’s going to pay $35 for a glass of lemonade or $65 for a loaf of bread.

And on that note, I won’t be paying Duotrope’s exorbitant yearly subscription price of $50.  Why?  Because it’s not worth that to me.  And I’d be hard pressed to believe it’s worth that to anyone else, save in entertainment value.  (I also need to point out that you can subscribe on a monthly basis for $5–but who would really use it only a couple of months a year?)

Duotrope is a wonderful convenience to me.  It takes all the things I have at various places (market lists, submission tracker, response times) and puts them all together in one convenient, user-friendly space.

But that’s just it: it doesn’t give me anything I can’t get elsewhere.  Its entire worth to me is based on two-to-ten minutes worth of time saving per submission.  Course, it probably costs me more than that in the time I spend procrastinating using the site to check response times (which does nothing for my own submissions–I’ll hear when I hear).

The convenience of using Duotrope is not worth $50 of my hard earned money.  I would have to sell one flash piece a year just to cover it as an expense, and since it does not make me money (it does no marketing, it does not put me in touch with editors, it does not get a single story of mine in front of anyone who can buy it.  I have to do all that leg work myself), I can’t really justify spending my entire income from one story on the privilege of using it.

It was absolutely worth the $5 they claimed every user needed to pay a year in order to cover their expenses.  I’d hazard it would even be worth $10 or $15 to me.  I know it’s worth $20 to $30 to other people, as that’s what they’ve donated in the past.  I haven’t met anyone who claims to have donated anywhere near $50, so where that price tag comes from, it’s hard saying.  And the anonymous Duotrope staff have been less than transparent about their financial goals.

I think their misguided pricing is based largely on a belief that those who have donated regularly in the past will be more than happy to subscribe now.  Unless they already had a ton of people donating more than $50, they’re going to lose more by charging more. I think they don’t quite understand how differently people perceive a charitable organization vs. a private business.

When it’s on pure charity, people are willing to pay the way of others as well as themselves: “They need $5 per person? Alright, how about I pay for myself and three others who can’t afford it? Spread the love.”

When it becomes a business, the consumer has to go into business mode as well: “How much am I getting out of this service? Is it worth to me what they’re charging?”

Basically, I think they’re over estimating what their product is actually worth. And I think it will be worth even less now, because they’re driving away the source of their worth, which is the large data pool they draw from

I don’t want to see a site like Duotrope disappear. And I’m complaining about the price because I think they’re shooting themselves in the foot. I think they’ll find their business model not only ineffective, but damaging. I can only hope the staff can change directions quickly enough to avoid disaster. I want them to stick around, because I appreciate what they’ve created and the time I’ve spent using their service.

But, at the same time, I can’t justify telling poor writers to spend $5 a month or $50 a year on a service they don’t need.

So, here are a few alternatives to the services provided by Duotrope, should you be unable or unwilling to subscribe come January:

Market lists:




http://www.speculativeliterature.org/Writing/mktlists.php   (This one is a list of market lists.  I have not explored it yet.)

Submission tracking:



ETA: http://www.spacejock.com/Sonar3.html (Suggested by J. Deery Wray)

Submission response times:



It’s also very easy to create an Excel sheet that tracks your subs and also doubles as a market list.  I also have a separate file that matches editors to their market and the market’s physical or digital address–a service which Duotrope does not provide.

If you are part of a large on line writing community, you could also start tracking your response times as a group.

I’ll be leaving this post up on the front page the whole week–so no Wednesday post.  I feel it’s important.

If you’ve got any other link suggestions, or just want to discuss Duotrope’s decision, feel free to comment!


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Of Profiles and Pitches

I open my email and find I have a new twitter follower. Cool. That’s a pretty rare event for me, seeing as I how I’m sitting at nobody status at the moment and I don’t go on following rampages looking for random hoards to follow me back.

I like to visit followers’ profiles to see if they’re fly-bys or people I’d actually like to network with. So, I go to this guy’s profile and read: “Can a man who throws his dates in a dungeon succeed romantically?”

And the first thing I think is, “Holy crap.” Followed by, “This guy probably thinks that’s a funny way to describe himself and has no idea how creepy it sounds.”

For the record, I know nothing about this individual. He seems nice enough, but his twitter profile gave me the wrong impression. I quickly got over that impression after I, you know, read past the first sentence in his profile, but it got me thinking — there are certain places you want to put things like loglines and summaries, and certain places you do not.

Yes, that is a logline for the humor novel he currently has out. In that context, it is funny. But I had no indication he was a writer until after the creepy first impression.

Profiles are bad places to put loglines, especially if you don’t preface them. When someone goes to an ‘about me’ page or a twitter profile, they expect to learn about the person, not be pitched a product. That expectation can color their impression of whatever they find there.

I was halfway to the block tab before I decided to go back and read the second sentence. I’ve gotten followed by random creepy people before (“Just looking for someone to spend hot, steamy, guilt-free nights with” — er, no thank you. Or ” #&$%ing bitches be hating.  You one of them?” — Take your chauvinism elsewhere), and wasn’t about to trade tweets with a guy who thinks joking about abusing the women he meets is funny.

When we promote our products we want to make sure we’re promoting what we think we’re promoting. We want to be sure that we’re reaching the right audience in the right way.

I might be his target audience.  I love humor novels.  But, if I’d done what I typically do when I get “that vibe” — run to block — I wouldn’t have even realized I’d passed over a writer’s profile.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with his approach, but it did make me do a double take. I’m not saying, “Don’t promote your book this way,” just, “Think about it for a while before you take this approach.” Make sure it’s getting you what you think it’s getting you.

Those of you with loglines that follow a more sinister vein might want to be extra cautious.

And, who knows, maybe his strategy did work. After all, I’m posting about it.

Ever run across a profile that made you do a double take? Tell me about it!


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How Twitter Can Make You Money

Or, alternatively, save you money. 

Since signing up for Twitter about six months ago, I have won three hard-copy books, and been given and/or alerted to over a dozen free e-books.  Total value: approximately $70.

I made seventy dollars just by following people and paying attention.

Now, I would have said saved $70 if I had intended to buy all of those books.  I’d actually intended to buy two of them, which still puts me at well over fifty dollars worth of merchandise I wouldn’t otherwise own.

Yes, a few of those books (e-books) were just free anyway.  But I didn’t have to go browsing for them.  I didn’t have to spend my time (which is quite often worth more than a free e-book to me) trying to find them.  They came to me.  I follow author’s I’m interested in reading (for various reasons).  And, conveniently, when they have books up for free, they tweet about it.  And I get alerted to a great deal without having to put much work into it.  All I have to do is check something I’d check anyways. 

So, what does this say about Twitter?

That it is a marvelous marketing tool.  When I get done reading through my free books there are some new books I will be buying.  Why?  Because I got to sample the author’s writing for free and I know I like it. 

Sure, on Amazon and other online retailers there’s typically a nice chunk of a book available for preview.  But again, I have to search for those books.  And I only get to sample the beginning–I don’t have the option of flipping to a random page like I do in the bookstore.  I have to spend time reading the preview, and then agonizing over whether or not it was really good enough for me to spend money on the rest.
Do I have to think about downloading a free book?  No.

Once I have purchased a book, I feel pressured to like it.  Because, damnit, I spent money.  And I’m frugal.  I’ve still got a poor college student’s spending mentality even though I’m currently comfortable in my finances.  I don’t like to waste money, and I agonize over purchasing anything I can’t qualify as a basic necessity.  And if I don’t like a book or don’t finish it, I’ve wasted my money. 

I don’t feel the same pressure when I read a free book.  Which means the experience is overall more enjoyable.  I’d even say I’m more apt to like a book if it’s free, because I don’t have to suffer during the slow parts wondering, “Will this be worth it?”

And I know I won’t feel guilty if I decided a free book isn’t worth it–my time, that is.  I’m ok with putting it down and moving on.  Not so when I’ve invested money as well as time:  I will often read at least a hundred pages past where I want to stop because I’m so eager for the author (and publisher) to earn the money I’ve given them.  So I invest more time, more willpower into continuing.  And if I get to the end and I still don’t like it…

It sticks with me.  And it’ll be a long while before I let go of my disappointment enough to buy from that author again.

Sad, but true.  It’s the way my mind works.  There are so many books out there for me to read that it’s one way I narrow down the list.  If an author takes my money and then disappoints me, he or she won’t be getting my money again for a good chunk of time.

Now, if it’s free, I don’t feel the pressure.  So I don’t sink in the extra time hoping for a payout.  So even if I don’t like the book, I’m not bitter towards the author when I move on. 

But if it’s free and I like it?  Then my good will abounds.  Hell, even if the next one disappoints the author might still get my money again–because I’ve already gotten a two-for-one.

Now, I do need to put some qualifiers in here.  I always read the books I’ve paid for before I get anywhere near freebies.  Why?  It’s that pressure thing again.  I spent money here, so I need to put my eyes on these pages rather than those

Also, my good will works best with short stories.  A good or even so-so short story can get me to buy a novel.  But an alright novel typically won’t get me to buy another novel, or another short story.  So free shorts work best with me.

Also, if it’s not just so-so, or boring, but bad (and I mean really bad)–I certainly won’t be spending any money there.  Will I peek at other free work from that author?  Perhaps, just to see if it’s as bad as the first thing I read.  But I’ve definitely got a three strikes and you’re out policy on free work.  I’ve got a one strike and you’re out policy on paid for work.

But, the overall point is that Twitter can help authors find readers and readers find authors, all through freebees.  For me it’s a wonderful win-win.

How about you?  As a reader, are you friendly towards free fiction?  Does it get you to spend money in the end?  As an author, do you think freebees are a valuable marketing tool?


P.S. Alas, I did not win Q4 of WotF.  But there’s always next quarter.


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