Tag Archives: novel submission spreadsheet

Kicking Myself (Working as Intended)


I thought things were going to calm down in the wake of the musical, but no, life is still zipping along like that length of chain hanging off the back of a semi going down the freeway, striking sparks and scaring the hell out of everybody in the vicinity.

The house is up for sale, and every now and then we have to drop what we’re doing and go somewhere else for a half hour at a time.

I’m back to work on the novel project, which comes with its own particular well of all-consuming gravity.

Then there’s standard end-of-the-school-year stuff: meetings and grading and panicked students banging on your door and the parade of deadlines and activities leading up to summer.

And, oh yeah, let’s not forget the unceasing face-palmery of the current scene in politics, from which there is no hiding, only the sweet release of occasional naps.

It’s the perfect storm of Things To Keep Me From Doing Things Tedious And Easy To Forget, which is exactly what I’ve been doing. Luckily, a few months ago, I created a tool to give myself a good kick in the donk every now and then: my Story Submission Spreadsheet.

There I was, checking my e-mail and firing up the ol’ computer for a perusal of the day’s events ahead of a thirty-minute work session on the novel (that’s about all I can muster these days, alas — and I have to defend it with the wrath of a cornered honey badger), when my spreadsheet automatically opened in my second tab. And there, in bright, glaring red font, was a badge of shame — the day count since my last submission. 36 days. Over a month.

Yuck.

I grimaced and bit my tongue and made to close the browser window … then didn’t. Instead, I reached for my 2017 Guide to Literary Agents.

A quick dive into the listings later, and I’ve got another query out there in the world, another chance for my work to see the light of day, another chance to share some of my blather with some unsuspecting reader somewhere else in the country.

Which is exactly what I intended the tool to do. Shame me into action.

Last time life piled up like this, I went for, oh, I dunno, maybe six months before it occurred to me that my novel was gathering dust waiting to be submitted again … which shields me from rejection letters, sure, but which definitely isn’t moving me any closer to where I want to be.

So. For once, planning ahead and sinking in a bit of time on the front end pulled my back end out of a slump.

Now if I could simply get struck with a bolt of inspiration to help me untie the knots in this chapter of my novel, things would be … well, not great, but maybe a little less stressful.


Novel/Short Story Submission Spreadsheet


I was looking for a tool to track my novel submissions today, and I stumbled on this nifty little spreadsheet hacked together by Matt Bell. But I’m one of those guys who likes my stuff just so, and you know, with a little bit of color to keep my tiny brain interested. So I tweaked it and added a couple little things.

A nice feature of Matt’s sheet is a counter that tabulates how long your submission has been in a particular agent’s (or publisher’s) slush pile — it tallies days until you put in a response date. Handy, but a bit dry.

So I added color-coding for the days your piece has been out for submission: Less than 2 months, green (I’d consider that an “active” submission), 2-4 months, yellow (still active but getting dusty), 4+ months, red (probably mostly dead and time to resubmit). This gives you a nice idea at a glance for how many “active” subs you have out.

I also added a “days since last submission” counter, also color-coded, which goes yellow after two weeks and red after a month — a sharp, at-a-glance indicator for whether you might want to send out some fresh subs.

Mmm, subs.

Writing Spreadsheet

All the bells and whistles should work for up to 150 submissions. In the spirit of Matt’s offering, I’ve made the end result downloadable and shareable, in the hopes you might find it useful.

And it’s all on the ubiquitously useful and convenient GoogleDocs, so, you know.

You can find it here.


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