Tracking Submissions: A Few Suggestions

Keeping track of your submissions—especially if you submit your work to many publications—can be a difficult challenge. Everyone has their own ways of monitoring their offerings to the gatekeepers. Deborah, author of the fantastic and interesting Dog Leader Mysteries blog, asked me to share a bit about my methods.

(Please note that my organization process is not a “one-size-fits-all” method. I would encourage you to share your own ways of organization in the comments.)

The first thing to note is that each literary magazine and journal is different. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of following the guidelines. Editors have to eliminate some of the submissions from the running. If someone doesn’t follow the specific guidelines they are easy to toss out. Also make sure to adhere to basic manuscript formatting (unless the literary magazine or journal states otherwise) and provide a professional cover letter.

There are multiple ways to submit to literary magazines and journals. Some of the more popular methods used by various publications are Submittable, personalized online submission managers, and email. Submittable is fairly easy to use and emails are often pretty straightforward.

After you submit your work, you are not done. It is important to keep track of your submissions for multiple reasons. For one thing, if your work is accepted at one publication, and you submitted it to other publications, then it is proper etiquette and your professional obligation to notify the other publications and withdraw your submission. Editors work HARD and will remember your blunder if you don’t follow this simple rule. Another reason, among many, is that rarely submissions become lost or forgotten. So that you don’t forget about them as well, it is important to keep records. There is a certain amount of time (usually listed under the guidelines) that must pass before you should inquire about your submission, however. If they don’t list it, I would wait anywhere from 3-4 months.

To keep track of my submissions I use Microsoft Excel. It is easy to modify and update as new acceptance or rejection letters are sent to me. Because I am a visual person, I color code it.

L. N. Holmes, literary magazine, literary journal, writing, reading, submissions, writer

Submissions to Germ Magazine. This example is from a database I am still editing. Click to enlarge.

In the example above you may notice I have several categories at the top and then the information entered under the headings. I use a different color for each column. It just helps me keep track of things better.

The headings are as follows:
Literary Magazine (or journal)—the publication I am submitting to

Submission—reminds me what piece I submitted
Date of Submission—so I don’t bother an editor too soon
Via—the way I submitted it (Submittable, email, etc.)
Responds in—how long it will take the editors to respond to my submission
R/A—rejected or accepted by the publication

Simultaneous?—are simultaneous submissions allowed?
Website—specifically the submission guidelines
Published date—if it is published, at what date was it published?
Where to Read—if it is published, where can I find it to read it?

These headings personally work best for me. My professors and my friends sometimes add or subtract categories in their databases according to how they work and what they need to know. For example, some will add two website categories—one for the general home page of the publication and one for the submission guidelines of the publication. Others don’t care about the method of submission so they will not include that category in their database. Some people don’t even use databases.

In addition to the categories and columns, I also color code my submissions.

White means that I’m still waiting to hear back from the editors.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 2.47.34 PM

I am awaiting a response from River Teeth. Click to enlarge.

Red means I withdrew my submission.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 2.46.01 PM

I withdrew a submission from Silk Road Review. Click to enlarge.

Yellow signifies a rejected submission.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 2.46.26 PM

Two of my stories were rejected by Smokelong Quarterly. Click to enlarge.

And green, my favorite color, is used for an accepted submission.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 2.47.07 PM

“Old Betsy’s Obituary” was accepted by Garbanzo Literary Journal. Click to enlarge.

Because I am a visual person, this helps me keep track of things. It also saves my self-esteem to see what’s been accepted along with what’s been rejected and what is still awaiting a response.

Just to add a bit more organization to the high volume of submissions I’ve started to send out, I also have a place in my email to send submission responses so that they don’t get lost in my inbox.

The submissions category in my email helps me keep track of emails from literary magazines and journals. Click to enlarge.

The submissions category in my email helps me keep track of emails from literary magazines and journals. Click to enlarge.

Like I said, it’s best to do what works for you. No one knows your strengths and weaknesses better than you do. Also, experimenting with different databases helped me find one that works the best.

I hope that helps! Thanks for reading, curious people of the internet!



  1. Pingback: Best Fiction and Writing Blogs | M.C. Tuggle, Writer

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