Monday, July 8, 2013

Submission Tracking

You know how every little once in awhile you get a phone call from someone, pick up the phone, and they ask, "Who is this?" It makes no sense, right? THEY called you. Shouldn't they know who they were calling?

I sort of had that experience with the contest I was chairing. Only I wrote to someone to let them know they hadn't placed in the contest, and I got a response back saying, "Who is this again? I don't remember submitting anything to you? Do you know what my piece was called?"



I had written the name of the organization, as well as the contest, several times in the email, so I was really confused as to why they simply didn't look it up. Plus, this person had paid to be in the contest (there was an entry fee), so there were multiple ways to track. PayPal, for one. The website. Their outgoing emails.

It made me wonder just how many contests this person was entering! I mean, props to them for submitting and submitting and submitting, if that is the case. However, if they're submitting that many pieces, maybe they should be keeping track in some way. Do you really want to write to an editor, for instance, and ask, "Who is this?" Probably not. Of course, I'm no editor, so this didn't impact them professionally, but if they weren't keeping track of paid contest entries, there's a good chance they're not keeping track of other submissions.

For me, I keep an Excel spreadsheet with the date of submission, title of submission piece, who I've submitted it to, their response period (if this is listed), their website, their email, and the editor's name. I then have tabs where I move it if I get a rejection or acceptance. This helps me keep track of those I've submitted to, and insures I won't have a mind spasm and re-submit the same piece to the same place. Given, I'm not submitting so many things that this is likely to happen (in fact, I haven't submitted since the piece that got accepted), so this shouldn't be an issue for me.

I also keep the copy of the piece I sent in within a folder called "Stories Submitted," so I always have the proper version and formatting sitting there to check, if need be. And I file the email in a folder for submissions, so I know what bio and information I sent. Overkill? Maybe. But it came in handy when I needed to notify one publication that another had accepted a story that was a simultaneous submission between the two. I was able to pull up the email and contact the appropriate person. Shew!

I'm wondering just how many people keep track of their submissions, and how they do so. Do you send it and forget it? Do you keep a record of it? What's your process for keeping track of your submissions? Do you include contests in that? Have you ever received an acceptance or rejection from someone you didn't remember submitting to?

May you find your Muse.


  1. I have a similar process to yours re keeping track of what was sent where to whom, etc. The system has evolved somewhat over the years but the basics are the same. and it still works for me. :)

  2. Being organized is key to not look like an idiot.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  3. It's silly not to be organized about it. I keep files like you do, with all the details. I don't like having to scramble and try to find info at a later date.

    My habits come from my work life. I was the one who always could find the info someone wanted. . .For me, it's how I work. So if it's overkill, it's my way and it works for me.

  4. During the very brief period that I was looking for an agent, I did track where I'd sent submissions. Nothing as complex as yours, but I didn't want send to the same agency twice. I'm glad, though, that I don't have to worry about that stuff.

  5. That's funny and really sad.
    I didn't use a spreadsheet, but I did keep track of submissions when I was sending out queries.

  6. I'm sure there are some submissions I've forgotten about. I keep a journal for stories and write dates of the submissions and to who. I haven't submitted in awhile, but am about to start again.

  7. What an idiot. Not you, silly, but the clueless contestant. Writers can be a weird sort. Did the submission suck? I'm guessing it was fairly unorganized.

    I just save all my emails. Of course I have lost whole folders during a crash, so now I google drive and skydrive everything. I'd live in my cloud if I could.

  8. I keep track via a folder with the "final" submissions that is split into accepted and passed over folders as well.

    I also use Duotrope. I use it for more than tracking, but the tracking feature is nice.

  9. In the case of the contestant who replied to you, I'd just presume they were condescending for ego. There will always be a touchy minority in any sizable entry pool.

    I used to track with Duotrope before they began charging. My short submissions have also dropped off since picking up novels, but I still maintain a list in a dedicated .doc file. Not that I'd forget the name of a place I'd submitted to!

  10. There is such a thing as an 'Over Organizer' me! If I had something to submit, I would have a FILE for the File for the File...yep in Triplicate. Now, if I just had something to fill those files and make note to NOT ask Who and What Is This?

    Sue CollectInTexasGal~Today's Post~
    Baby's Pink and Blue...It's A Test of Time

  11. Madeline, glad I'm not the only one, and that it's worked for you. This system is less than a year old for me, but I like it! I'm sure it will evolve for me, as well.

    Shelly, indeed!

    D.G., I work the same way. I like to be organized and have backup. Hopefully that serves me well in the writing world, as well.

    Andrew, true, it's nice that you don't!

    Alex, I had to wait to reply to her. I think I gaped at my screen for awhile.

    Mary, good luck with your upcoming submissions!

    Julie, you know, I never went to see which was her entry after the fact. I mean, I looked up the title on my handy-dandy spreadsheet for the contest, but didn't go review the story again. I'm afraid to.

    Mardra, I've just started using Duotrope. It was exciting to get to close out two submissions on there.

    John, could be! She never replied when I wrote to her with the information. Who knows?

    Sue, ha! You're too organized; you'll never have to ask that question. Hopefully, neither will I.

  12. Yikes, that seems like bad form. I would hope that definitely doesn't happen outside of contests too for the individual, like submissions for publishing?

    I've only submitted two things in the past half year, so I haven't really organized them in any fashion.

    I do really like the idea of an actual submission folder with notations or what/where/when and the piece itself to help identify.

    Jak at The Cryton Chronicles & Dreams in the Shade of Ink

  13. There are free web-based apps that make it really easy to track submissions. You can do simple searches like "Show all my pending submissions," or more complex, useful searches such as "Which magazines tagged "science fiction" haven't seen this story yet?"

    A great example is