Probably the most difficult thing I’ve found to track/wrap my head around is tracking multiple projects. This is new to me. In grad school, when I was writing multiple short stories all at once while working on my thesis, there still wasn’t all that much to track (mostly because there was one destination for these stories – my thesis). Currently, I’ve found myself in the position of having one book in the process of being published, two manuscripts ready to query, and two WIPs. I realize I’m fortunate to be in such a position – but sometimes, it’s just difficult to know where to put my focus. (Well, when my editor sends my book for edits, that’s obviously where my focus goes.) Part of the overwhelming feeling comes from the enormity of all of this. But like any large goal, we just need to break it down.
‘Query my manuscript’ can be broken down into a couple steps: 1) write query letter (which you will want to personalize to each agent), 2) write synopsis (several versions – I recommend 1 page, 2 page, 1000 words of or less – but be prepared that an agent may have another specification), 3) searching for possible agents, and then 4) submitting a specific number of queries each week.
Again, I use Excel to track agents I’ve submitted to (with headlines of the date I subbed, the agent’s name, agency, and email, what they request, and the URL to their agency page and/or MSWL or Agent Query page). When I submit, I fill the row in yellow. When I hear back, I change to red for rejection and green for a full request (and then to red when that’s rejected). It’s important to track the date you send your request – many won’t respond because of the volume they receive – so they may have a “if you don’t hear from me in X number of weeks, you can assume it’s a no.” Also, track the agency – some will request that you don’t sub to more than one agent at their agency at the same time. If the first rejects, though, you can sub another.
Small goals should also be feasible. A small goal is not “I’m going to sub fifty agents this week.” Maybe ten. Maybe five. Maybe fifteen. But fifty is a lot.
My plan is to spend this week searching for possible agents to query. Starting the following week, I’ll submit ten a week, five per manuscript.
The second part of goals is accountability. For me, it’s writing them down in my planner. Like I said last week, I’m the queen of to do lists. If I can get it down on paper, then I’m not having to hold it in my head as something to do. But also, it’s super satisfying for me (someone who works well with intrinsic motivation) to check it off when it’s accomplished.
As for the WIPs – again, the process here will be a personal one. Some people are “I write an hour every single day” people while others attempt a specific word count.
REPEAT AFTER ME: You do not have to write every single day in order to be a writer. Folks who tell me, “Oh, come on, you can find fifteen minutes somewhere” clearly have no idea what it’s like to be a teacher who has some weeks that are overloaded with grading, or that some folks just can’t work in fifteen minute increments. I have a writing day – Fridays. I don’t expect to write any other day, though it is a bonus if I do discover some unexpected time to sit and write. I write this day in my planner, too. I put up boundaries (I mark this entire day as busy on my work calendar, and I have it in my syllabus email policy that I don’t check email on this day). I make it a priority. I also don’t put requirements on my writing goals (which I know, I know – goals need to be measurable!). I don’t count minutes in the seat or words on the page. For some people, these things help keep them moving, which is great. But again – if it doesn’t work for you, then don’t force it.
There are many ways to track your projects. Mine go onto my to do lists in my bullet journal. I also have a small group of writing friends that meet every week who help hold me accountable when I share these goals with them. But you can use Excel (or another such program) to track minutes/words/submissions. Use a planner or notebook. Whatever works best for you and you can easily access. I just promise – getting it down and out of your head makes it all seem much more manageable.
One thought on “Tracking: Multiple Projects”
Great advice! I don’t have a very organized way for tracking my querying process, but I think I’ll start now!