I have a few Excel files that really help me to keep my writing organized. My submissions log is probably the most helpful, so I thought I would talk about that one today. Imagine how embarrassing it would be to send the same story to the same editor over and over. Keeping a submissions log helps to keep everything straight and avoid mixups.
My Submissions Log has the following categories running across the top of the page:
Category (Prose or Poetry)
Type (Short Story, Novel, Flash Fiction, Free Verse, Sonnet, etc)
Genre (Romance, Horror, Mainstream, Memoir, etc)
Sent to (Name of publication or contest)
For (Publication or Contest)
Postage (cost of stamps or electronic)
Fee (if any, for contest entry or reading fee)
Outcome (Rejected, Contest placement, Accepted for Publication)
Notified (the date you get the results)
Note (When you expect to hear results, Editor’s comments, etc)
When something is rejected or loses a contest, I highlight the row it’s in and change the font color to a light gray. When something is accepted for publication, the font goes red and the title goes bold. At a glance, I can see what I’ve submitted to whom, when, and the outcome.
Not only do I know where my manuscripts are, I can track any particular work’s progress over time. You can click ‘data’ on the toolbar, select sort, and rearrange the information. You can alphabetize the data by accending dates, or choose to arrange everything by the date you submitted it. Another click could show you a list of everything marked ‘accepted’.
Keeping up with the amount you spend on fees and postage is a good idea, since you may one day need it for your taxes. The Editor slot will help you remember which editors really liked your work, or really hated it; a few years from now, the guy who loved your short story might be working for a different magazine or publishing house, so it would be to your benefit to keep up with his name.
A submissions log can have any categories you want, I’m just showing mine as an example. You can whip one up in a matter of minutes and it’s a wonderful tool for keeping your records organized.