Professional writing is hard. Over the past few months, I have had to rein in my expectations. It takes a lot longer to get an answer from publishers than I expected. And rejection is a much more common result. The long duration of the publishing process makes it all the more important to have some way of keeping track of it all.
I posted about my method for tracking story submissions before. I use an Excel spreadsheet to track where each story has been and what the current status is. A quick scan down the list allows me to see if there are any currently in limbo and also which publishers are currently reading one of my works.
The method has worked well so far, but in the past few months I have tweaked it a bit. I wanted to share the update here.
First, it is helpful to mark the titles of the story to show if it is a reprint or unpublished, since that directly affects where you can send it (I marked my reprints with -r- and placed them at the top of the list. Most of these are taken from my blog).
Second, it is helpful to mark the publisher with the date you sent it, their stated turn-around time, and whether they accept simultaneous submissions (which I marked with an “sm” as with the story “The Dirt”).
I also started marking possible future publishers that seem a good match for works that are currently elsewhere (such as with “The Alchemist”). This was perhaps the biggest lesson. It often takes a long time to get a result on a submission, and you should generally expect rejection. As can be seen in my sample above, there were many more rejections than acceptances. Planning for rejection will help you to get back in the game when the letter comes, getting that story back out on the field as soon as possible.
Another thing that can been seen by this sample is that I send my works to a lot of different publishers. Not only does this give me a better chance to find editors that like my style of writing, I also think it is nice to not barrage some poor editor with your stuff repeatedly, even if they say in their rejection letter to keep sending. Give each place a moment of rest and try a new one.
Currently there are about 30 stories on my tracker, so I have been quite busy the past few months. It’s amazing to see how much I have done. “Dead or Alive” is currently at the fifth publisher. I am not giving up on that one. Every time if comes back I do a revision and send it back out. I’m sure it’s just waiting for the right editor to read it.
Good luck to all my fellow authors in getting published. If you’d like some ideas of where you can send your work, just ask me below.
UPDATE: I forgot to link to the original post where I introduced my story tracker. That can be found HERE.