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Storyteller's Keep II
I need some help... tracking submissions 
13th-Mar-2008 04:13 pm
gray dragon

So, I'm working to set up a database to track my submissions.  I thought, why not set it up much like a SW defect tracking system utilizing fields with choices or values?  That way, I can define search criteria to track submissions as they move through the submission lifecycle, taking weekly snapshots in order to preserve history (can you tell I'm a process geek yet?).  This also enables me to set up metrics (i.e., aging metrics, # of submissions out, to whom, etc.).

Here's a list of items I'm thinking about tracking.  As I'm a newbie (or grommie if you surf), I'm sure there are things I'm not thinking about or accounting for, so any help from you all out there would be just awesome.

- Unique ID: each seperate submission would have a unique ID... beneficial for many reasons, including setting up any count functions
- Status: this is the submission lifecycle.  I could certainly use your experience here, but I was thinking about the following
    -Accepted with Changes
    -Rejected with Changes
    -Rejected with Changes - Re-submit
    -Contract Accepted
    -Pending Reason: edits, in review, contract definition, ??
    -Closed Reason: Rejected, Rejected with Changes, Published, No Response, ??
    -?? - What else should be here and should I remove any?
- Submit Date
- Re-Submit Date
- Closed Date
- Title: title of story/artwork submitted
- Type: short story, novella, novel, etc.
- Submittee: title of magazing, house, agency, etc. sent to (i.e, Talebones, TOR, etc.).
- Submittee Type: Magazine, eZine, Small Press, Big Publisher, etc.
- Submittee Contact: name of person submitted to
- Owner: current owner (this could be the submittee contact, me, agent, editor, etc.)
- Notes: this is where I keep detailed notes, comments, and history

That's it so far.  I know several of you use various tools to track your submissions. Do you have suggestions on tools?  Also, what do you like to track?  Are there additional fields and field choices/values you recommend I include?  Is it too hard to combine types, i.e., short stories with novellas or novels, or do you recommend I keep them in separate databases because their lifecycles are different? 

Thanks much for the help.

14th-Mar-2008 12:18 am (UTC)
Version of the story, which is to say, revision. Is important!
14th-Mar-2008 12:21 am (UTC)
(nodding) Oh yeah... good point. We had this discussion. Excellent!
14th-Mar-2008 01:27 am (UTC)
And... (smaking forehead) ummmm...duh. I R GUD SW Qual-ty Engineer.
14th-Mar-2008 03:45 am (UTC)
Call it "Phase" maybe (Outline, 1st Draft, 2nd Draft, Revision, Complete.)
14th-Mar-2008 04:08 am (UTC)
Hey Kayt - I might add a field for "queried" because the wait time on submission can be long and it's nice to know if/when I last queried for status. Other possibilities: reprint submission, print date, cost of postage, and because I know some folks have enough data to create it - average time a submission is out for a given market. Good database-ing to you! (Metrics, hah, can't tell who you work for! :) the flashbacks are killing me!)
14th-Mar-2008 04:12 am (UTC) - Well, I'm hesitating
To add to this since I track very little - the name of the story, what market, date out, date back, and what happened, which means I have multiple lines in my word table for every story (unless it sells on first time out, like anthology stories sometimes do). It's getting unweildy big.

But - hey - to everyone their own ways and if I were to be keeping this much detail, I'd also want to know genre (even if you only write in one today, you may branch out later - I write literary, sf, and fantasy stories, and, rarely, poetry). You might also want publication date. Also, I cringe at the word owner. That's you. Period. Unless you sell all rights in perpetuity to someone, which I suppose you might is someone else's universe. You will want to track rights sold. You may also need a way to deal with foriegn rights and reprints. You may also want to know if it is currently in print and where (as in available on anthology builder).

Hope this helps.

14th-Mar-2008 04:58 am (UTC)
Ahhh, this is all so good. I keep nodding and hearing myself say, "Yes." and "Oh, yeah." and "Oh, excellent thought!" (smiling)

Thank you all for the great feedback.
14th-Mar-2008 02:45 pm (UTC)
I think the proposed process is way too heavyweight (and I say this as a former software geek with pretty strong opinions about bug tracking systems). There's no need to track separate submit and resubmit dates for each story, and there are both too many distinct states and several important states missing.

The thing I think you may be missing is that the basic record should perhaps be a submission, not a story. For tracking purposes you really need to know where a story has been in the past as well as where it is now and how long it's been there. It's not like a bug, which is typically opened once, hangs around a while, and is then fixed and finally confirmed (okay, there might be a couple of fix/confirm cycles if the bug is a nasty or arguable one). For a story you will typically have many submit/reject cycles and you need to have an immediately visible list of where it's already been when you're thinking about where to send it next. Making the basic record a submission will also make it easier to quickly search the database to find your average response time from a given market.

For tracking purposes I use an Excel spreadsheet with a separate sheet for each story and the following columns on each sheet:

- Date Out
- Sent To
- Date Back
- Days Out
- Response
- Comments

Each row represents a submission (well, technically a state change, because I also have rows for Drafted, Critiqued, and Edited for each story). The Days Out is automatically calculated from the Date Out and Date Back (or, if Date Back is blank, the current date). The Response field has the following possible values:

- Awaiting Response
- Rejected
- Withdrawn
- Other Non-Sale (e.g. market closed)
- Rewrite Requested
- Accepted
- Published
- Trunked

I also have a Summary sheet with a macro that pulls together all of the rows in every sheet into a single sheet (adding the name of the sheet, which is the story title, as an additional column at the beginning). I use AutoFilter on this sheet to display only those rows where the status is Awaiting Response, and that's my summary of stories out and how long they've been wherever they are.

One important thing about my spreadsheet is that each sheet includes not only past submissions but future ones. The first few rows of each sheet have Wrote, Critiqued, and Edited in the Sent To field (with start and end dates and no Response value). The remaining rows are all markets, in the order in which I intend to send this story. I make up this list as soon as the story is finished. When I send the story out, I fill in the Date Out field. I use the Days Out field in my Summary sheet to see how long it's been out and to prompt me to query. When I get a response, I fill in the Date Back and Response fields, and if the response is a rejection I just look down one row to see where I'm going to send it next. (If I already have a story at the next market, I move the next open market up a row and send it there instead.) This helps me to keep stories in submission. I rarely have a story sit around for more than a day or two. If the response is an acceptance, I remove the remaining markets and replace them with rows for Contract, Check, Galleys, and Publication for tracking the story through production.

Wow, that's long. Hope it helps. I may re-post this in my own blog for safekeeping.
15th-Mar-2008 12:04 am (UTC)
This is cool! I want to lay it out myself in order to grok it and may try both systems just to see pros and cons of both. Ultimately, I suspect I'll settle on a blend of all the suggestions I've gotten. But, I'll definitely bear in mind the, "Keep It Simple, Stupid," principles and will try not to make it more than it needs to be. Thanks for that reminder.

Oh, and BTW it really helps that you speak SW_Geek_ese. Heh heh.

In my mapping, I am treating each record as a separate submission with the ability to search all submissions against a story via the Title field. But, I suspect I am still trying to comprehend too much with a single record -- a concern I also had when I was starting to lay it out.

This is why I posted this. (grin) You've given me some excellent suggestions and different perspectives that make perfect sense. So, thanks!! It does help and I'll let you know how it goes.
15th-Mar-2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
If I were to do this as a relational database, I'd have three tables: Stories (title, length, filename, genre, etc.), Markets (title, editor's name, address, min/max/avg response time, genres accepted, lengths accepted, etc.), and Submissions (story ID (required), market ID (optional), sequence number, date out, date back, status, etc.). The sequence number in the Submissions table makes it possible to have an ordered list of future markets for a given story (past and present submissions can be sorted by date).
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