How do freelance writers keep track of their article pitches and submissions? I’ve been using an Excel spreadsheet to track my magazine article pitches and submissions for over two years. Here’s how and why it works like a charm…
Before the tips, a quip:
“Work with yourself, not against yourself,” says Julie Hood of TheOrganizedWriter.com. “Understand your personality and what works for you. Do what feels right and what appeals to you-not what seems to ‘be organized.’”
Fellow scribes, if you want to get organized and track your article pitches, submissions, or writing goals (such as how many words you write per day, how much money you earn per month) – you need to find what works for you. Try new ideas, such as my Excel spreadsheet or someone else’s writing software program – and keep trying until you find what makes you feel like a real writer. The more “real” you feel, the more success you’ll enjoy.
For more info on being an organized writer, read Writer’s First Aid: Getting Organized, Getting Inspired, and Sticking to it! by Kristi Holl.
And here are my tips on tracking your article pitches and submissions…
How Freelance Writers Track Article Pitches and Submissions
My simple Excel spreadsheet is easy to use, free, and inspiring! Here’s how I stay organized as a freelance writer – and I use the same format for both my book proposal and my article pitches. I also used it to keep myself organized while I queried agents.
1. I use two spreadsheets – one for my “regular freelance writing jobs” (editors and magazines I’ve worked with in the past). And the other is simply “magazine publishers” (markets I have yet to break into).
2. First column: name of magazine or book publisher. In alphabetical order, I list the names of all the magazines I’ve ever pitched – and some I hope to pitch soon.
3. Second column: contact. This is the editor or publisher’s full name and title.
4. Third column: email address. I’ve only snail mailed one article query, to AARP…and I never heard back. That was over two years ago; now, I only pitch ideas to editors via email. So, no snail mail addresses in this column for me (except for book proposals…that can be a different story).
5. Fourth column: magazine type. Seniors, women’s lifestyle, alternative medicine, healthy living, yoga, writing, family, men’s lifestyle, green living, divorce…the types of magazines are endless!
6. Fifth column: article. Here, I include the title of my article, such as “The Magic of Menopause” or “When it Flares: Coping With Chronic Pain.”
7. Sixth column: date sent. As soon as I email a pitch to an editor, I record the date I sent it. This is one of those annoying little writing chores that make your life SO much easier later! Like reading your work out loud or editing your sentences and articles – once you get into the habit, it becomes second nature.
8. Seventh column: response. When an editor assigns an article, I go: YES May 14, 2009!! This not only shows me the response time for my editors and article pitches, it also keeps me inspired. I also highlight the day an article is accepted or assigned in my daytimer, and savor the feeling of accomplishment. If an editor passes or doesn’t respond after several weeks, I re-pitch the idea.
9. Eighth column: follow up? This is my least used column in my pitch and article submission tracking spreadsheet, even though I know that the more I use it, the more articles I’ll sell! I’ve only followed up with editors about three times – that is, I’ve only emailed a gentle “Have you had a chance to consider my ‘magic of menopause’ article idea yet?” Of those three follow up emails to editors, one apologized and said she’ll make sure my pitch is discussed at the next editors’ meeting. Honestly, I figure that if they like the idea, they’ll assign it.
10. Ninth column: comments. Here, I list pertinent bits of info, such as how much a magazine pays or what the editor said in his/her email to me. “Not a natural fit” and “will discuss at next week’s story meeting” are a few examples from my tracking sheet.
Fellow scribes, how do you track your article pitches and/or book proposals? I’d love to learn how other writers do it – comments below - and I’m especially curious about following up with editors. Do you remind them of your pitches, and do you get more assignments because of it?
To learn more about freelance writing, read Should I Quit My Job to Work as a Writer for Hire?