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Writers: Here’s How To Organize Your Submissions And Documents In Three Easy Steps!

Let’s face it: Most of us would rather spend our time writing than doing paperwork. The business aspect of making creative writing submissions can be tedious and frustrating, but getting (and staying!) organized is key to managing your submission strategy effectively. Here are three steps to a workable system that will keep you on track—and leave you more time for writing!

3 Steps For Organizing Writing Submissions

1. Lay the groundwork. Whether you prefer using a spreadsheet (such as Microsoft Excel or Numbers for Mac) or an old-school paper filing system to organize your submissions, here’s what you need to keep track of:

  • Literary agent or journal name, date sent, work sent, date returned, and any comments. Comments that pertain specifically to your submission are especially important to note. If an agent or editor asks to see more of your work, send it immediately. Don’t submit more work to the same place until you receive a response to your earlier submission—or after one year if you haven’t heard back by then.
  • Acceptances. This will help you avoid inadvertently resubmitting previously accepted work.
  • Poets should also keep track of their groups of poems. Literary journals and magazines receive submissions in groups consisting of three to six titles, so it’s important to keep track of which poems are in each group, which have been accepted, and which poems are available for resubmission.

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2. Set your computer files up accordingly. 

  • Organize your working files into folders and subfolders. Start with the big categories such as Drafts, Submissions, Networking, and Taxes and subdivide from there. Avoid making too many subcategories, however, or you’ll waste time and energy searching folder after folder to locate the file you need. If you’re a poet, we suggest that you create subfolders with a group number to correspond with a specific group of poems.
  • Name your files accurately and specifically. “NameOfNovel_Revision_April2018” rather than “Book.” A logical, definitive naming system will save you valuable time and help you avoid revising or submitting the wrong version of your work.
  • Bookmark the reference sites you use most often—dictionaries, style guides, etc.—so that you can access them quickly and easily.

3. Keep track of your financial records. Maintain a spreadsheet or file to keep track of payments received and expenses incurred while building your writing career. Save receipts for writing-related purchases like printer toner cartridges, paper, author website design, writing conference costs, and submission services. This will keep you more organized, and it can be a real bonus when you want to write off your expenses at tax time as well.

One Final Note

Back Up Your Files: It is crucial that you frequently save and create backup copies of your work. Cloud storage, flash drives, CDs, external backup drives, and Web storage sites are among the many options available for making backups; take advantage of your favorite technology so that you never lose work again!

Following these easy steps to successfully keep accurate records of your writing submissions will help you avoid embarrassing errors and give you more time to write. But if you still find yourself struggling with the administrative details of making creative writing submissions, contact Writer’s Relief at (866) 405-3003. We have been helping writers manage the submission process since 1994, and we’d love to help you too!

Updated 6/12/18

Writer QuestionsQUESTION: What other suggestions do you have for organizing writing submissions and records?

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