“Milling your submissions into something useful…” That’s the appealing tagline for The (Submission) Grinder. A couple of fiction rejections rank with my most treasured possessions and are among the reasons I still write. Most of them were recycled long ago. Sticking fiction responses into this online mill for the greater good of other story-telling addicts: good plan.
I was already impressed with The Grinder. It’s been my main tool for assessing market response times for a few weeks now. When I discovered how fast they respond to email — and that this well-designed, time-saving website is the work of only two guys — I signed up. Yeah, Diabolical Plots is Anthony Sullivan and David Steffen. I’d pictured a team pulling this off. Perhaps the letter Q is pulling the rest of the weight.
Update: November 2013
More Grinder happiness: the guys have added a “My Market Response List” tab to the front page. As soon as you log in you can click the tab and see recent responses with the number of days it took for the markets you have subs at. Brilliant. I’ve made a lot of use of the recent responses links on individual market listings, and now I’ve got that data with one click.
The Submission Grinder just keeps getting better. They make regular additions to the market list, also available on a front page tab and you can track your favorites to get notifications of when they open and close. They make this whole revision process almost fun.
“You should never have to stop to think about what to do next.” —Leroy Jethro Gibbs, NCIS
I also get a lot of use out of the notes field for each piece I enter in the Grinder. As much as I hope every submission will result in an acceptance, I find that thinking ahead and picking the next couple of places to sub to helps maintain my momentum. So I write my top picks for where each story will go in the notes field. When I get a rejection, there’s the next market already picked and I get that puppy back out. So a big thanks again to David and Anthony for their excellent and thoughtful work on this submission-tracking solution.
I’ve made more than 50 submissions since May 22, mostly repeat subs on 13 stories, with one sale and a few shortlisted. Using the Grinder has reduced the pain quotient big time. So, back to the original report:
For many markets included on The (Submissions) Grinder there are already enough reports to make the stats valuable. The database is particularly strong on speculative fiction markets, including science fiction, fantasy, dark fantasy, horror and cross-genre magazines, eZines, anthologies and book publishers.
You can look up recent reports of response times when there are any. This is a great feature, because market reporting times can vary substantially. Getting to see how submission-response times are running at my favorite markets with one click is more useful to me than the average and spread of response times, although I’m happy to have those, too.
On a visual level, The Grinder is clean, inviting and attractive. Nearly all the market websites and pages I’ve used online are created and maintained by people making little or no money for their work, and I appreciate what they do. The fact that some of the sites are visually sad is what it is.
Anthony Sullivan and David Steffen get major points for creating a well-designed market database and submission-tracking site that’s aesthetically and functionally appealing. They’ve not only avoided the flinch-factor, they’ve created a website that’s enjoyable to visit and use.
The landing page features recent responses and shows me that I’m not the only one getting rejections, and acceptances do happen. This is helpful for my keeping-the-faith nodule.
The New Listings tab shows the most recently added fiction markets at a glance. The search features include a by-title search, and a multi-field search that allows you to narrow down possible markets for a specific work of fiction by genre, manuscript length, topic, style, minimum desired pay scale, market qualifications such as SFWA-approved and more.
Getting Started With The Grinder
The free sign-up gives you password access to your own dashboard where you can track your works and submissions. Passwords are stored in a one-way hash to protect your privacy. You can opt to have your acceptances made public under the name of your choice, or not.
Bear in mind that the system is in beta and you may encounter minor issues. The tiny blips in this super-useful market database and submission-tracker site are so minor that’s it’s no big deal. The couple of times I got an error message I was able to get right back in and finish what I was doing.
The Grinder uses distributed cloud hosting to reduce the risk of downtime and the guys do regular database backups. Some of the websites I’ve worked for could learn a lot about efficiency, style and functionality from Anthony Sullivan and David Steffen. Kudos, guys.
If all of that’s not enough, the dashboard also tracks your sales, so you can take this strange calling to write fiction seriously and track your income like a real professional. That’s my plan, no doubt many of you are way ahead of me. I took an odd detour and spent years as a non-fiction professional. Don’t ask.
As most of you know, the more people report their submission response stats, the more accurate and informative the market database becomes. And I enjoy seeing the congratulations for acceptances on the landing page.
Whether you’re new to submitting your fiction or a seasoned pro, your next acceptance could be coming any day, and using The Grinder might inspire you to submit more, publish more and sell more.
Today’s a good day to live the dream. Go for it!