There must be something better than a rolodex in my head
June 29, 2016 5:24 AM   Subscribe

Writers, how do you keep track of your submissions? Or versions of your work? Can you share some tips on how to be organised with your files?

On versions:
I write all my work in my notebook before I type them up in Word docs. A fair amount of revision already happens on the page, and I just type the latest version. Then of course that version gets revised later on.

I usually name my files this way: YYYY-MM-DD Title, but I didn't realise the mess it would make, of trying to find the exact work as my files are arranged by dates. Should I just make it Title_YYYY-MM-DD so that it would be easier to see how many versions of a work I've had, and when they were made? But I really like the order of dates because it lets me see what I've accomplished in a month or year. What could be a good compromise?

On submissions:
I have a folder where I group submitted works, then sub-folders with filenames like these: YYYY • Name of Publication. Then each sub-folder contains the DOC and PDF files of my submission, plus possibly screenshots or whatever else info related to it.

I also keep a Trello board where I have separate cards, i.e. "Submissions," "Prompts," "Missed Opportunities" (where I move submissions whose deadlines I missed). Then I use labels to tag if a submission was rejected, received, under review, or accepted. Is that enough organisation? How do you keep track of yours? Can you share some tips? Or should I just be content that my Submittable account is keeping track of all my stuff?

Other things:
I'm a bilingual poet, so I have a folder for English works, and another folder for my native language. When I type up a poem, it's just one file for one poem—that's my usual method. However, when I'm working on a manuscript, I make a folder with the manuscript's title as the filename, then inside it there's a "mother" file which is the compilation of all the poems included, and then the single poem file. Is that too much unecessary work, do you think?

I'm working on a Mac, if that helps. Are there apps I should be using? And the above organisation strategy (if you can call it that!) is a hybrid of sorts from my work as a graphic designer (where I have better control of my files, i.e. group by assets, billables, drafts, final files, etc).

Am interested to hear from other poets, but everyone else is welcome to chime in, really.
posted by pleasebekind to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not sure if my approaches will work for you, as I do very different writing to you, but a couple of things that might help:

I used to use Trello/MeisterTask to track articles but I couldn't find a way to make them searchable by different statuses. For instance, I want to be able to see all the articles I haven't sent invoices for yet, all the ones that are published but haven't been included in my weekly newsletter yet, and so on. I also tried the app Airtable but didn't like it. I ended up just using a grid paper notebook to track this stuff.

For version control, several Markdown editors for Mac include version control automatically. iA Writer is one. Focused is another. You could also try using Penflip, which is a web app that manages versions for you. I generally use Focused or iA Writer if I need to go back to an old version, but that rarely happens.
posted by bellebethcooper at 6:00 AM on June 29, 2016


I use GitHub for versioning word documents (it isn't just for code, and you can have private repositories that no one but you can see). There's a bit of a learning curve, but most of the discussion of GitHub as "hard" you'll see is specific to teams using GitHub for code (figuring out how to merge, roll back, pick among many different versions of many people's contributions to a single set of code can get gnarly). Here's a good piece with more info. Good search terms: GitHub for writers, for non-coders, for creative writing, for authors.
posted by rollcredits at 6:17 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's an online database called Duotrope that I signed up with - it's subscription-based, but the subscription is only five bucks a month. It gives you a submission log on your profile, but also lets you do searches for markets as well - and also lets you report on each market and their response rate (so when Hello Giggles gave me the silent treatment for four straight months, even after I reminded them of my submission, I could rat them out on Duotrope so other writers could be warned).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:47 AM on June 29, 2016


I usually name my files this way: YYYY-MM-DD Title, but I didn't realise the mess it would make, of trying to find the exact work as my files are arranged by dates. Should I just make it Title_YYYY-MM-DD so that it would be easier to see how many versions of a work I've had, and when they were made? But I really like the order of dates because it lets me see what I've accomplished in a month or year. What could be a good compromise?

Word keeps track of the date you last saved the document, so if you title your work Title_YYY-MM-DD, you can still choose to look in your folder and sort by date to have a view of what you touched that month.
posted by LKWorking at 7:23 AM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Tracking subs: I write SFF, and I use the free portal Submission Grinder (kind of like a free Duotrope) to track my submissions. They do a pretty good job.

Versioning: When I submit, or have a draft I want to version for whatever reason, I save the submitted version as [story title] [any distinctive features] [date]. Then again, I do this in Google Docs, which also has automatic version control. But I still do my own "tagging" in my versions because hell if I remember what's different day-to-day.
posted by aperturescientist at 7:41 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have a folder for the work (eg, "Tree story"). In there I'll put:
1. The actual work. Each version gets the title amended with each update, eg, Tree story-first revision 1-16; Tree story-fourth revision 4-16; Tree story-final proofs 7-16.
2. A subfolder for any research/clips: Tree story-conifer research; Tree story-cut text
3. A subfolder for the submission, eg, "Tree story-New Yorker submission" and "Tree story-New Yorker cover letter"
4. A subfolder for rejections, where I'll drag contents from the submissions subfolder as I go
5. A subfolder for acceptances--a scan or pdf of the published version!

This helps me keep track of what version I want to be working on and what's currently submitted somewhere.
posted by TwoStride at 11:30 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Thanks, @TwoStride, I'll try this approach.

Thanks as well for the other suggestions re: keeping track of submissions. Duotrope seems interesting but I don't have the budget for it yet.

As for version control I thought about tracking the changes, either via Word doc or Google Doc, but I much prefer that the new edited version of the poem is on a new file so I have the option of putting the old vs the new side-by-side. Because sometimes revisions might lead to new poems, and so on.
posted by pleasebekind at 11:29 PM on July 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


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