As a writer, I have learned that organization is a must, especially after I embarrassed myself by sending the same article to the same editor twice. The little note he sent back was not encouraging.
Mistakes like that are not only unprofessional, but a waste of the editors time, which are very, busy people. It may also hurt your chances of being accepted by that same editor later on.
I decided to get more organized so that I would never make the same mistake again. The method I use has been easy, inexpensive and very thorough. Even if I forget to write something down in one place, I have the information somewhere else. This is also not time consuming, as I do not have a
lot of time.
To help you get organized as far as keeping up with writer’s guidelines, and tracking your submissions the only tools you will need are:
1. 2 three-ring binders
2. Recipe box (big enough to hold 4x6 index cards)
3. 4x6 index cards
4. Different colored highlighters
5. A blank book (you can find these journal type books at a dollar store)
As far as keeping track of the writer’s guidelines that I request, I just punch holes in each page and file them in alphabetical order in the three- ring binder. When they are filed in one place I can easily look them up, instead of sorting through random papers that would have a tendency to be scattered all over my house. You can also create a file on your computer for guidelines if you don't want to print them all out. Your computer will automatically store them in alphabetical order making them easy to find.
For the submission, the organization is two-fold. First, I use the index cards. On the top of each card, I write down the title of the article. (I also find it helpful to put the word count in parenthesis next to the title. That way when I need to know the count, I don’t have to open up the file on my computer and perform a word count each time.) Then, each time I send out that particular article or story, I write down the publication underneath the title. If it is rejected or accepted, I write that down next to the publication. If it is accepted, I write down the issue number and date or any other information I may need later for reprints.
Keeping my box of cards is helpful in the fact that I can quickly see whom I have already sent something to and also how many times it has been rejected. If it has been rejected too many times, I can tell that I should probably go back and do some rewriting.
The second part of tracking submissions is where my little book comes in. First I write down the date, then the publication, then the title of the article, how long it will take them to respond and if I used any postage. It might look like this:
Fellowscript “To Be Organized” 1-4 weeks (2 stamps)
This helps me see a lot of information at one time. First of all, by glancing through the pages, I can see how much writing I have been doing lately. Second, I can see if it has been too long since I have heard back from a submission. If it has been quite a bit longer than they say it should take to respond, I can contact the editor and see if they have made a decision.
A couple of times when I contacted the editors, they had either not received it, or it had been misplaced and they asked it to be resent. After checking on he status of both of those articles they ended up being accepted. Who knows if they would have if I had just ignored the fact that they had not responded. It’s worth it to keep careful track of your submissions and get back in touch with an editor when you are unsure. Sometimes a short email or a postcard can mean the different in a sale or not.
When decisions have been made, I mark over each entry in my book with an appropriate highlighter color. For me, yellow means it was rejected, orange means it was accepted, blue means it was returned or there was no response even after I contacted them again, pink means it was an
I use another three ring binder to keep track of all my paychecks. I use regular ledger paper and write down all the accepted articles and how much they will pay. When I receive payment, I put a checkmark by the dollar amount so that when tax time rolls around, I have all the numbers I need
handy and in one spot.
I hope this will help you keep track of all your submissions in the New Year. More writing can get done if we are more organized and not always looking for something that we know we left right
Please feel free to share any questions or comments you have regarding the way you organize.