How and by what do you track your submissions? Personally I want to track progress by which piece I sent, what response I received, how many pieces are out right now, how many pieces are finished, and how many are unfinished.
Long ago I created a paper filing system I called “The manuscript stable” which was supposed to show which stories were in development, which were done and which were out on submission by the folder colors and their position on a shelf. It sortof worked. Meh.
Today, I want something that goes on my computer. I have investigated and categorized the trackers into two types, free and paid. So, here goes:
FREE SERVICES THAT INCLUDE SUBMISSION TRACKING
These are the free submission trackers I’ve discovered:
This one is geared toward spec fic writers. You can add markets that aren’t in their database, but there’s plenty in there already: close to 7000, according to the site. You can keep records of when you submitted, what you submitted, how long it’s been out, and if it’s rejected or accepted … and the site logs and displays your responses. If you get an acceptance, you get a shout-out. Logging your subs here, then, might be the quickest and cheapest, but also the most public method.
The Triple Tracking Method — as published in Writers Write: This is a helpful discussion of the submission tracker construction process, in which the writer tells how to make your own tracker on Microsoft Excel.There’s a good discussion of why we track our submissions and what we hope to gain by doing so. A workmanlike approach and one you can adjust to your own needs.
In another similar post from The Write Life, the submission tracker is geared toward the working freelance writer who wants to earn money. “Successful writers have learned how to tweak their spreadsheets to make them more useful and efficient, and to better support their work,” says Alicia de los Reyes, the author. She tells you how you can create a speadsheet on Excel or use one they’ve provided (image above).
Submittable — This one generates itself as you submit to the website’s managed journals which, whether you like it or not, currently account for about 2 out of 3 literary magazines. Unfortunately there is no way to put non-Submittable submissions in it, so although it’s free and automatic, it is only supplemental. I predict, however, that if you’re submitting to lit magazines, you’re going to be referring to this one often.
The Writer’s Database — This one you have to enter all your own information, including in many cases your markets, but once you’ve entered the info, the analysis provided is pretty extensive. Some markets you submit to may have already been added by other writers. It’s simple, it’s free and it also includes some interesting charts such as how many words you’re writing per day. Allows you to group markets by tags, which means you can categorize by market type, etc.
I’m uploading my own Color Coded Submission Tracker as well, which is a little different. In particular, it uses color coding to simplify the spreadsheet so you can quickly see how it’s going for each story. Dark brown, rejection, repeatedly might suggest you take another look at a piece, while another one, with lighter “rejected, personal,” or “no response” squares, suggests that it received a softer landing.
PAID SERVICES THAT INCLUDE SUBMISSION TRACKING
Duotrope is mostly a search engine for markets. You can find quite a few good markets there, including both those which pay and those which don’t. Allows you to track deadlines, and blacklist and whitelist markets.
Perhaps the most interesting Duotrope function is where they track the acceptance/rejection rate of various markets. This could be useful if you feel it helps you make decisions about where to sub.
The submission tracker is certainly effective, adding data such as the amount of time a market takes to respond on average. It is difficult, however, to look at individual pieces, how many times they’ve been out, what the response was, etc. At $5 per month it’s a little pricey.
You can use Trello to track submissions. I looked over the boards, but it looks to me as if it’s more for the person who uses Trello to organize their whole life, in which case, you know who you are … also there is an app you can use on your iphone which looks quite serviceable, costs $7.99, but my phone is an android, so I couldn’t investigate further.