This blog entry will be dull for most people. I’ll explain how I track my short stories when I send them out to magazines for publication. I have two methods – one using a spreadsheet and the other writing in the folders I keep for each story.
I’ve been maintaining a spreadsheet for many years and eventually settled on the following categories.
- Magazine title and each story I sent
- The date I sent the story and the date it was returned (“returned” is a polite way of saying “rejected”)
- A formula stating how many days the story has been with the magazine
- Another formula flagging the story with an “x” in the cell after 60 days. After 120 days, the formula puts an “XX” in the cell and so on until after 250 days when the formula puts a big “OUT” in the cell. Usually before this last step, I’ve given up on the magazine sending me anything.
- “Remarks” is when I do get something back, mostly a form rejection. If they say something, I put that down. If positive, I send them something else. If negative, I take them out of my listing.
- I mark the months the magazine does not read submissions and the genres the magazine accepts, such as experimental, humor/satire, literary, mainstream, or science fiction
- There are three categories for word length (minimum, maximum, and average)
- How often they publish, when they were established, and their website ends my worksheet headings
I have over 260 magazines listed in my spreadsheet. The most useful part is my ability to sort through the headings and find magazines for my short stories that got rejected (or returned).
My second method is much simpler. I give each story a manila folder that includes all the rejections I received and acceptances (when they happen). In each folder, I write the magazine title, the date I sent them my story, and the date they returned or accepted it. It’s redundancy, but I can double check with my spreadsheet to make sure they match.
These methods are my means of being organized with my short stories. I still make mistakes, but not as many if I didn’t have these methods.
A writer should try to be organized (actually everyone should). Organization does not mean clean surfaces. It could be piles of clutter. As long as a person knows what’s in the pile when they need it and the pile does not fall on them.