Tuesday, 27 October 2015

A visit from womagwriter Della Galton

Today's guest is Della Galton and she's talking about a very important subject -Keeping track of your short stories

It is vital to keep track of where your stories are. You might think you’ll remember, but you won’t – trust me.

I keep paper records – although you might prefer to have electronic ones. It’s a quirk of mine – I spend so much time sitting in front of a screen that I like to have a break between stories and fill in a paper record – I find it more satisfying. I keep three lots of records.

1) A card index box. Each story has its own card and they’re filed in alphabetical order. The story title and number of words is at the top of the card. Beneath that, I write a list of markets to where I’m intending to send the story, plus the date of submission and return and any comments the editor might make. If more than one editor makes the same comment, for example, this is contrived, or predictable, then I’ll rewrite the story. I might do it on one such comment unless I feel strongly otherwise.

2) I keep an A4 sheet, headed up with my markets, see example. (This shows at a glance, how many stories out where and how long they’ve been there). When a story is sold or rejected I cross it out. When the sheet is full I use a new one.

Woman’s weekly
My weekly
Take a Break
People’s friend
Fast Fiction
The weekly news
title and date
title and date
title and date
title and date
title and date
title and date
title and date
Title, date and market

3) I also keep a monthly sheet with my work completed on it, see example. I find that seeing exactly what work I’ve done motivates me. It’s all too easy to let weeks slip by with nothing actually having been sent out.

Market aimed
Market achieved
5 Oct



12 Oct



19 Oct



26 Oct




4) I’ve just realised there’s actually a fourth set of records. I list all the stories I write on a separate sheet with dates, just so I can keep an annual tally. It’s quite good fun filling in the market achieved section and means I can keep an accurate record of percentage sold. It also means I can analyse which markets I sell the most to in any given month or year.

Date paid
Total earned












As you can see I’m obsessed with records!

It’s only strictly necessary to keep one set of records and that’s where your work is, when it was sent and when it was returned or bought. I’d be interested to hear what everyone else does. It might save me some time. 

If you’d like to know more about writing and selling short stories please check out my writing book, The Short Story Writer’s Toolshed. It’s only 99p for kindle till Friday. A bargain if I do say so myself! Here’s the link.


Della G said...

Thank you for having me, Patsy. I think I must be even more nuts than I thought, tee hee. Maybe everyone else has sensible record keeping systems and are scratching their heads in amazement!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Loved reading about your record keeping, Della! I also prefer a paper record but I use a chunky little notebook for the main submissions record. I first have to divide it into all the types of writing I do: short stories, articles, poetry, childrens, novels then give each title its own page in the relevant section with notes of submission dates.

I also use a pretty A5 notebook which I continuously run through the years (till it runs out of space!) and just start a new page for a new year. In this, I keep a running list of everything sent out and its result - so that's like a quick-glance record of that year's submissions.

Jan Baynham said...

This is such an great blog post, Patsy and Della. Thank you both. I enjoyed reading about how you record and track your submissions, Della - so much more interesting than my table in a Word doc. :-)

Della G said...

That's a good idea, Rosemary. It struck me that I should do that once. But I never have quite got round to changing. Also a spreadsheet would work well. But I do like the paper.
A table on a word doc sounds great too, Jan. I guess it's whatever works for us.

Patsy said...

I use a spreadsheet to keep track of submitted work. It sounds boring, but I've added in an eleborate colour coding system.

Della G said...

Colour coding - now you're talking, Patsy :)

Julie Day said...

It was your book on writing and selling short stories that got me started tracking my stories. I have similar ones to you now. Try to keep it up to date. Don't think I will do Patsy's colour coding as that is too much to remember to do.

Julie Day said...

Forgot to say, I also have a spreadsheet of contacts and info about each womag eg their word counts and any other useful info they have about their guidelines like to include your address etc at the end, which TWN asks for.

Della G said...

I love your idea about the spreadsheet of contacts too, Julie. Very organised :)

Julie P said...

Great post Della. Thank you! I think a good reason to keep records alongside the main one of keeping track of where your short stories are and sales/rejections is that you can also see how far you have come along your own personal writing journey. It's so easy to forget where we all started - tentatively sending that first story out there.

I have two records on my computer: I have a table for each month of the year with the numbers 1-4 down the side.This is how many short stories I am to write, edit & submit each month. Across the top I put the date, story reference number, story title, where it was sent and when, yes or no as to whether they've been accepted or not and any comments - where it's going next.

I also have a 'master' table where all the stories are put so, like you, Della, I can get my stats for the year. Having said that, I'm not the most meticulous at filling it in!

Robin said...

What great ideas!

Anonymous said...

This is what I need to get fixed in my head and log down what goes where. Often I've got a story and I daren't send it to W.W for example as I'm not sure if it's been there or not. If I kept better records, I'm sure it would give me more chance of being published. I'm such a lazy so and so, it's in the post and then I plan to log it later and never do. From now on, records will be kept. My spreadsheet is hit and miss. I'm a pen and paper person as well. Great post, thanks both. I've got the toolshed on kindle, and the short story blue book on my bookcase. No excuses:)))

Tassie Devil said...

Hi Della,
Always great to hear about how pthers do things.
I use a double entry spreadsheet which is again colour coded. Sales are in bright yellow to boost my confidence.
Sheet 1 is story, date submitted, where to and result/
Sheet 2 is similar to one of yours - story title on the vertical, magazine title on the horizontal with the submission dates on the other boxes. When submitted it is in white, when rejected in blue and when sold in yellow.
It's all backed up every time and on a memory stick once a month.
I feel you need the double entry to cross check if you miss an entry. As you say, it's a practical necessary if you are serious about tracking subs.
Thanks for sharing.