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How to Keep Track of your Contest Submissions

How to Keep Track of your Contest Submissions

Keeping track of your writing submissions is smart. Keeping track allows you to stay organized and on task with your submission strategy. You'll need to provide a list of published work to some publishing companies, you also need to keep track of your submissions so you don't double submit, or miss timelines. You won't always get a rejection, but if two months go by, past the publisher's response time, then you know it's time to submit that piece to another publication. Don't let your work sit and collect dust.

Once you start submitting your work, you should keep track of the following:
  • title of work
  • submission date
  • submitted to (URL to access site/publisher/magazine you submitted to)
  • estimated reply time from publisher
  • other details (contest closes, reading price paid, winning amount, accepts simultaneous submissions?)
  • Outcome (published, rejected etc.)
  • Make sure to keep track of published date (you'll need this for later submissions of your work).
It's amazing how quickly you can forget where you sent what. And once those charges come in through paypal, you may want to be able to identify them.

There are lots of ways you can keep track of your writing submissions.
  • Use a spreadsheet
  • Use filing folders on your computer and timestamps on your documents (I have a folder called "Writing". In that I have a folder called "Ready to Submit". In that I have a folder called "Submitted". I move my documents around depending on the stage they are in).
  • Use filing folders in paper
  • Use recipe cards
  • Use purchased or free software
  • Use membership online database (The Writer's Database free
Personally, I use a spreadsheet. Here are the benefits.
  • Doesn't cost me anything because I already have MS Excel on my computer
  • I add / remove any columns I want -- it's completely personalized for my needs
  • I can colour code any information (rejections in red, published in green etc)
  • It's saved on my computer, so I don't have to access the Internet where I get lost in Facebook etc.
Last reason to keep track is that you can analyze your results. For example: Between July and September 2005, I submitted 24 pieces of writing. Out of those submissions, 8 were published. If my math is correct, that's a 33% publish rate. I'm not much of a math person, but I love to see graphs and outcomes. Analyzing your submissions can result in high success rates through understanding what sells, what publishers are more likely to accept your work and what queries are working etc.

Keep track.


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