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Super Submission Tracking System
by Shaunna Privratsky
When you first put pen to paper or turn on the
computer, the utter joy and abandon of expressing your thoughts and feelings
supersedes worries about invoicing, payment on acceptance versus publication or
editorial lead-time. However, once you submit your manuscripts you will need to
keep track of when and where you send each one, how long they have had it and
several more details.
The more efficient your record keeping, the more
time you will have for inspiration, leading to more opportunities for
publication and profit.
When I first started freelancing I didn't own a
computer. I devised a simple but effective system that I still use today. I
easily track assignments, deadlines, publish and payment dates and
For each article, story or essay I write, I put
the title and word count at the top of a sheet of paper. Then I list the first
place I send it, with the date and all contact information. I also note special
guidelines, expected response times, and payment. I get this information from
researching the market and the guidelines.
I also record the submission in a master
notebook, arranged by date. This is a superior way to tell at a glance how long
my work has been under consideration and if a follow-up e-mail check is needed.
My file sheets are then placed in folders, one
each for articles, writing articles, essays and poems and fiction stories. Your
system may include other genres or be divided onto different categories. The
beauty of my system is in its simplicity and versatility. You can follow this
system whether you write one piece a month or several a day.
Another tool I use is a calendar with assigned
articles and deadlines in the appropriate dates. As you become a successful
freelancer, you will most likely work further and further ahead. I already have
several pieces scheduled for 2004 and am working on a dozen queries for next
A calendar keeps you on your toes, to meet or
exceed deadlines. It also tracks your publication and payment information. If
the expected payment date has passed, send a polite note reminding the editor
that you haven't been paid. Nine times out of ten it has just slipped his mind
or is due to technical difficulties.
If you still don't receive payment, don't give
up. You may think, 'It was only a few dollars, anyways.' Don't write for free!
If your work was accepted for payment, no matter how small, stick to the
agreement. Send an invoice and/or let professionals get involved. Angela
Adair-Hoy at Writer's Weekly has a vigilant staff working to protect writer's
rights. She has a new automated system to track deadbeat markets at her
I also use my STS to record rejections, as
unpleasant as that may sound. If a story gathers more than a few, it signals a
need for re-examination and revision. I place a rejected piece in my "Market
open again-send more" file.
Many editors will steer you in the direction
they are seeking, or give you an idea. You can establish a relationship through
rejections by responding to constructive criticism or encouragement. Remember
that the editor wants to accept your work and is not rejecting you.
Does this STS sound simple? Here is an example
of how this system works:
"Mystical Muse" Word count: 712
1. April 17th-
($20 on @) C: Miss Beulah Smythe 2 wks RT, MS
Let's decipher this entry. $20 on @ means on
acceptance, on pub would mean payment on publication. C: means contact person.
By underlining Miss, I know that the guidelines made a special point of the
salutation. If you are unsure, Mr. or Ms. is safest. 2 wks RT means I can expect
a reply within two weeks. MS Word attach means that the accepted form of
submission is by attaching an MS Word document to an e-mail message. Some
editors may want postal submissions only, or another form of e-mail. Always
check the guidelines.
My super submission tracking system is easy and
inexpensive. All you need is a master notebook, a few folders, paper and a
calendar. Anyone can be organized for less than $5. All it takes is a bit of
filing adapted to your style of writing and a clear, consistent plan. Take
charge of the business side of writing and you'll find extra time for what you
do best: writing.
© Copyright 2004, Shaunna Privratsky
Shaunna Privratsky writes fulltime from North Dakota, in between shoveling snow. Please visit The Writer Within at http://shaunna67.tripod.com. We are looking for new writers and we are a paying market.
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