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Tracking Fiction Submissions: Changing My Tactics

A few weeks ago I shared my submissions tracking method with a writing friend of mine. I was using a complex, three-worksheet spreadsheet, with over 100 literary magazines and short story periodicals. One one sheet I kept track of the journal’s specifics (word count, simultaneous submission policy, open periods for submissions, web-site, etc) and on a second sheet, I kept track of which story had been submitted to which journals. I marked the story with an ‘o’ when it was sent out, and an ‘x’ or ‘$’ if it was rejected/accepted. The third sheet was for a couple of “rankings” of the literary journals I like to use to plan my submission strategy.

It wasn’t the best method, but it was working. I would send out a batch of submissions, mark the appropriate boxes, and wait. I knew where my stories were, but this method didn’t give me a great way to keep track of how long a story had been out for consideration, and as the list got longer and longer, it became less user-friendly.


I started keeping track of submissions with SpaceJock Software’s (free) program, Sonar. But, that was in my PC days. When I moved to MAC, I switched to a program called Manuscript Tracker, for a while. Both of these worked in a similar way. They let you put in your markets and your stories and details of when you submitted to who. You could run reports about which markets were still open (considering your piece), when you got a rejection, when you got an acceptance, etc.

Manuscript tracker worked well on my Mac until I upgraded to the Lion operating system. There haven’t been any updates to the Manuscript Tracker in years, it appears, and so, I moved on to a less-advanced system (described, briefly, above) until this past weekend.

Duotrope maintains a database of fiction markets, details about the journals and magazines, average time for response, etc. They also have a manuscript submissions tracker built-in. The website and tracking service is free, though they do accept monetary gifts in order to maintain the database and keep things up and running.

The submission tracker is pretty straight forward. You input a list of the stories you are sending out for consideration, and then you can pull up a market (One Story or Tin House, just to be optimistic!) and input when you sent the submission, which of your works you sent, and the status. Then, if you look at your submissions page, you can see all the open (and rejected or placed) submissions, how long the submission has been out, and where your submission falls compared to the average number of days for that periodical to respond to other Duotrope users.

Making The Switch

So, I spent some time this weekend submitting to new markets, and also inputing some of my “open” submissions from earlier in August and September. (Plus, one from January that I’m pretty sure is never going to be read…) The Duotrope system also allows you to mark “favorite” markets, but I haven’t played with that option yet. I have tried to maintain a “most desired” publication list on my own, but if I can figure out a way to “rate” the magazines and journals I send to through the Duotrope system, that will be even better.

If other writers have different ways to keep submissions, feel free to post them here. I don’t think there is any one RIGHT way, but we have to keep track of where we’ve sent what. Hopefully, some time soon, I’ll get that acceptance notice that causes me to scurry around withdrawing my manuscript from several other magazines…until then, Happy Writing!!

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