This week, I switched how I track my writing submissions from Duotrope to Airtable and I love it so far.
Duotrope is a paid website sharing statistics on literary magazine and publisher submissions. It helps you track where you have submitted. I’ve had a Duotrope subscription for about six months and found it valuable for getting started in the publishing world. I’d recommend checking it out (and please look for a 30 day trial promo code).
Why I liked Duotrope:
- They provide a range for how long it may take a lit mag to respond. These estimates have been eerily accurate for me.
- They show how selective the magazine may be
- They share what other mags people have submitted to
Why I decided to switch from Duotrope to a custom spreadsheet in Airtable:
- Duotrope focuses on lit mags and publishers. Some mainstream or niche outlets I was considering were not listed
- Duotrope doesn't track pitches, only submissions
- I was finding lit mags on Twitter or based on recommendations instead of searching through Duotrope’s database
- I wanted to customize the information I stored about pitches and submissions and was hoping for a better way to visualize my progress
Airtable is friendly online spreadsheets on steroids. Their essential feature is the ability to link one thing to another in your records. In Airtable, I created separate tables for Pieces, Publications, Editors, and Submissions. I linked all of these together to represent what pieces I have submitted to which publications. Airtable has a free plan which is sufficient for what I'm using it for.
My Submissions table is where I pull together most of the information, using the following fields:
- Summary (for example, “Rejected by My Favorite Mag”)
- Status (Rejected/Accepted/In progress)
- Piece (this links to the Pieces table where I have more information about the type of piece)
- Date submitted
- Date response received
I could see my lit mag submissions had taken a nosedive, which was not obvious from my memory or by looking in Duotrope. Sorting by Date Submitted showed me I submitted several pieces to various publications in April, but submitted almost nothing in May and June. I was waiting for responses to come in during those months, which felt like I was doing something, but I actually wasn’t working on the submissions part of my funnel.
I also created a sheet in Airtable to store interesting calls for pitches and submissions. An easy-to-scan list (with clickable URLs) is far more effective than keeping approximately one zillion browser tabs open.
I’m psyched my new record-keeping system (wow, doesn’t that sound fun) tracks pitches. This is the inspiration I need to reach out to more editors.