Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lit Bizz

I love writing, finding a way to solve the puzzle that each piece of fiction or each poem presents. Sometimes I even like the business of writing. For those starting out, the prospect of tracking submissions, avoiding simultaneous subs, sending out bios, all of that, seems like so much nuisance. It's not. It's the professional side of being a writer. It's owning a handful of three-ring binders for storing hard copy of everything. It will only take one stolen or dead computer to make you believe in paper. It helps to backup your computer too. Recently I switched laptops and thank heaven for having put my files on a "thumb thing" in order to transfer all that work to the new computer.

And when that wonderful acceptance letter or email comes, I have learned the hard way to keep it safe. I have a short story that was accepted a year ago. I moved, off loaded a bunch of paper, and lost the acceptance. Now I'm thinking about the day when I might compile a book of short fiction, but I have no way to fully acknowledge, or confirm, that publication. I cannot in good conscience list this work as forthcoming or recently published, because like the CSI team, I want hard evidence. This gap in my records nags at me. It would be much better to have stapled that letter to the first page of the story. My submissions spreadsheet just has too little room for full details.

Keeping track of poems is a different process. Because I send poems out in groups, I don't keep a spreadsheet on them. I paperclip them together with a sticky note telling me which publication has that submission packet. And I keep these poems in a magazine file, along with upcoming market calls and contests. It all takes time, but less and less as I refine the process. I'd love to hear how others manage the lit bizz side of writing.

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