Friday, February 26, 2010

WRT: Submissions - Keeping and Staying on Track

Probably one of the most tedious (if not frustrating) aspects of the writing-for-publication process is keeping track of submissions. A necessary evil, it still manages to drive me batty. Every house, editor, and agent wants something different: SASE/no SASE, first 10 pages (no, first 20 or 50), snail versus email versus online form sub, YA but not MG, MG but not mystery... and on and on.

Plus, we're seeing even more uncertainty in the market - who's where when, who's going where, who's no longer open.


So, what's the easiest way to store and maintain all that information in a way that ensures you have the most up-to-date details? Do you use an online website such as QueryTracker? A dedicated software package? An analogue system (hardcopies of letters, file cards, etc)? Regardless of what you use, it's absolutely essential that you keep track of those subs, if even to avoid those embarrassing breaches of etiquette. Mostly, it's just good business practice.

For me, what I've found is a spreadsheet (MS Excel) works best. I like knowing that I have control over the information. And while that means doing the legwork myself, it also means I can customize it however I want.

My spreadsheet looks something like this (click on image to get a Hi Res shot):

I like Excel because you can keep multiple levels of information through hyperlinks, comments, and embedded text. You can freeze panes so that headers are always in view. Colors provide cues as to what's out, what's been rejected, where I want to send, who's closed, etc. I also use shorthand notations and other tricks to minimize text while maximizing information. For example, I use ISO standards for dates (YYMMDD) that allow me to search and sort.

It took me a lot of time to set up, and it's a lot of work to maintain the information. But, like I said, it allows me to control the information. And that's really what's important, isn't it?

I'm curious. How do you keep track of all this information?

1 comment:

  1. I've found that is very helpful.