If you’re like most authors, there’s a good chance that you will send your manuscript to a number of publishing companies as you pursue a book deal. After all, the more publishers you approach, the better your chances of getting a book published. However, sending submissions out to numerous publishers also increases the chances of confusion and error on your part.
Creating a system is simple and won’t take much time, but it’ll save you from a lot of headaches later on. You don’t want to resend your work to a publisher who’s already rejected it, especially if you haven’t made substantial revisions. Besides being a waste of your time and money (assuming you sent in a hard copy), you’re wasting the publisher’s, which could poison them against future submissions of revised or new works.
The tips below will help you create a quick and simple way to keep track of all your submissions. The same system can track your proposals, short stories, essays, and book-length manuscripts, by the way, and is useful when submitting to publishers or literary agencies.
You Need to Track This Information
For starters, it’s important to know what information you should include on your documents or leave space to record. The basics are:
- name of the work you’re submitting
- names of publishers you’ve sent your work to
- date your submission went out
- responses received from those publishers
- date you received response
Additionally, you may want to record further action taken, such as sending a thank-you note, if you were invited to have a phone meeting, if you were invited to submit further material (and what response you received after that), or if you made further revisions to the work in response to suggestions from the publisher.
How to Set Up Your Tracking System
Your information can be arranged in many ways; you will find that it all depends on your preference. If you are computer savvy, I recommend you use your computer and create a table or spreadsheet. Be sure to include the information outlined above. What’s nice about using the computer is that you can easily add information right away. If you have a smart phone, you could even create the file in a program like Evernote, which has an app for your Apple or Android phone—that way you could update your list or review the information on the go. That could come in handy if you’re at a writers’ conference and need to recall the name of an editor, for example.
As nice as it is to use the computer, some people feel more comfortable keeping important information in print. The same approach can and should be taken though. Create a chart and keep it in a well-known place so that you don’t accidentally lose your important information. Also, be sure to remember to update your list every time you decide to send your book to a new publisher or if you receive a response letter.
I’ve created a simple MS Word template you can use as is or adjust as you like, with a couple of sample entries to show you how I use it. I recommend you save it to your desktop so it’s just a click away, or if you have a keyboard with hot keys, connect one of them to the document file. Alternatively, you can print it out. Click below to download a copy.
As you can see, creating a system that allows you to track publishers that you have sent or intend to send your book to is a lot easier than it may sound. How do you keep track of your submissions? I’d love to know!
Founder of The Writer’s Ally, Ally E. Machate is a bestselling book collaborator, award-winning editor, and expert publishing consultant who loves using her insider knowledge and experience with the publishing industry to lead serious authors toward success. She and her team live to help make great books happen, whether that means showing a writer how to improve a manuscript, get an agent, or self-publish; or coaching an author on growing her platform to sell more books. Since 1999, she has supported hundreds of authors on their publishing journey and takes pride in serving as their books’ best ally.