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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 queries.

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 year.

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 excellent site.

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- http://www.prestigiouswritingmagazine.com

($20 on @) C: Miss Beulah Smythe 2 wks RT, MS Word attach

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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