Writing is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. For most writers, once you have the idea in your head, your muse takes over and you are off writing. After you finish you edit and polish until you are ready to send it out to editors. If you only submit a few manuscripts a year, your memory is probably enough to keep track of them. If you are a prolific writer, you will need a little more help.
A submission tracker is a great way to keep a record of each submission you have sent out, what ones were accepted or rejected and what you were paid by for your story when it is published.
Before creating one you will need to think about how you want to keep track of your submissions. Are you a paper and pencil kind of person, or do you prefer to be computerized? Do not set up a tracker you will not use.
Paper submission tracker
Some writers prefer to use paper when writing and keeping track of their submissions. While they have to use a computer to type up and print their stories; their creative juices flow through pencil to paper. If you are one of these writers, you need to decide what kind of book you are going to use to keep track of your submissions. There are many different kinds of blank books you can use: loose-ring binders, spiral notebooks, bound books or file folders with loose sheets of paper.
Once you have your book you will need to start organizing it. The easiest method is to go alphabetically by titles, with each story or poem on one page. The best book for this is a loose ring binder, but you can use any book if you just remember to leave blank pages between the submissions to allow for new pieces.
At the top of each page, write your story or poem's title. Then divide the page in half. Divide the left side of the page into four equal columns. The right side of the page does not get split.
Next title these columns, left to right, magazine or publication, editor, date sent, reply received and comments. When you send your story out, fill in the first three columns, plus write the magazine's reading time in the comment column, so you will know when you should follow-up on your submission. When your story comes back, fill in the last two. You should always include the date you received the manuscript back and any relevant comments from the editor in the comments column. That is why it is the largest column, so you can keep track of what an editor says about your work.
This book is something you should check regularly. If you send out a lot of work, you might consider checking it weekly, depending on how many submissions you have out there and the read time for the magazines.
You should also mark when an editor is slow in responding in your comments column. If your requests for status go unheeded, mark that down. If they take twice as long as they say they will, write it down. Likewise, if a submission is returned faster than expected, write it down. Use these comments to decide if and when you will send your next piece to them.
You can have one submission book for all your writings, or have one for each kind of work you do. It is really up to you.
If you prefer to work off the computer, you can set up your submission tracker using a spreadsheet program. Create the columns like for a paper one. Remember to save it using an easy to find file name.
There are several advantages to using a computer to track your manuscripts. One is you are not hampered by the size of the page when it comes to how much information you can put about your submission. The other is you can sort your submissions easier than with a paper one, even changing what you sort by. But in the end it still depends on what you are comfortable using.
Writing is what writer's do best. Keeping track of what they have written and where should not be a lot of work. It just takes a little work and organization and you will be tracking your submissions like a professional.
Dawn Arkin is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Poetry . Her portfolio can be found at http://www.Writing.Com/authors/darkin so stop by and read for a while.