I think in about the next week or so, I’m going to start submitting queries. The book is ready–I’m just fixing a few scenes, but they aren’t deal killers like the subplot problems were. But with the thought of submitting (aside from panic. Not “What if they reject it?” but “What if they accept it?”), I have to think of how I’m going to track it. I have special organizational needs, and they tend not to work well with the traditional methods like:
- Spreadsheet: This is probably the most common way of tracking submissions. I’ve always hated this method because it actually requires quite a bit of maintenance. For example, your closed submissions will start getting in the way on the list, so eventually something needs to be done about that.
- Database: I’ve tried a couple of these out. The tools are for freelancers, and what makes them friendly to freelancers often makes them very unfriendly to novelist. With one–because the database was designed properly–it assumes that you would be submitting to the same markets more than once. True for freelancers, but not true for a novelist. I would have to enter the agent’s information in first, then go to a different window and submit to the agent. Way too much work.
- Online: There’s a couple of online resources like Query Tracker. The plus is that these are made for submitting novels to agents. That’s also the minus. If you submit the novel to a contest like ANBA, you can’t track it at all. And for me, entering information in this is a lot of work. Got to log in, go find the agent’s name, record the submission–I’m more likely to jot it down on a paper and deal with it later (black hole time!).
So I’m experimenting with an idea map. Basically, it’s a visual representation of things like a project or a to do list or just to figure something out. Branches go off the main topic, with sub-branches. Everything is keywords, rather than lengthy sentences. They can also have pictures. I used one for copy editing–the task had so many parts that I needed to do that I couldn’t remember all of them. Yet, going down a checklist thirty times–well, that didn’t last long. The idea map was a single page that I could put up on a wall and glance at. I didn’t have to read it,but just scan the keywords.
I’m using XMind to try this out. Branches for each of the agents names and what they require for a submission:
It’s pretty small, so click on the picture to see a full-sized version. The nice thing about this is that I can put it on a bulletin board or a white board and just write updates on it. Then, as I’m adding a new agent to it, I just update the whole thing all at once instead of doing it one at a time.