As a new writer, I submitted articles to editors and waited impatiently for their reply. The mechanics of sending a proposal and waiting for the answer drove me crazy. Then the light came on…why was I waiting and why wasn’t I moving on?
I needed a mechanism that managed my deadlines, follow-ups and submissions so I could focus intently on future opportunities and better manage my time. My system of spreadsheets was born. Mine is called “Keep 13 in Play.” (I strive for 13 live queries or articles at all times.) Yours could be “Keep Five Alive” or “Create Eight” or “I Agree To Write Three.” The point is to find a target number of queries or articles that feels realistic for you, then name it and maintain it.
The system consists of three spreadsheets. Sheet One chronologically lists your submissions, noting the rejections and acceptances. Sheet Two alphabetically lists your submissions by publisher, keeping all articles sent to the same publisher in a group. Sheet Three lists your submissions by title so you can see how many places you’ve sent the same article.
As an Excel lover, I prefer spreadsheets, but you can substitute tables or simple lists, if you like. Here’s what the spreadsheets should look like:
Spreadsheet One – Make a table or spreadsheet with these column headers:
- Date Sent
- Follow-up Date
Use each column as follows:
Status – A number 1 means outstanding query or submission. “P” or “pending” means accepted and pending payment. Blank means completed or rejected. At the bottom of this column, the 1’s add up to the number you are managing. I use 13.
Number – A number is assigned to each submission as you send it out (ie. 1a, 1b, 1c—indicating on how many times you’ve sent it out.).
Title – Title of the article
Follow-Up Date – If the guidelines do not specify when to expect a response, use the standard three months.
Reply – Accepted, rejected, no reply, asked for more information
Amount – Estimated payment expected. Edit to actual payment if accepted
Comments – Kill fees, deadline extended, editor changes, etc.
Spreadsheet Two – This spreadsheet lists publishers in alphabetical order. This list warns me not to send the article to the same publisher twice or tells me the types of articles a publisher accepts based on past experience.
- Publication Title
- Title of the article
Spreadsheet Three – This spreadsheet lists titles in alphabetical order. Here I can look up an article and see where I’ve sent it, if it’s still outstanding or published. This way I do not accidentally send an article to several publishers at once, which can make for an embarrassing moment, believe me.
- Title – Title of the article.
- Publisher – Title of publication.
Initially, you might fear having so many queries awaiting editorial replies. Receiving all those assignments at once can be scary. So start with whatever target number works for you. Just remember that as a freelance writer, you need multiple assignments to spread your income over several months. It is unlikely that all of the editors will reply at the same time. But if they do––and they want your work––just dig in. Imagine how many writers yearn for this kind of success.
C. Hope Clark is founder and editor of FundsforWriters.com, annually recognized by Writer’s Digest in its poll of 101 Best Web Sites for Writers. She delivers four newsletters each week to thousands with her specialty being grants and income opportunities for writers of all sizes. She’s published over 200 articles on paper and online. Her magazine credits include Writer’s Digest, The Writer Magazine, ByLine Magazine, NextStep Teen, College Bound Teen, Landscape Management Magazine, TURF Magazine, and American Careers Magazine. Hope is a motivational soul known as “Freelance Hope” in many circles. Those reluctant to promote their writing cherish her trade paperback The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success. Find more hope for your writing career at www.fundsforwriters.com & www.theshywriter.com.