The submission process for short stories, as I may have mentioned before, can be a frustrating one. The best way to stay sane throughout is to stay organized. I started seriously submitting my short stories to literary magazines in 2005 and it quickly became apparent that if I was going to be professional about this, I needed to keep track of what stories were submitted where and when.
I started out with an Excel spreadsheet and that has served me well. I also eventually discovered Duotrope Digest and began using it in earnest around 2007. I am a huge supporter of Duotrope and urge anyone who writes and wants to publish short fiction or poetry to make use of it. It saves a lot of time and research and it is free. I try and make regular donations when my finances allow. A writing friend and I made a deal that we would make a donation to Duotrope every time we received an acceptance as a sort of thank-you for making the process easier.
However, despite the fact that Duotrope is awesome, I like tracking my submissions in a manner that doesn't necessarily rely on internet access, and I like being able to store specific information that there isn't necessarily room for in Duotrope. So, I have continued to maintain both my Duotrope account and my Excel spreadsheet.
In the last year or so I have felt like I have outgrown my spreadsheet. I had over 300 submissions logged with all the pertinent info and other miscellaneous details that I wanted to know, such as the nature of a personal rejection or the name of an editor who I have corresponded with. So began my quest for quality submission tracking software for writers.
There aren't many. And those that do exist usually seem very overpriced. I know programming is hard work (I happen to live with a software engineer), but I am not willing to pay upwards of $100 for something that I can essentially do in a spreadsheet, no matter how pretty it is.
Finally I stumbled upon The Writer's Scribe. It is not only available for a very reasonable fee of $25, they allow you a 20-day free trial to see if it works for you. I downloaded it a couple weeks ago and have been working to input my history of submissions into it. At first I found it not as user-friendly as I had hoped for, but by playing around with it, I quickly figured out everything I needed to use it. I definitely love that you can customize much of it, so it is suitable for not just fiction or poetry, but also freelancing, or contest entries, or other writing mediums. You can also upload files to it, so you have an extra place to back-up work. My favorite feature is that I can just click on the name of a lit mag and see every story I have sent to it without having to go through a filtering process. I also love the ability to put lots of notes and attach them to a story, a publisher, or a submission. I am thinking about copying and pasting in personal rejections so I can remember exactly who said what about my work.
The Writer's Scribe seems to do everything I need it to do and then some. Is it perfect? Not really. It is easy to accidentally overwrite a record if you don't watch out, and it took me a little while to get the hang of how it works. It has also been time consuming inputting the last 6 years worth of submissions into it, but that really isn't the programmers fault. Overall, it is a huge step up from my good ol' spreadsheet and the price is definitely more in line with a struggling writer's budget. I'd definitely recommend it for any writers who are playing the submission game. I am going to go ahead and buy it and consider it money well spent. It will at least tide me over until my sweetie the software engineer has time to custom make me a program. :)
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