Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 15, 2014

Tracking Submissions


erikaphoto-45Tracking Submissions

by Erika Wassell

Polished manuscript?

CHECK – one I’m proud of.


YUP – Found a few agents who are a perfect match.

Query Letter?

WRITTEN – Pitches my manuscript and myself.

There it is …


My finger hovers on the mouse. Hesitation. I KNOW this is a worthy story but maybe I shou—– ACK! I’m doing it!

CLICK. Message sent.

So that’s it right? Wave goodbye and cross my fingers?  Not exactly.

While I definitely support leaning back and letting out that breath you may have been holding, you still have another important step… tracking your submissions.

First, the top three reasons WHY:

1) So you don’t query the same agent without realizing it: How long to wait before submitting to an agent again is another topic. But you certainly don’t want to do it by accident! Repeat submissions can look very unprofessional.

2) Follow Up: For many agents, no response, means it’s not for them. But in the research stage, you may find others that say at a certain point, it’s okay to reach out. Following up at the appropriate time shows that you’re dedicated and serious.

3) In case you get a yes! The best reason of all!! If an agent or publisher is interested in your work, you will want to inform everyone else it’s currently out to. (A) Because it’s professional courtesy. And (B), it can drum up additional interest and lead to the sort of “bidding war” that every author dreams of!!

Okay. So what exactly do I track?

Here’s the HOW:

My suggestion is use Excel. It’s easy to set up, and gives me data that is simple to keep track of, look back through and actually use – more so than the stack of scribbled on pieces of paper that form an ever-growing precarious tower next to my computer.

Here are the eight column titles that I use when tracking submissions:

First come the four most obvious: 

Who: The name of the actual person I addressed the query letter to.

Where: The name of the agency/publisher, including its website for easy reference.

What: What manuscript did I send them?

When: Exact date that I hit the all-powerful SEND BUTTON.

       These next four are not as obvious, but they’re JUST as important! 

Why: A few notes about why the agent is a good fit for my manuscript, what interviews I read or what specific things made me query them.

Wait time: What their estimated timeline is. Most places give you an idea of how long it may take them to look over your query and whether or not they will necessarily respond. I note things like “no means no, 6-8 months” or “will respond within 10 weeks”.

Follow up: Often times, no response means not interested. But if I know someone is open to follow up, I make a note as to when to do that, and where I got the information. This way, in my follow up, I can say something like, “As per your interview with ____, I’m following up on the query I sent you three months ago.” IMPORTANT: When following up, I make absolutely sure that I don’t come off irritated. These agents work hard, and receive thousands of queries. I love when I’m able to follow up, so I make sure they know I appreciate the opportunity.

Response: If I get a rejection, or any sort of response, I make a note of when I got it and what was said.

It’s really just eight little columns in a spreadsheet, but it allows me to treat my writing professionally. I know what I’ve done, why I did it, and what I’m waiting on. And that’s really the best way to prepare for what I’ll do next.

When I hit that at-times-OH-so-unnerving SEND BUTTON, I’m comforted in knowing that my manuscript still has a tie to me, right here in my tracked submissions and is not just disappearing into the world of Ethernet cables and fiber optics.

I know your manuscripts deserve the same professional attention.

Thanks Erika for the valuable post. Erika has agreed to be a regular Guest Blogger for Writing and Illustrating.

Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Great information. I have a spread sheet I work from with my tracking too. 🙂 BUT I don’t include everything you have listed. GREAT idea.
    Thanks for the post!


  2. Nice to see you here again, Erika! I keep this information as well as a page by title that shows where the manuscript is – still in revision, out to sub and to whom. Creative minds can be organized. 🙂


  3. Great post, Erika! I like your organized system!


  4. Great post. Very helpful and perfect timing. Thanks!


  5. Great post, Erika-thanks! I’m off to open a new spreadsheet right now. As you say, notes on bits of paper are a *bad* idea 😉


  6. Great advice! Thanks, Erika.


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