Tips for Tracking Your Submissions

Tuesday, February 18, 2020
I reached my 50th short story submission over this past month. I'm trying not to focus on the fact that the majority of these submissions are rejections. That fact aside it's been absolutely essential for me to keep track of where I've sent my stories, especially because not all stories are submitted via Submittable.

First, let's go over a couple of reasons why you need to keep track:

1) It helps to know where you've sent a story.

Once my writing ego has calmed down a bit, I like to look back at where I've sent my stories. Recently, I did this and I immediately realized why this literary magazine rejected my writing. I read over one of their issues and I realized none of the pieces matched the type of stories I told. As I rounded the bend at 50 submissions, I have realized that the often told advice of "read the literary magazines you are submitting to" is extremely essential.

2) It helps to keep track of how many places have your writing.
If you are submitting to more than one place, it's really helpful to keep track of where you've submitted your story. The majority of literary magazines I send to will tell me that it's fine to submit the story multiple places, but make sure to tell them if the story gets published elsewhere. The only way I'd be able to do that is by keeping track of where I've sent the pieces.

I'm sure there are many more reasons as to why you should, but those are my top two reasons to keep track. So, let's talk about what exactly you should be noting down. For me, I have a submissions spreadsheet (probably one of the few ways I've ever used Excel outside of work). And I don't know how everyone else keeps track, but here is what I include in mine:

The Date Submitted
The Title of the Story
The Name of the Literary Magazine or Contest
When I Can Expect Results

Aside from that, a few other things you may consider adding:

The actual website of where you've submitted (Funny thing is, I've noted the literary magazine name before and then later realize can't find it. So the actual website link is important).

How you submitted it (My first instinct is to check Submittable, but many places accept email submissions and some other places.)

Whether or not you've simultaneously submitted this story (Although I submit most stories simultaneously, I like to make a special note when I haven't. This is important if a story was specifically written for a contest or something along those lines).

So, I hope this helps you keep track of your own submissions. What else would you suggest adding to a submission spreadsheet?


Sue Bradford Edwards said...

As you get more work out there and submit to a larger number of markets, it also helps to keep track so that you don't send it to them again. I also keep track of who I sent it to since agents/editors move around.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Great tips, Nicole! :) I also make a note if their rejection was personalized, and if they invited me to submit again. You can tell so much from a personalized rejection...whether your style is just not a fit at all or if you have a chance in the future. In addition, it also helps to have a target submission spreadsheet with theme/call deadlines you want to submit to.

Congratulations on reaching 50 submissions!

Renee Roberson said...

50 is huge number! Way to go. How many different stories are included in that list?I have dinky little Excel spreadsheet I use to keep track of all my freelance projects, and it is broken out by month. At the bottom I include any contests or journals or online markets I've queried, and that's also where I put any agents I've reached out to. I have date submitted, market, and date of response. I like Angela's idea about noting if the rejection is personalized, so I may have to steal that one.

Marcia Peterson said...

Great job with your submission efforts! Sounds like a good tracking plan, especially with some of the tweak mentioned above. Keep at it :)

Nicole Pyles said...

@Sue - that's a good idea! I could actually easily see myself making the mistake of resending the same story to the same people/magazine, so that's definitely another reason to keep track!

@Angela - great idea at keeping track of personalized rejections! I like the idea of having target submissions actually. It would keep me focused on what to work on!

@Renee - Thanks Renee! It's actually spread across 6 stories I realized recently, which isn't bad overall, I guess.

@MP - Thanks!

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