One of the keys to being a successful writer is to know yourself. Recording your submissions on a spreadsheet can be effective, but only if you will remember to check it regularly to track your follow-ups. Submission tracking software can keep everything in one place, including your acceptances and follow-ups. Depending on the one you choose, you can also get other helpful options.
Submission Tracking Software for Writers: What to Look For
When you are considering submission tracking software, what features should you be looking for?
It depends on the number and types of submissions you are making.
If you are only making a few pitches a year, you could even question the necessity of using software at all. A spreadsheet may be all you need to track your submission activities.
If, however, you are pitching publications regularly and/or are pitching the same idea to more than one publication, you will likely need to have some type of system to keep track of them. Here are some features you will want to look for when evaluating your submission tracking software options:
1. Search Feature
Do you want to be able to look for writing markets from within your submission tracking software? If you are just starting to search for markets or want more markets to consider, look for a software option with this feature. When evaluating your options, look at whether the search feature was recently updated, so that you know the information you will be receiving is reasonably up to date.
2. Trial Period
Do you get a chance to download the software to “try it before you buy it?” How long does the trial period last, and how is it calculated? Is it a certain number of calendar days or a set number of days of use? This does make a difference.
If you get 30 calendar days to try out the software before making a decision but you have a busy month with other writing projects and you don’t do much with your pitches to publications, you may not be able to evaluate a package thoroughly during that period. In a situation where you get 30 days of use and you only used the software for two days out of the month, you still have 28 “days” in which to try it before making your decision.
How much are you willing to spend on your submission tracking software? There are some free options available, but they will usually offer only basic features. If you are prepared to part with some coin, you will (usually) get more features and a better product.
4. Other Features
Are you interested in other features the software may have to offer, such as expense tracking, file management, rights tracking, reports, the ability to track rights, etc.? Make a list of the types of features that are important to you so that you will be sure to choose software that has most, if not all, of the ones that are most important to you.
Submission Tracking Software
This award-winning writer’s resource includes submissions tracking, along with access to a search feature that will give you access to thousands of markets for your work. Whether you are looking to sell your work in the fiction, non-fiction, or poetry genres, you will find listings for English language publications in more than 40 countries that non-solicited submissions.
Start with a free, seven-day trial to see whether Duotrope would be helpful to you. After that point, pay US$5.00 per month or $50.00 for an annual subscription.
2. The Writer’s Scribe
This specialized software is a “writing management system.” It can be run on either a Mac or PC, as well as an iPhone or an iPad. Try the free trial for 20 days first to see whether it is right for you. You get a full working version of the software. After that point, you will need to purchase it to get a registration name and a registration key to enable it. The cost of the full version starts at US$25.00.
3. Sonar Submission Tracking Tool
Sonar is free software that can be downloaded to Windows and Mac OS X. The screen is a very simple one that allows you to input the title, works, markets, submissions, date, and details. If you are looking for something basic, this option could work for you.
4. The Submission Grinder
The Submission Grinder is a submission tracker and market database for fiction and poetry writers. The great thing about this platform is that you can find places that are currently accepting submissions, so that part of your work is easily done.
The site runs on donations, so while the service is free, they’d happily accept your monetary help.
5. Story Tracker
This iOS app is perfect for any writer. Whether you want to keep track of stories, novels, poems, scripts, or articles, Story Tracker can help you organize your submissions. It’s got a whole bunch of features, starting with:
- Track submissions of all your writing: stories, poetry, novels, articles, scripts, screenplays, and more.
- Store details and guidelines for any market accepting written submissions: magazines, book publishers, journals, agencies, websites, movie studios, or even one-off writing competitions or anthologies.
- Check the status of your stories, markets, and submissions at a glance.
- Use the index to jump through long lists of stories and markets fast.
- Add or remove stories, markets and submissions with ease.
- Add details for each story, including title, word-count, genre, and notes.
- View total income earned for each story.
- TONS MORE!
These are only a few submission tracking tools writers can use to organize their work. I hope you find one that suits your needs. Let me know if you have your preferred tool, so we can share it with the FWJ community!
[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN SEPTEMBER 2015; UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2022]