Readers of this blog may not be familiar with Duotrope, the online catalog of thousands of markets for fiction and non-fiction of all sizes and sorts. It has a great search function for people who know, say, that they want to sell a short story to a market that takes science fiction and pays a particular rate. The site is free, even though it is incredibly valuable.
Perhaps the best thing Duotrope does, though, is accumulate statistics on its users' submissions. It allows users to record when pieces are submitted to a market, and when and what response the market sends later. Then it displays these statistics. For instance:
When I consider submitting to a market I know how long the process will take and how likely I am to get published. This is very useful information. And, in some sense, the numbers don't matter, because Duotrope is really a tool for hope. Without it I would be sending stories blind, with no clear idea of how long I should expect to hear back. I'd rack up rejection after rejection without a sense that publication was even possible through the slush pile. But, with Duotrope, even if I know publication of one of my stories at a given market is extremely unlikely, at least I know that someone, sometime, got published following the same instructions I am.