Monday, July 18, 2011

Submission Tracking Chart

When I first started submitting my work to agents, I had no idea what I was doing. In fact, the very first time I sent out my ms, I didn’t properly record what I’d sent or who I’d sent it to. Basically, it was a big mess.

Over the years, I learned from my mistakes and honed my submission process, finally ending up with a workable system. A few people have asked me how I handled my submissions when I found my agent, so I thought I’d share it with all of you, too.

I utilized Query Tracker’s tool for keeping track of submissions, but I also created a spreadsheet of my own. That way I knew exactly what I’d sent out and when I could expect a response. I created a header for all of this information, then created subsections for material that had been requested, rejected, was still out, and who I had left to query.

Here’s kind of what it looked like:

AgencyAgentItems SentDateDue BackReceivedResponse
Hunter Agency John Doequery & first ten pages; first fifty pages1/1/2011, 2/2/114/1/11, 5/2/111/31/2011"Thank you for the opportunity to read your work. I enjoyed your query and sample, and would love to see the first fifty pages. Feel free to email them at your earliest convenience."
Doe Eyes AgencyJane Doequery & first page6/1/201110/31/2011--
Knot AgencyMr. Noquery10/31/20101/31/201111/15/2010form rejection
No Response
Quiet AgencyBusy Beequery & first two pages10/31/20101/31/2011-status query sent 3/31/11
To Query
Agency OneAgent One-----
Agency TwoAgent Two-----
Agency ThreeAgent Three-----

This isn't a great rendition of the spreadsheet, but it's the best I can do with the tools I have in blogger. But, it basically gets the point across. If you like, you can download a copy of the template from my website, here.

I used this spreadsheet to keep track of everything, including feedback I'd gotten on revision suggestions. When I first started out, I didn't collect so much info, and later on I was wishing I had. I also refined my submission strategy.

When I queried a new project, I started out with only two agents at a time. That way, if I got feedback then I could revise and make the piece better before sending it out to the next person on my list. Otherwise, I ran the risk of burning through everyone too quickly, with material that I could easily have made better. Once I started getting more consistent feedback, along the lines of "This is good, but not for me," then I started sending it out to more agents at a time.

How many of you have been submitting for a while? How many of you just got started? How many are getting ready to start? What's your submission process?


Michelle Flick said...

I recently made a spreadsheet as well. It identifies everything I could find out. This week I was about to submit to all of them (68!) but your tip about not querying them all at once is a great idea. Hopefully I get an agent right away (HAHAHA) but if I don't hopefully I get some feedback!
Great tip.

Anonymous said...

I created a web-based submission tracking program for my writing — and then made it available to other writers for free. Anyone who's interested can find it here:

Kelly Hashway said...

In the beginning I queried three agents at a time and waited to see if I'd get feedback. I kept a spreadsheet much like yours. Once I started getting requests for fulls, I sent out more queries--like six at a time. At the end, I had four fulls out and a few partials, so I queried a bunch of agents left on my list, figuring I had to be close. I'm so glad I have an agent now and I don't have to go through that anymore. It was stressful!

Unknown said...

I haven't submitted to agents yet, but I have entered a few flash fiction and short story pieces on line and duptropes was a good tool, but I think creating your own database is pretty easy and the best way of staying organized.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

This is good. I'm so unorganized. I keep queries on 3x5 cards, but like your idea. Thanks.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

My submitting career started with short stories going to magazines, where you're sending a lot of stories to a lot of different editors, so I began using a tracking system right away.

It was two-part: one was a chronological log similar to yours that said what story I sent to what magazine, when I expected it back, when I actually got it back, whether it was accepted or rejected, and if a rejection, whether it was anything other than a form letter.

The other part was a grid, with story titles down the left margin and magazines across the top. If I sent a story to a magazine, I would put a mark in the box where the story row met the magazine column. The mark was red if the story was still out; black if it had come back, "A" for accepted and "X" for rejected. That way, I could tell at a glance where I had sent any given story (to prevent resending it by accident), which magazines already were considering stories of mine (to prevent multiple submissions), and how many stories I had out at any given time.

I adapted the process for sending queries to agents, when the time came.

Yeah, I get all geeky about this stuff.

Carol said...

Thanks for the advice. I have not submitted to any agents but am getting close to being ready to do so. I need all the help I can get with organization. I guess I could use a similar system for submitting pieces to literary magazines.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I'm soon to start so thanks for sharing this.

Botanist said...

I queried for a while -- getting ready to run the gauntlet again after substantial revisions.

I used a similar kind of table to track what I'd sent out, to whom, when, and what the response was. I'd have been utterly lost without that.

I also found it valuable to start off with an entirely separate spreadsheet of agent details, including contact info and whatever I could glean from their website of what genres they dealt in, what their submission process is etc. and -- most importantly -- whether or not they looked like a good agency.

This made it easier to sort out who I intended to query. Searches (even through resources such as Literary Market Place) threw up lots of promising leads that turned out not to deal in my genre, and checks on places like P&E weeded out some scams. Keeping those kinds of records helped stop me re-doing the same research whenever I cast my net for possible agents.

Regina said...

I am getting ready to start the submission process so this is a nice jumping off point of showing me what I might want to start doing in order to track my progress.