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The Submissions Grinder makes market and submissions tracking no grind at all

That purple dot is my short story submission nearing the 100-day mark. That first red line on the left is at about 20 days. The two green lines are two pieces accepted. The market will remain nameless to protect the very busy editors.
That purple dot is my short story submission nearing the 100-day mark. That first red line on the left is at about 20 days. The two green lines are two pieces accepted. The market will remain nameless to protect the very busy editors.
David Steffen / The Submissions Grinder

As a short story writer hoping to see your fiction published in magazines and online journals, you have a lot of details to juggle. Which stories you're working on, which are ready for publication, which markets you've already sent them to (so you don't mistakenly send them to the same place twice), which are currently out in the slush (so you don't accidentally commit simultaneous submission), which are under contract but still waiting on payment, which markets have closed or reopened or raised their pay-rates... That's a lot of data to keep track of.

For your market-and-submission-tracking needs, David Steffen and Anthony Sullivan of Diabolical Plots bring you The Submissions Grinder.

The Submissions Grinder was created to fill the absence left when Duotrope, a previously existing tracker with similar features, changed its model from "free-but-please-donate" to "subscription only." It does many things that Duotrope did, and a little more besides.

Briefly, it maintains a market list that's searchable by many key factors, such as genre, word length, pay rate, and reprint-friendliness; it enables you to track your submissions to these markets; and it aggregates data about these markets such as average response time and rate of acceptance.

That last is a key reason why Steffen and Sullivan created the Grinder. One big concern, which a number of other writers shared, was that Duotrope's new pay-wall would result in fewer authors using the system and fewer submission reports being made. Data aggregation is useful in direct proportion to how much data you've got aggregated. A statistical picture is only as accurate as the amount of data it's drawn from. Which is to say, a 50 percent acceptance rate at a market isn't very interesting if only two submissions to that market have been reported. So if a significant number of authors decided Duotrope's features weren't worth the subscription cost, its market reports would become less useful.

So the masterminds behind Diabolical Plots put the Submissions Grinder into motion... not just because the writing world needs a free submissions tracker, but also to encourage a more comprehensive submissions data picture. It's a really useful picture to have! It's worth knowing, for instance, if those six months of silence on your submission represent a normal wait time or perhaps your cue to gently nudge the editor. And since the Grinder's creators are themselves writers, this not an entirely selfless venture. In Steffen's own words,

[R]eally, most of all, when it comes right down to it, it's a very long con because I WANT YOUR DATA FOR MY OWN REJECTOMANCY. So instead of paying someone else $50 a year to get that data, I spend absurdly large amounts of time keeping the site going.

Hey, I never said it was a smart con, just a long con.

"Absurdly large amounts of time" is about right. Since creating the Grinder, the duo have been constantly upgrading it with those features they and their correspondents have had on their wish list since the Duotrope days. Some of those include...

  • A bar graph that plots your current pending submission against a forest of others' response times, distinguishing rejections from acceptances (and making rejectomancy absurdly tempting).

  • On the home page, the "My Market Response List" tab, showing recent responses from markets where you have submissions pending.

  • Upon reporting a rejection, a kindly link which offers to run an automatic search for other markets that might be right for your story, excluding places it's already been.

  • The ability to search markets by whether a sale there counts toward SFWA membership.

  • The ability to search for markets that have published nominees and/or winners of the Hugo and Nebula awards.

And for those who have been using Duotrope forever and want to transfer their submissions history to the Grinder, there's an easy way to do just that. Using the "Import your Duotrope Data" link on your dashboard, simply upload the .csv file that you exported from your Duotrope account.

This is at best a very incomplete and rambling review of the Grinder, with a focus on what features have been most useful to your Examiner. You are hereby encouraged to check it out for yourself. Create an account and have fun exploring the site. You have nothing to lose but your submissions tracking headaches.