Many freelance writers submit their work only to magazines because not only can it be a high-paying field, but there is also a shorter wait time than for, say, books. But if you hope to make a living through magazine article sales, you’ll need to become more organized. Finding an efficient method of tracking magazine article submissions should be high on your list of priorities.
Why Do You Need to Keep Track of Magazine Article Submissions?
As a freelance writer, you’ll need to start getting a feel for how many articles you need to sell each month in order to make a decent living. Tracking your article submissions lets you know how long each editor takes to respond and how often you need to submit. Further, you’ll need to keep track of which articles need to be edited, revised or re-submitted for consideration.
Where Should You Keep Track of Magazine Article Submissions?
I would advise keeping track of your submissions in a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel. This allows you to simply input the fields as they become available rather than trying to section your work in Microsoft Word (or similar word processing program). But don’t worry; even if you’ve never used Excel, you can create a simple spreadsheet for your own personal records.
Remember: Know one needs to see your magazine article submission tracker but you!
What Information Should be Included in Your Magazine Article Submission Tracker?
Some writers prefer to keep their magazine article submissions as simple as possible, while others like to include as much data as possible. That’s completely up to you. But to give you an example, my magazine article submission tracker includes the following spreadsheet headings:
Manuscript Number (abbrev. Man. No). This column of my article tracker is the number corresponding with the one I gave the manuscript. Each of my files containing a manuscript is labeled not only with the title of the piece, but also with a number.
Manuscript Title. One of the most important things to have in your article tracker is the title of the manuscript. Make sure to include the full title (including a sub headline, if applicable).
Date(s) Queried. Your magazine article submission tracker should also include the dates you have queried different magazines. It is best to use the date on which you actually sent the query letter.
Magazines Queried. Next to the dates you have queried various magazines, list the name of the magazine.
Postal/E-Mail. I personally like to note whether I queried by e-mail or postal mail. This allows me to go back and see which magazines prefer which type of query.
Editor Response. This column of my magazine article submission tracker will only be filled out when I receive a response from an editor. Sample responses might be “Request Manuscript”, “Rejected”, “Accepted” or other notes.
Lead Time. This column of my magazine article submission tracker lets me determine when an accepted manuscript will be published. Most magazines have set lead times (some as long as 6-12 months).
Date Published. When one of my articles is published in a magazine, I note the date of the publication, the issue number (or date) and any other pertinent information.
Editor Notes. The final column of my magazine article submission tracker is just for me. After the entire process is completed – from query to publication – I write notes about my experience with a particular editor. Even if he or she accepted my manuscript, I won’t be submitting again if it was a negative experience.
This all might seem like a lot of extra work, but it will save you from trying to remember when you queried a magazine or when an article will be published. Keeping it all on one spreadsheet will actually save you quite a bit of time as well as your sanity when you start to really crank out those articles.
SPECIAL NOTE: The magazine article submission tracker can also be updated to track Internet article submissions, such as those you write for AC.