You should know by now that I have a thing about organization. Especially when it comes to my writing, keeping order is keeping my sanity.
Submissions are a pretty big thing to keep organized. If you haven’t started yet, start right now. If you’ve only got one submission, set up your process anyway. Those suckers will multiply like ferrets if you’re doing your job right. Get ready now, because you need to keep track of a lot.
Who did you send this project to? This is a no brainer. If you sent your manuscript to an agent and they politely pass on it, they are going to be less polite when you lose track and send it to them again. You have wasted your time and theirs.
Now, an often overlooked portion of this step is making a distinction between the agent and the agency. When you submit a manuscript to an agent who is part of an agency, they probably showed it around to their fellow agents who might also want to look at it. So don’t, unless informed otherwise by the submission guidelines, send that same work to a different agent. You also need to keep a list of agents by name. It is absolutely plausible that when you sent your manuscript to agency A and agent 1 read it there, then moves to agency B, they still read your book already.
You will also want to track what sort of reaction you got from agencies and publications. If you have a lot of short stories you’re selling at once, you’ve going to have some cross over. I have a few markets that I often send my work to. When you do that, you are going to see some trends. This magazine likes your work, but this one never gives you a positive response. Maybe it’s time to look at magazine B. Either you need to step up your game, or decide that this isn’t the market that’s going to appreciate your voice.
If all this isn’t enough to keep track of, I’ve got one more important piece of data for you to track. How many submissions did you send out in a month? When I’ve got a lot of active projects, I love to play the beat my own high score. Remember, when you’re a writer, you are your biggest competition. Don’t worry about what any other writer is doing. Be a better writer than you were last month. So, try to send out more work this month than you did last month.
Now that we know what we’re tracking, we have to have a system to track it. Now, this is something that I have struggled with over the years. I started out tracking agents on index cards. That was concise, but messy. Then I tried to incorporate cross indexing, and it was such a mess.
Then, when I tried and failed to sell my murder mystery, I wrote down every agent I sent it to by the month. At the same time I had this complicated, color coded chart of short fiction, markets and reactions. It was a huge ball of highlighter
So now, I am working in Open Office to create a super simple list. I love this because it is searchable. I can look up an agents name with a simple control F. I list the title of the project, then under that the market, date I sent it, date I got an answer and what that answer was. It is taking a lot for me to do this, because I am really addicted to paper. But it is so much easier, that I’ll just have to get over it.
Whatever style you like now, don’t be scared to move it around and change it up. The important part with this is organizing data. You need to see the patterns this data will make to make better decisions about your writing business.
How do you organize your submissions? Are you happy with it, or do you think it could be better?