When you start researching markets and submitting your stories it can get really easy to lose track of all the information you’ve gathered. This is why it’s helpful to create a spreadsheet to keep all your data organized BEFORE you start researching and submitting. It’s much easier to do and less time-consuming to create a structure for yourself at the beginning before things start to get hectic.
Having a spreadsheet that works for you has a lot of benefits, such as keeping your data organized, making it easy to find information, figuring out where you need to do more research, and not wasting time by researching the same thing over and over again.
Also, having a spreadsheet like this can de-personalize rejection a bit. When I was first starting out, I had a bunch of finished stories and I didn’t know where to send them. I’d find out about a magazine and haphazardly send the story out to it, and whenever I got a rejection I felt a sense of dread, “Oh no, I’m going to have to do market research again.” And then my story would sit and collect dust for years because I hated doing market research.
Having a spreadsheet helped me get the research over with much faster because I was researching smarter; I felt like I wasn’t wasting my time because my research was really targeted; I knew what I was looking for and I could jump straight to it. It’s a system that might not work for everybody, but it works for me. Now, whenever I get a rejection letter, I just add it to my folder, and send my story to the next market on my list.
I’m not saying that what worked for me is going to work for everybody, but I thought I’d provide a link to a GoogleDoc that mimics how I track my short stories. Feel free to download a copy and change it for your own use. Also, please read my blog post on Where to Submit Your Stories for more information about how to do targeted research. For my preliminary research, I mostly used a combination of magazine web sites, author web sites, and Duotrope.
Here is a link to my free Manuscript Submissions and Research Tracker.
I have notes in some of the header cells explaining what they mean. Look for cells that have little, green triangles in the corner and highlight the cell to read the note.