One of my resolutions/goals this year is to submit more. I was fully prepared to submit some of my stories last year and had everything ready to go. I had several polished stories and a checklist of publishers for each. Hesitation and procrastination held me back. I should have been sending more out as soon as I got replies back, but I hummed and hawed over whether the stories were really good enough and whether they needed more work before sending on to the next. I had a good year in 2011, though. My success rate for submissions in terms of short stories/competitions was nearly 50%. I should have submitted more! I also got positive feedback from publishers on some of my children’s stories, which should have encouraged me. So this year I’m resolved to submit more–especially in terms of my children’s stories.
The Publisher Checklist
When submitting, it’s vital to keep track of what is being sent to whom. That’s why I keep a publisher checklist as a spreadsheet in Excel. I want to share that with you, in case anyone else finds it helpful. Of course, it can be applied just as readily to agents if you happen to be submitting to agents.
- Name of publisher (or agency). Those highlighted in red are those who are currently closed to submissions. It’s a good idea to check back every now and then, though, as sometimes they reopen for short periods of time. Those highlighted in yellow are those to whom I have submitted and am waiting to hear back from (I haven’t started submitting this particular story yet). Those highlighted in blue are the ones I have heard back from.
- Contact name. Most publishers request for you to address the submission ‘to the editor’ or something along those lines, but for those who have a specific contact name I add them to the list. This is especially important if you are submitting to agents, as agents would prefer you address them by name rather than ‘dear agent’.
- Contact details. This is where I list their postal address and/or e-mail (depending on how they prefer you to submit). I also list their phone number.
- Query done? A simple yes or no here. As you can see, I’ve only written our a query/cover letter for Scholastic for this story at the time of this post. I usually write a generic query/cover letter for each story that’s ready to submit, then I copy it into a new Word document and tailor it to suit each individual publisher, keeping their individual guidelines in mind.
- E-mail/Post? Some publishers prefer submission by post, others by e-mail. It’s important to note this down as it will determine how you format your query/cover letter. (For example: a postal letter requires contact details at the top of the letter, whereas an e-mail requires them at the bottom.)
- Simultaneous submission? Here I note if a publisher specifically states they are not open to simultaneous submission (they will not accept submissions that have also been subbed elsewhere–it has to be exclusive). I also mark the box red so I don’t accidentally send to them when I’ve subbed to other publishers.
- Stamped self-addressed envelope? For those who require postal submission, a SSAE is required if you wish to receive a reply and your manuscript back (in the case of a rejection). This gets a tick when done.
- Sent? Once the submission had been sent this box gets a tick (plus the publisher gets highlighted in yellow).
- Date sent. So I can keep track of how long it’s been out on submission.
- Expected wait time. This is how long they estimate it will take for you to receive a reply. Once I’ve sent the submission, I make note of what date I should expect to hear back from them.
- Reply received? Once I receive a reply, I note the date and whether it was a rejection or not. For a rejection I highlight this box red. For requested edits it gets highlighted yellow. And if it gets accepted: green.
- I then have subheadings for stages of edits if they have been requested (eg: edits requested, date edits sent).
It’s important to regularly recheck details and update the list. Addresses and contacts can change. Some publishers are only open at certain times or close down submissions if they don’t have room for anything new.
How do you keep track of your submissions? Do you keep some kind of checklist?