Tuesday, January 7, 2014

" Gee whiz, Professor!"

Have you ever wondered how long it took Gilligan to get the Minnow completely lost?  Sure, we all know it was a three hour tour, but how long is that, really?

I'll tell you.  It's the amount of time it takes to travel 8 miles on I-95.

Am I suggesting that they were wrecked a mere 8 miles from where they were supposed to be?  You tell me... I don't know what traffic is like in Hawaii.  But something tells me I'd like to find out.  They aren't being sucked into the Polar Vortex of Doom like the rest of the country.

Speaking of Vortexes of Doom, I am getting a bit impatient for my next "acceptance letter."  This is taking a bit too long to transition from polite rejection to "here's some cash for your train ticket."  I currently have 7 or 8 pieces out for consideration.  I'm actually sort of thrilled that I don't recall the exact count without checking my roster.  A good friend put me on to the philosophy of a very successful and prolific author whose mantra was, "If I'm in the mail, I'm alive."

Of course, with lots of stuff in the mail, you have to track it.  Most editors don't like you to send the same story to more than one market at a time and none of them like to see the same story more than once -- without explicit invitation -- so it's vitally important that you remember where your pieces are and who has already seen them.

I use Excel for that.  I created the spreadsheet in Quattro Pro back in 2001 or 2002, and then converted it around 2004.  Back then it only had about 10 markets and a half dozen stories.  I would mark the grid with the date I sent the story to a specific market and color code it pending.  When the rejection came back I'd mark it... rejected.  When I had the one acceptance I marked that too, but since it was the only one for a decade, that was sort me being a bit, um, you know the word.

Now the spreadsheet has grown to a score of markets and an equal number of stories.  I've added markings for the markets that allow multiple submissions and another for rejections that were accompanied by comments.  It's getting a little convoluted.

I'm also a data hound.  I love data.  Can't get enough of it.  I look for trends in everything and while my desk may not be the most orderly (it isn't messy, exactly), I'm obsessive about organizing data.  I'm going to have to convert my roster to Access so that I can track more data points but still keep it organized.

Then, when I don't feel like writing prose, I can write queries that will tell me all sorts of statistics about my submission history and pretend that the insight is going to make me a better author.

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