A: There isn’t a “right” way to track queries. You could create a database on your computer. You could write them on napkins and stuff them in a cookie jar. Any method can work as long as you understand how to use it. If you’re sending out submissions by the busload, all that really matters is that you’re organized.
For a writer who doesn’t have a system—or has the organizational skills of a bowling ball—it’s a good idea to set up a spreadsheet to track your submissions. There are six major categories that belong in your chart: the article idea, the magazine you’ve sent it to, the editor’s name/submissions address of said magazine, the date you submitted it, the date by which you should get a response and the date you plan to follow up in the event that your query goes unanswered. It should look something like this:
|Article Idea||Magazine Submitted To||Editor name/ submissions e-mail address||Date Submitted||Date Submitted||Date Magazine should reply by||Follow up on|
It’s these elements you need to remember. And for any magazine that doesn’t give a response within the time it states in its guidelines, give the editor at least one month before checking in.
You can add in extra boxes, of course, such as article accepted/rejected, contract signed, payment received and so on. You could always highlight accepted queries or draw happy faces next to them. Whatever works best for you. Just stay organized.
Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.
Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at WritersDig@fwpubs.com with “Q&Q” in the subject line. Come back each Tuesday as I try to give you more insight into the writing life.