I once submitted a novel to the same agent twice. I forgot I’d already sent it to him and was embarrassed to get two rejections letters within a couple of days of each other. Not very professional. That humiliating moment taught me I needed a system to track submissions. Every writer needs a system. Here are a few that work.
Online tracking: Author Advance, formally Litmatch offers a free online service to track submissions. The only drawback to this system is it only tracks agents and agencies and only those in it’s database. Still it’s a good system.
Excel: Setting up a table in Excel to track submissions is a good method if you know how to work with tables. Column heading can include these: Date submitted, Work submitted, Agent or Publisher, Materials sent, Answer, Additional Materials sent.
MS Outlook: If you have MS Outlook or a similar program, this is a good way to track submissions. Set up a contact for each agent and publisher you submit to. You can keep track of these by placing them in a new contact folder called submissions. You can also make subfolders for each project. The contact info has a note section where you can add any info you want. To keep track of answers, you can set up color coded categories. Submission pending would be yellow, additional material or acceptance would be green, and rejections would be red. You can add in the note section whether it was a form rejection or if they had advice for further reference. You can even add a flag to follow up on submissions after a certain amount of time.
MS Word: You can have a page in Word for each project. Each paragraph has information about someone you want to submit to and what materials you’re submitting. Color code each agent or publisher by using the text highlight color. You can get as elaborate with this as you want by not only tracking the submissions through different colors, but by tracking first, second, and third choices for submitting before you send out any material. One advantage to this method is all information about each project is in one document. Another is you can add as many notes as you want without limiting it to an Excel table box.
If you have some ideas for tracking submissions that have worked for you and aren’t listed here, please share them in the comments.