When you submit your romance manuscript to agents and/or publishers you are probably making simultaneous submissions. Then there are the other things like writing contests, magazine pieces and newspapers. So you are up on what is going on, keep track of your submissions.
Why Keep Track?
First of all, it’s great to know what you have going on at all times just for peace of mind. No one wants to get a letter back from an editor and then scramble to find the materials that they want next. And, there will be a deadline attached that you will trade your arm not to miss.
Another reason to keep track of manuscript submissions is for follow-up. At some point you will want to see what is going on with your manuscript or your query letter. How will you know how long it has been since you first submitted if you aren’t keeping good records?
What Information to Track?
There is a bit of information that would be helpful for you to have on hand:
· Manuscript name
· Description of manuscript
· Publisher/agent contact information
· Date manuscript/query sent
· Date followed up with publisher/agent
· Date received reply
· Feedback/rejection or contract
You’ll want to know which manuscript you submitted and where you submitted them. Contact information at your fingertips, makes it easy to send a letter or email just to touch base after a requisite amount of time has passed.
Hopefully you will hear back with a resounding, “Yes, we will publish your manuscript.” But, if you don’t then it will be a plus if there are additional comments about your work. Having a column for feedback gives you a place to put that information.
How to Keep Track
So where do you put all of this information? Some people are old-fashioned and use index cards. There is nothing wrong with this system. You will have a lot of writing but you also won’t have to worry about accidentally deleting a computer file.
Use dividers to separate your information. This can be done by publisher/agent or by manuscript name if you are submitting multiple manuscripts. In each section, create a card for each of the above categories and any other information that you would find helpful for you. Whenever you need to make an update just add to the card or add a new card.
You can use manila folders to hold letters. You will receive correspondence from publishers and agents. Also keep copies of your query letters on file.
Another great and more modern way to track is to use an electronic spreadsheet. The advantage here is that you can organize your columns into new spreadsheet documents to view trends in different categories. For instance, when more than one publisher has provided the same feedback, it could be a sign that changes need to be made within your manuscript.
I’ve taken a look at software and online programs and haven’t found anything worth writing home about. There are various software solutions which at this point are free (open source) software programs. These include:
- Sonar, http://www.spacejock.com/Sonar.html
- Slushomatic, http://www.owlroost.com/slush/
- Writer’s Database, http://www.simonkewin.co.uk/writedb.htm
They are all fairly well received online and it’s worth taking a look to see if they’re a good solution for you.
Whatever system you use, keeping track of your romance manuscript submissions is a great way to chart your progress as a writer. Besides making it easier to get back to editors and agents quickly, you can also track trends in your work and make the right changes to make a difference the next time you submit.