Using Software to Track Submissions: Part 3 – Desktop Submission Tracking Software
Although using a simple spreadsheet to track submissions can be perfectly adequate, the seams can start to unravel as you build up more and more entries. There are several good, free programs that can help you track not only your submissions but also prospective markets and the fate of your work from inception to publication. Because these programs are designed for writers (and usually by writers), they tend to anticipate quite well the specific needs of writers and their work.
Sonar comes from SpaceJock Software, which also produces the yWriter novel-writing program. It runs on all Windows systems, though Vista users should pay special attention to his instructions for Vista — unless you want to fuss with permissions every time you run Sonar, you need to install it to your individual “Documents” folder. There are also instructions to get it running on Linux.
Slushomatic allows you to store documents directly in the program and create and store cover letters with them. When it comes time to send a manuscript, Slushomatic generates formatted, ready-to-print PDF files that can be opened and printed in Adobe Acrobat (or my preference, Foxit Reader), or attached to email for markets that accept electronic submissions. Because it’s written in Java, it should run on any computer that runs Java — Windows, Mac, or Linux.
Writer’s Database was written by writer Simon Kewin, and is the simplest of the three. It’s Windows only, and you most likely have to download and install the VB6 Runtime files (there’s a download link on the site).
All three work basically the same. Each offers three views: Markets, Submissions, and Manuscripts (or some variation of each). In each view, selecting “add new ___” opens a form to add information to. All three are linked, so that when you are creating a new submission, for example, the markets appear in a drop-down. Or when you’re looking at a manuscript, you can easily see which markets it’s been submitted to and what the current status is.
There is really no objective way to rank any of these over the other two. All are well-written and time-tested, so they work well. Each has its own little quirks that will appeal to some users and turn off others? Since all three are free, why not download them all and see which one works best for you?