3/14/08: My submission tracking process

Word count: 128392 | Since last entry: -24

The -24 words above is hilarious. I have been writing very head-down this week and have chopped off the entire last half chapter, replacing it with a new chapter-and-a-half. And this just HAPPENS to almost exactly equal the word count the last time I blogged. In point of fact I’ve removed almost 5000 words and written the same number of entirely new words. I hope to have a new complete draft ready to send to my beta readers today or tomorrow.

In the last week I also saw the excellent touring production of Twelve Angry Men, with Richard Thomas as Juror Eight, and have done a bit of decluttering. I’ve also been mildly sick. Not too surprising given the number of sick people at Potlatch.

The main reason I’m blogging right now is that I posted the following as a comment in kmckiernan‘s blog, and I thought it might be helpful to others.

For tracking story submissions I use an Excel spreadsheet with a separate sheet for each story. The name of each sheet is the story’s filename (titles change, but I keep the same base filename for all versions) and has the following columns:

  • Date Out
  • Sent To
  • Date Back
  • Days Out
  • Response
  • Comments

Each row represents a submission (well, technically a state change, because I also have rows for Wrote, Critiqued, and Edited for each story). The Days Out is automatically calculated from the Date Out and Date Back (or, if Date Back is blank, the current date). The Response field has the following values:

  • ? – Awaiting Response
  • R – Rejected
  • D – Withdrawn
  • X – Other Non-Sale (e.g. market closed)
  • W – Rewrite Requested
  • A – Accepted
  • P – Published
  • T – Trunked

I also have a Summary sheet with a macro that pulls together all of the rows in every sheet into a single sheet (adding the name of the sheet, which is the story title, as an additional column at the beginning). I use AutoFilter on this sheet to display only those rows where the status is Awaiting Response, and that’s my summary of stories out and how long they’ve been wherever they are.

One important thing about my spreadsheet is that each sheet includes not only past submissions but future ones. The first few rows of each sheet have Wrote, Critiqued, and Edited in the Sent To field (with start and end dates and no Response value). The remaining rows are all markets, in the order in which I intend to send this story. I make up this list as soon as the story is finished. When I send the story out, I fill in the Date Out field. I use the Days Out field in my Summary sheet to see how long it’s been out and to prompt me to query.

When I get a response, I fill in the Date Back and Response fields, and if the response is a rejection I just look down one row to see where I’m going to send it next. (If I already have a story at the next market, I move the next open market up a row and send it there instead.) This helps me to keep stories in submission. I rarely have a story sit around for more than a day or two. If the response is an acceptance, I remove the remaining markets and replace them with rows for Contract, Check, Galleys, and Publication for tracking the story through production.

Here’s an actual example:

 Date Out Sent To Date Back Days Resp Comments 16-May-06 [wrote] 26-Jun-06 41 22-Jul-06 [crit group] 05-Aug-06 14 16-Aug-06 [revised] 17-Aug-06 1 18-Aug-06 F&SF 28-Sep-06 41 R "Many thanks for sending [this] my way, but I'm going to pass on this one. As it happens, I just bought a post-Katrina New Orleans ghost story." 28-Sep-06 Asimov's 16-Jan-07 110 R "The story is quite sweet, but I'm afraid it doesn't quite work for me." 16-Jan-07 Strange Horizons 27-Mar-07 70 R "This has some moving and evocative moments, but the whole thing with the ghosts feels too straightforward to me." 31-Mar-07 Realms of Fantasy 26-Sep-07 179 R Queried after 6 months and got this back: "I emailed Shawna about this one but never heard back. I'm fairly certain she passed on this one." 07-Oct-07 Glimmer Train 14-Dec-07 68 R Marked as "Complete" (i.e. rejected) on their online status form 14-Dec-07 Weird Tales 06-Jan-08 23 R "I'm not convinced it all worked for me, particularly the ending." 06-Jan-08 Brutarian 68 ? 1/16/140 Interzone Aeon Lady Churchill's Black Gate Talebones 

The story is currently at Brutarian and has been for 68 days. The notation “1/16/140” is the minimum, average, and maximum response times for that market posted at the Black Hole market list.

The Comments field in the actual spreadsheet includes the entire response (usually I can just paste this in from the rejection email); I’ve included only a representative snippet above.

Comments are closed.