Submission Tracking and Why You Should Use It

You know how it feels.  You write something, you edit it, you polish it, and finally – FINALLY – it feels like you can let it go, let it out into the world to find its way.

Its horrible, dangerous way, filled with literary agents and editors and critics and…

But I get ahead of myself.

We’re writers.  We’re not necessarily the most organized people on the face of the Earth, but here’s the deal.  If this is something you want to do, if you want to see your name in print and maybe even get paid to put it there, you need to keep track of your submissions.

But Kit, you say, I’ve only got one story out, and I’m only sending it out to three people at a time.  Surely I can keep track of that.

Maybe.  But how do you feel when you’re 25 submissions in and looking for new agents to query?  Have you queried that person before?  What was their response?  Have you queried someone from that same agency before?

This is where tracking comes in handy.  At this moment in time I have one novel, two short stories, and a travel memoir in circulation at various places in the publishing world.  I can tell you where each of those are currently, where they have been, and where I will send them next if the current parties aren’t interested.  Not only does this keep me on top of things, but it gives me a pleasant little tickle of accomplishment as well.  (I admit that may just be because, as an engineer, I like things to be orderly – but I’m betting it works for you too.)

I keep my novel submissions in Excel spreadsheets.  Each line has an agent’s name, their agency and contact information, submission guidelines, any notes I have (such as specialized wants from their blogs), the date I submitted my query to them, the date of their response, and what it was.  (Some also have Partial submission dates and responses, and so forth, according to circumstances.)

But if you’d prefer a more interactive form of tracking, I suggest you use QueryTracker.  (You should be using this website anyway, submission tracking or not, because it’s a wealth of information.)  QueryTracker allows you to see which agents are good fits, talk to other people who have queried them, and determine how long a typical response wait time is, as well as other valuable tools and information.

For short stories, poetry, and things of that general length, I recommend Duotrope.  Duotrope tracks magazines/ezines and anthologies as well as giving you statistics on the percentage of submissions that are rejections/acceptances.  And how do they get said statistics?  By lovely people using their Submission Tracker feature, which is, in itself, very nice.  I use it for all my short stories.  With the Submission Tracker you can note which story you sent where and when, and then there’s a variety of responses you can put in when you receive a reply.  Those responses, in turn, show up as the statistics on a market’s page.

What about you, Squiders?  Any other tracking websites to recommend?  How do you track your submissions?

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Awesome. I thought I was alone in this. Duotrope tracks my short stories. Agent Query follows my novel. In addition, I’ve got an Excel doc with a page tracking the shorts, a page of 70 or so agent possibilities with all their info, and a third page tracking the actual novel submissions to those agents. Every query or submission is tracked in several places before it’s all over.

    Then there’s the paranoid saving of all docs on my laptop, then on the home shared drive, and finally in Dropbox. Sometimes I think I do all that so I can feel proactive, since once you hit send, there’s nothing to do but be nauseous and wait. Thanks for reminding me it’s necessary and not just busy work.
    — Rachel

    Reply

    • I do the paranoid thing too – on both my computers, on the shared drive, in my email, on Google Docs…

      I’ve had several people recommend Dropbox but I have not gotten around to looking into it. Do you like it?

      Reply

  2. Love it. Since I’m only using it for documents, I don’t need crazy amounts of space, so it’s free. I can access all my work from anywhere that way, even if I don’t have my thumb drive with me. (Did I forget to mention the thumb drive that’s usually in my purse? Heh.)

    Reply

  3. Posted by Christopher on 2011/07/20 at 3:49 PM

    Okay, I’m bookmarking this for…. Well, for that day I actually work up the nerve to submit something!

    Thanks!

    Reply

  4. Another feature-rich online submission tracker is the Writer’s Database:
    http://www.writersDB.com

    Reply

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