written by David Steffen
Assuming I’ve figured out how to attach files to a post, you should be able to download a database I’ve put together for the purpose of keeping track of story submissions. DOWNLOAD IT HERE, share it, use it how you want. I’d appreciate it if you would let people know where you got it, and send links to others, but I’m not requiring that. I made the database in OpenOffice‘s Base program (which you can download for free). It’s saved in ODB (Open Database Format) so I think you should be able to open it in other programs as well, though I haven’t tested that
Why shouldn’t you just use Duotrope’s submissions tracker program, you ask? There’s no reason you can’t. I use Duotrope‘s submissions tracker, and I use them to find markets. They’re an awesome site, absolutely. I also have been using an Excel spreadsheet for years for tracking, because I can customize it to exactly what I want. But I have it rigged up to provide lots of extra information besides just listing story submissions, and the way that I’ve done it has made it very cumbersome to update and created a very large file. It’s trying to do the work of a database without being in a database format, so it’s time to make something new. A few reasons why I like to keep a tracker of my own, separate from Duotrope’s:
-Duotrope’s tracker shows me stats of all their submitted users. But sometimes I want to see just stats of my own personal submissions.
-Data redundancy is good. The more places data is stored, the less chance you’ll lose it entirely. If I lost my submissions information, that would be a big problem. I’ve accrued more than 500 rejections and there’s no way I can keep track of which stories have been to which markets.
-If I make something myself I can make it fully customizable.
I could use your help!
The submissions database is fully functional for the minimum a database needs. There are tables to hold the data and forms to make entry into the database easy and quick. But what I really want to do is set up certain selective queries which can produce a list of those things that fit the query. And I have been having trouble figuring out how to set that up in OpenOffice. If anyone can do this, I’d appreciate any advice you can give me for setting this up in OpenOffice, or advice on another application that might suit this purpose better. Or, even better, if someone could take the database from this post and add some or all of these features and post here to let me know about it I would be much obliged. When I have something that works better I intend to post it here again, and I’ll give credit where credit is due. Thanks already to Anthony Sullivan, my co-editor, for some help with databases already.
In the finished product I’d like to be able to retrieve answers to one or all of the following questions quickly and easily:
1. List all submissions that involved story A (Story A input by user).
This is the only one I’ve managed so far, using “subforms” in the OpenOffice form Wizard.
2. List all stories I’ve submitted to magazine A (Magazine A input by user).
I’ve sort of managed this, but instead of listing story titles, it just lists story index, which is not good enough.
3. List all pending submissions.
Again, this needs to list story title, not the story index.
4. List all magazines with basic response time stats about each.
Probably just min response time, average response time, max response time.
5. List all magazines I can submit story A to (story A input by user).
–ordered by pay level, excluding ignored magazines, excluding closed magazines, excluding magazines that I’ve submitted this story to, excluding magazines that don’t accept any of the genres that story is listed as, exclude magazines that don’t allow this length of story, excluding magazines I already have a pending submission with (unless that magazine is listed as “multiple”).
Yeah I know it’s complicated, but it would be very useful.
6. List all stories I can submit to magazine A (Magazine A input by user).
–exclude stories I’ve sold unless market allows reprint, exclude stories that I’ve submitted to that market, exclude trunked stories, exclude stories pending elsewhere, exclude stories that don’t fit the magazine’s genre, exclude stories that don’t fit in the length guidelines.
Again, complicated but useful.
How to use it
It’s very easy to use. You should only need to use the three forms explained below to keep track of submissions. As explained in the last section, I want to have some more sections for getting certain kinds of data and lists from the database, but for the time being it is already a fully functional submissions database.
Magazine: This is how you enter in magazines/publishers that you submit to. The attached file has the professional markets as listed by SFWA to which I have submitted. It’s easy to add new markets here whenever you want. Most of the entries here are optional. The magazine is the key value.
Story: This is where you enter each story for which you want to track submissions. Again, most of the values are optional. The key value is a hidden index value to allow you to change a story name even after it’s entered.
Submission: This is where you can enter each individual submission. The key value here is three parts: Magazine name, story index, and submission date. When you send a story out, you can fill in the magazine name, story index, and submission date, and choose “Pending” from the submissions status. When you hear back, fill in the reply date and change the submission status to whatever is appropriate.