An excerpt from the Freelance Writer’s Toolkit.

When doing freelance writing work or when submitting your written work to various publications, it becomes very easy to lose track of what was sent where and to whom. Here is an easy way to keep track of all those queries by using Microsoft Excel or a similar spreadsheet.

OPEN YOUR SPREADSHEET and give it a title. I title mine Queries.

CREATE DIFFERENT FOLDERS for different kinds of queries. I use five separate folders titled Contests, Freelance, Magazine, Online and Other. Creating separate folders simply makes tracking your queries that much easier.

DECIDE WHAT IMPORTANT INFORMATION YOU NEED TO KEEP TRACK OF in your Query spreadsheet. I track the following details of a query: Name of publication, Contact information, Type of query (email, phone, or snail mail), date query was sent and Other. The Other column is for any other pertinent information.

TRACK ANSWERS YOU RECEIVE to your queries by highlighting in different colors. For example, you can use yellow for queries that have been sent but have not been answered and green for queries that have been answered and given the green light. You get the idea.

ADD A COLUMN FOR NOTES. This column becomes very useful when talking to an editor on the phone or through email because you can refer back to the dates and times you have spoken with the editor before.

KEEP COPIES OF YOUR QUERY SPREADSHEET so that you can double-check to see if you have submitted to a certain venue before and what their answer was.

UPDATE YOUR SPREADSHEET on at least a weekly basis.

BACK IT UP! Don’t forget to back up your work frequently!

TRACK IT ONLINE. Use an online query tracker like Duotrope to track submissions or try this online Writer’s Tracking Tool.

Order the Freelance Writer’s Toolkit for more help with starting and running a successful business.