What tools (software or otherwise) or procedures do you use to track the progress of submissions to publishers or other markets? How do you reduce the chance of accidentally (and embarrassingly) submitting the same thing twice to the same market?
For tracking short stories and direct submissions to publishers, use Duotrope, a free online tool that contains every market you've ever heard of and a multitude that you haven't, complete with submission history, links to websites, etc. Also, be sure to donate to them, because they deserve it.
For tracking agent queries, use Query Tracker, which has a similar feature set but is geared towards literary agents (which Duotrope doesn't cover). They also have a premium subscription for 25$ that gives you a bunch of additional nice features.
For each story I have a spreadsheet set up that not only has the usual information about a story (Word count, summery and the like) but also information about all my submissions, including:
- What magazine it was sent to
- The editor at the time
- When it was sent out
- When it came back
- What the results were
- Any notes about the submission
It's not fancy, but it does the job pretty well and it's easy to set up/move around. I make a point of keeping the editors name because it can change how I submit a story. If an editor rejects a story saying that they liked it, but it's not right for that magazine and then they move to a magazine that's a better fit, it's worth sending it in.
I use a combination of:
Sonar 3 is a nice little desktop app that let's you define stories, markets, and create "submissions". Each submission links a story to the market it was sent to, records responses from editors, acceptances/rejections, and allows some filtering of stories.
Subversion is a version control tool generally used in software development. It stores all my documents in a single central repository, and allows any particular revision of a file to be retrieved exactly as it was. (It works well enough but I'll be moving to Mercurial as soon as I work out some "issues" with my current repository). There is an existing question that has more details on version control tools.
I use Bento, a personal database program from the people who make Filemaker.
- I have one "library" for stories, one for markets, and one for submissions.
- Each submission gets logged, and then I relate the market and the story to that entry. (This is where Bento falls down--a full database program would do it automatically.)
- Now I can scan my submissions log, or I can open a story's entry and see everywhere it's been, or I can open a market's entry and see what's been sent there.
- Each story also has a field for "future markets", listed in priority order. When one comes back it takes about 10 seconds to log the rejection, look up the next market, and make sure nothing else is currently submitted there.
- The submissions log includes date sent, date returned (or lost, withdrawn, or sold), word count (which can change if I revised between submissions), and notes.
I also use Duotrope because it tells me when I can expect to hear back based on others' reported response times, but I keep the Bento database because it's faster and more customizable.
I use a database that I built using Filemaker Pro. It's far from perfect, but I'd like to share my notes about submission tracking in case they help you to decide how you would like to track your submission.
p.s. this same question is being asked in a few places on here: