I mentioned this before, but I think it deserves a more thorough discussion.
At first, I used Duotrope’s Digest as an easy way to find new markets for stories and the odd poem. (Just between us, I also used it for non-fiction. Shhhhh.) This was back in 2006 or so, when you could run a search and get a manageable number of results, and when you clicked the links, they would all take you to websites for actual literary magazines. Huzzah!
After a while, I signed up for the site’s submissions tracker. I still keep a word document as a back-up, but their tracker is far superior, especially now that they’re able to mine so much data from their users. I used to log in only when I had a new submission to report. I would look at all the rows of numbers and think things like, “Ah. Look at that. PANK responds very swiftly. I bet I’ll hear from them before next Tuesday.” Etc. Very calm.
But things took a turn for the obsessive-compulsive when I discovered this, a running list of all the responses reported by Duotrope’s users. Updated in real time. And sortable by date received. Eep!
Now when I log onto Duotrope, I’m more like this: “WEST BRANCH STILL HAS MY STORY AFTER 104 DAYS!! BUT THEY’VE REJECTED SUBMISSIONS THAT ARE ONLY 37 DAYS OUT!!!” Refresh. “35 DAYS!” Refresh. “38 DAYS! THEY ARE DEFINITELY TAKING MY STORY!!! I AM ADDING IT TO MY CV RIGHT NOW!!!!!” Refresh. “Form rejection after 116 days? Ah, crap.”
I have become a master at reading the tea leaves on Duotrope. 98 days at One Story means I’m getting the good form. 16 days at Smokelong means maybe… MAY-beeee… 131 days at Crazyhorse means nothing because they are Crazyslow.
It’s a science. And a sickness.