Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Keeping Track

Lists. Charts. Calendars. Schedules. Spreadsheets. And more lists.

I tend to be a very organized person. But even I find it difficult to keep abreast with the many projects I'm involved in-writing and otherwise. I'm all for creating charts and check lists to help my aging brain keep everything in its rightful place.


I know writers come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties, but I think we must all develop some system for keeping track of our projects. Otherwise we get confused, befuddled, and dingy. We make mistakes. Then, we look unprofessional. Writing is, after all, a profession. At this time in my life it is MY profession.

So, I strive to do it as professionally as I can.

That means doing little things well. Things like following guidelines. VERY important.

A few months ago I finished a proposal for a children's PB which was an adaptation of the Biblical account of Creation. I worked on that thing every day for a couple of months. Polished, re-polished, triple-polished. At last I thought it was ready. This particular publisher takes email submissions with attachments. So I buffed up my to-the-point-but-courteous email, attached revision #46 of what I thought was the proposal, and hit SEND.

Five minutes later (or, perhaps I should say, 5 minutes too late) I realized that I had attached the wrong document. It was an understandable mistake, I tried to convince myself, but it was a huge one. The document I actually attached was the full ms instead of the proposal.

This publisher's guidelines say specifically "Do not send full manuscripts unless requested."

I grabbed a paper sack and took a few deep breaths. Then I emailed an apology to the editor with the correct attachment.

Faster than Spider Man swinging from skyscraper to skyscraper I received a reply. A courteous and professionally stated rejection.

Ouch! One tiny mistake and my name is probably doo-doo with that particular publisher.

Maybe, if I'd had a better system of naming my documents or filing my documents or organizing my documents I could have avoided that mistake. Maybe.

The human brain can concentrate on only one thing at a time. Even mine, as much as I hate to admit it. I'm not super-writer. I can not do 10 things at the same time and do them well.

But I can keep track of 10 things if I have a workable system in place. A list. A chart. A calendar. A schedule. A spreadsheet. A filing system. Or even 3 X 5 cards or file folders or something that keeps me accountable to myself. If I try to simply wing it, I'm bound to take a nose dive like my recent experience.

And my nose can take just so many dives before it's permanently bent out of shape.

If you have a chart, a list, a check list, a spreadsheet, etc. that you'd be willing to share with me please email me pronto! My nose is still a bit sore and I don't want to land on it anymore.

I have some simple submission tracking sheets I created and I'll be glad to share them with you by email. Just let me know if you prefer a pdf or a word doc.

Thanks, friends

6 comments:

WordWrangler said...

Oh Jean! I'm so sorry. I have done similar things in my submissions, too.

The Lord is gracious and full of mercy! He will fulfill the desires of your heart. He knows your desire is to please HIM!

I wish I had some fantastic organizational tool to help. I'm afraid that's not my forte (as you well know). :)

I can only think of thing that would fix all your submission woes:

AGENT. :)

love,
me

Kristi Butler said...

Oh my friend, I felt that blow with you. I'm so sorry. Just remember that God does have a plan...and He is in control. He will bless your obedience to His call.

Love you!

Pam Zollman said...

Hi Jean!

I'm so sorry to hear about the almost instant rejection -- my goodness, those hurt because you just know they didn't really read your manuscript. The good news is that your name isn't dodo there because they probably didn't pay any attention to your name. Editors get soooo many submissions that they can't remember every one. The ones they do remember are the ones that are absolutley so horrible that they're almost funny or else the ones that were soooo close that it hurt them to reject it. I KNOW that yours was not a horrible one. You are an excellent writer; just stay the course and keep submitting. Send that manuscript to another pulisher and keep writing. I'd also find (or write) another manuscript for the publisher that just rejected you. If you want to be published by them, then keep submitting manuscripts that you think will fit their needs. Your persistence will pay off. God is control and He can move mountains. If He can move mountains, then I know He can put your manscripts in the right hands.
Love,
Pam

Amy Tate said...

Ugh...I'm so sorry! I think email submissions are more difficult for THAT reason. When it's something I can hold in my hand, I feel like I can double check everything. I use querytracker. It's free and very well organized.

Cheryl Barker said...

Jean, I don't have any kind of fancy organizational system on my computer, but I do keep track of my submissions and queries. I keep a list of each -- listing the submission, date, and place/person submitted to & then have a column opposite for the reply. Not fancy, but it works for me.

Blessings!

Janet, said...

I'm so sorry. I think publishers could be a little more understanding