Freelance Writing: How to Track Magazine Query Letters (& Follow Ups)

For a freelance writer who doesn’t have a query tracking system—or has the organizational skills of a bowling ball, like me—here is a simple spreadsheet to help you keep track.
Author:
Publish date:

Q: What's the most efficient way to track magazine queries when freelance writing? I've been doing it by date on a single sheet of paper, but that seems haphazard. —Ellen Ryan

Grammar Rules

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.

Thanks for visiting The Writer's Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.

brian-klems-2013

Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer's Digest and author of the popular gift bookOh Boy, You're Having a Girl: A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian's free Writer's Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter
Listen to Brian on: The Writer's Market Podcast

Sarah Pinsker: On Reviving the Set-Aside Story

Sarah Pinsker: On Reviving the Set-Aside Story

Award-winning novelist Sarah Pinsker discusses how she picked up and put down a story over many years which would eventually become her latest release, We Are Satellites.

Mary Alice Monroe: On Writing the Family Saga

Mary Alice Monroe: On Writing the Family Saga

Award-winning author Mary Alice Monroe discusses what it's like to draft a series that spans generations and storylines.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Final Competition Deadline, Short Story Virtual Conference, and more!

This week, we’re excited to announce the Self-Published Book Awards deadline for 2021, details on the upcoming Short Story Virtual Conference, and more!

John B. Thompson | Book Wars

John B. Thompson: On Researching Changes in the Book Publishing Industry

John B. Thompson, author of the new book Book Wars, shares the research that went into his account of how the digital revolution changed publishing for readers and writers.

From Script

Supporting AAPI Storytellers and Tapping into Mythical World Building (From Script)

In this week’s round-up from ScriptMag.com, meet South-East-Asian-American filmmakers and screenwriters, plus interviews with screenwriter Emma Needell and comic book writer/artist Matt Kindt, TV medical advisor Dr. Oren Gottfried, and more!

What Is a Personal Essay in Writing?

What Is a Personal Essay in Writing?

In this post, we look at what a personal essay (also known as the narrative essay) is, including what makes it different from other types of fiction and nonfiction writing, examples of effective personal essays, and more.

FightWrite™: How Do People Who Don’t Know How to Fight, Fight?

FightWrite™: How Do People Who Don’t Know How to Fight, Fight?

If your character isn't a trained fighter but the scene calls for a fight, how can you make the scene realistic? Author and trained fighter Carla Hoch has the answers for writers here.

April PAD Challenge

30 Poetry Prompts for the 2021 April PAD Challenge

Find all 30 poetry prompts for the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge in this post.

The Problem of Solving a Mystery When You're the Prime Suspect

The Problem of Solving a Mystery When You're the Prime Suspect

Mia P. Manansala, author of Arsenic & Adobo, explains how writers can help their main character solve a mystery when they're the prime suspect.