Thursday, June 25, 2009

How do you track submissions?

Recently, I've spoken with a poet who doesn't track them at all. I've heard from people who use Excel, and I've also heard from someone who uses index cards, a system he started before the digital age. It works for him. For me, it would get heavy.

In my new video, I show my (super-simple) solution. I also include a bad joke and some flying SASEs.

Take a look, and let me know how you track which poems are where, what's rejected, and what gets accepted.


The Good Typist said...

I have a color-coded Excel spreadsheet. Straight across, I list columns for: Date of Submission, Publication, Website, Type (E-Mail, Form, or Snail Mail), and Current Status. When a submission is pending response, it's highlighted in yellow. Green is for acceptance, tan is for rejection, and gray for never heard back after follow-up/assume lost or not accepted. etc. If I need to follow up on something soon, I highlight in blue.

My entire self-esteem is based on how much green I see on my spreadsheet in any given day. Just kidding! ;)

Michael Dylan Welch said...

I think I'm the person who uses index cards! I sure wish I had everything on my computer, so I could search electronically for a given line or title, but I have several thousand poems already tracked on index cards so it would be a huge job to convert them.

But there's an advantage to index cards. I love being able to physically shuffle them around when deciding which poems to submit to which magazines, or to rearrange them for sequencing purposes. It also lets me process submissions without having to sit at my computer -- and sometimes poetry just isn't a "computer" thing (I write nearly all of my poems longhand, away from the computer). I'm no luddite, though!

At any rate, I have two articles about my system available online at and However, for anyone starting out, I'd highly encourage using a system on your computer!

Michael Dylan Welch

jeannine said...

I would like to point out that Writer's Market online has a submission tracking database you can use ($20 a year and it's not really set up for poetry) and so does Duotrope (free and not set up for poetry.)
I've stopped using either option and settled on my Excel spreadsheet (title, where it's out at, if they allow sim subs, highlighting for "out" or "not out" and acceptances pulled out and put in a list at the bottom) until my dear database-programming husband comes up with my long-promised poetry database project!

Dawn said...

That was great. Your "tracking submissions" could not have come at a better time. Thanks.

Valerie Loveland said...

I use index cards for the poems, and then a notebook to list the magazines and which poems I sent them.

Joannie said...

Good Typist: Thank you for sharing your solution. Do you then add a separate entry for a poem each time you send it out? I'm trying to visualize it--and I totally relate to the relationship between the green and the self-esteem.

Michael: Indeed you are the person who uses index cards! I look forward to reading the articles that you mention.

Jeannine: Thanks for the resources. And another Excel solution.

Dawn: I'm glad it was helpful.

Valerie: Are the poems written on the index cards?

It's fascinating how many solutions people have created.

The Good Typist said...

Hi, Joannie. I forgot to add that I do have a column for "Poem Titles Submitted", which I list individually in separate cells, going down in a row. A lot of times, of course, a publication will accept 1 poem out of batch of 5, for example, so I just highlight that row in green, and all the others in that section as tan. Also, if I have to withdraw a submission because it was accepted elsewhere, it gets highlighted in gray. All the color tells me at a glance how I am doing. Now, I just need to add a column for "extremely rude responses", lol! I just got a really snotty rejection from some Wiccan magazine, who said they were "we are rejecting your work out of hand, as it is of no interest to our readers". Hmmm....maybe an ugly puce shade for that one!

Valerie Loveland said...

Yes the poems are written on the cards. I always think about moving to a computer spreadsheet or something like your system, but I like shuffling through the cards too much.

Charles said...

As the developer of the Writer's Database,
I can tell you that a good number of poets are happily using that web-based program to track submissions.

I'm mainly a fiction writer, but thanks to valuable suggestions from my users over the years, I've been able to make the site much more poet-friendly.

It's free to use, BTW. And it has some other nice features in addition to submission tracking, such as sharing market listings with other users, keeping track of word counts written over time, etc.

Joannie said...

Thanks for the tip and the link, Charles.