Yes, I’ve heard the news. We should use a spreadsheet to keep track of our submissions. Lisha Cauthen showed us how to keep track of our submissions using fancy dancy newfangled technology. Pretty spiffy! But me, well, I prefer to keep track of my submissions the old fashioned way—with pencil and paper.
I know, it’s hard to believe!
There actually are a couple of reasons I like going old school for this. The biggest one? There are so many things that have to be done on the computer! Typing up manuscripts, blogging, social media, agent and publisher research… it goes on and on and on! If I can eliminate even one thing that I have to do in front of a screen, I’m doing it.
The other thing is, I like to be able to sit down and look through my submissions in a leisurely fashion. I can flip through pages. I have something tangible to hold on to while everything else about submissions being out is beyond my reach. I can look at every single sub I have out. The subs I’ve done for one manuscript, or all the subs I’ve sent to a particular publisher. My submission book holds all the information I need.
Back when I was starting out I didn’t need much. I didn’t have much to keep track of. But these days I like to have in depth information. My submission book has evolved into three sections:
• A Master List of all submissions that are out
• A Manuscript Page for each manuscript that is out on submission
• A Publisher Page for each publisher I have looked into
Now this may seem like overkill but it is a system I have found to be the most useful.
The Master List is a quick way to see everything I have out in one glance. I list date sent, publisher or agent, company, what sent and by which method, and expected response time. When I get a reply I simply put a thin line through the submission to cross it off the list.
Each Manuscript Page has the title of the manuscript on the top. I write the date submitted, who submitted to (both publisher and editor or agent and agency when applicable), how submitted (esub, snail query, etc.), expected response time, and actual response date. Plus I leave room for notes on response. (Form, personal, etc.)
When you do a lot of research on publishers, you see the beauty of having a page or two for each. On the Publisher Pages I list manuscripts sent, along with all the pertinent information I have listed previously. I also keep notes on things I find in my research. Tidbits on what a certain editor or publisher likes. Notable books that compare with mine. Stuff like that. The thing that has been especially helpful is writing down my manuscripts that might be a future match with someone while I am doing research for submitting a different manuscript-from manuscripts I’m not sending yet to works in progress. I am doing future research as well as working on getting a submission out and tracked. Far out man!
Now, you may have noticed that I write the same information in more than one place, but it really does make it easier later. When you’re only doing a sub or two at a time it really isn’t a big deal. It can actually feel like an accomplishment!
Tracking your manuscripts the old fashioned way really doesn’t have to be a big production, and keeping track of things on paper definitely does not have to be messy! There are a few “rules” that make it easier. Write neatly. Leave yourself enough room for response notes. Use a three-ring binder. That way you can add pages where and when you need to. It’s sort of like creating your own personal Writer’s Market, but with the information tailor made for you.