Manuscript Tracking Software

I’m on the hunt for a useful piece of software that tracks the progress of my submissions to publishers: magazines, online publications, etc. So far, I haven’t found much. I wonder if any of you folks have ever encountered a useful tool for that task.

Here are the criteria I have in mind for such a piece of software.

  • keep a copy/shortcut of the cover letter
  • link to (online) submission criteria, if any
  • store submission criteria notes
  • reference to the document i submitted (on my computer)
  • contact info for the publisher
  • remind me to follow up (via email if possible?)
  • useful for different types of submission: story, poem, etc.
  • sort submissions by status (accepted, rejected, stage of progress…)
  • easy/fast to use

If you’re interested, I’ve put together a sloppy little notebook of the stuff I’ve found so far. Most of it seems like it was created in 1986.


* keep a copy/shortcut of the cover letter

Scrivener sounds good for that.

* link to (online) submission criteria, if any

Just pop in to References on your criteria notes (below), and link away.

* store submission criteria notes

A top-level Binder item, for sure.

* reference to the document i submitted (on my computer)

Scrivener internal linking! Or just references again if you used some other writing program.

* contact info for the publisher

Index card tacked up to a corkboard with a… pin. Hmm.

* remind me to follow up (via email if possible?)

Well, okay that one might be better in Remind, or iCal.

* useful for different types of submission: story, poem, etc.

And law documents, too.

* sort submissions by status (accepted, rejected, stage of progress…)

Ooo, labels.

* easy/fast to use


Okay, but more seriously. You might try broadening your search to some more generalised software, rather than something specifically for manuscript submission. I bet there are a lot of programs out there, aimed at businessPeopleTypes that would work wonderfully for this, because they do a lot of “delegate this out and follow up on–” type stuff. Just a thought.

I would use Tinderbox for this, personally (which is quite in line with the FileMaker suggestion – both in price and learning curve).

You know, Filemaker is pretty damned good. If they somehow integrated outlining and started designing solutions for creative markets instead of always being so bloody business oriented, I bet they could open up a huge new market.

The fiddling/procrastinating possibilities it provides are endless. :slight_smile:


I also forgot to add that I’m one of those icky windows users… :frowning:

yes, the fiddling. very important :slight_smile:

Filemaker does have a “Creative Pro” version. I’m looking into whether it has a demo, and I’ll keep you all posted on any results.

Let me just say that all this bloody moral superiority of mac users re windows is getting tiresome. I have to admit that every time I look at the windows environment my whole pattern recognition engine goes haywire. But that’s my problem; I imagine windows users are seeing something else entirely. The medium may be the message, but the interface also creates it’s own comfortable reality for everyone. We humans can get used to anything I suspect…bla bla bla…


This is off topic, but, @ Eiron…

For me, it isn’t really a problem of pattern recognition. I’ve been a mac user since I was a little kid (back in the days of OS 6). I just don’t happen to be able to afford the luxury car of operating systems. That’s all. As for the differences between the two, it seems more to me like the difference between similar, related languages, like Modern English and Early Modern English. They pronounce everything very differently, the mecahnics are quite different, but at the end of the day, they seem to be saying the same basic thing.

I long for the day when my interaction with a computer has very much less to do with what I’m looking at, some metaphor for a hierarchy of commands, and more to do with my direct commands themselves. I’m a writer, a verbal person. “Computer: do this task” not “computer: the document I would like you to present (the task) is located in a subdirectory of a directory on a hard drive”

Actually, now that I look at it, you can do every single one of the things you specify in Filemaker and quite easily, too. There are a couple where a brief visit to your local Filemaker geek would save you some time but not all that much.

You should also realize that there are thousands of applications built on Filemaker that don’t really glow on the web radar screen. The Filemaker-provided solutions pale in comparison to the sophistication of some of the independent developers. Somewhere on the Filemaker site they have a listing or links to listings of Filemaker-based applications. You might try there before you try to roll your own.



I’m having trouble finding that "Somewhere on the Filemaker site they have a listing or links to listings of Filemaker-based applications. "

Also, Filemaker is a bit bloated (and expensive) to be using it for just one database, don’t you think?


Perhaps so. It is by far the most user-friendly of the commercial databases however.

Another possibility is Daylite

At $149 for the single-user version it may still be too steep for you but it will do absolutely everything you wish (and 3245 others that you didn’t know you needed).


I’m still tinkering with a FileMaker solution, but in the meantime here’s what I can share about my experience with various writing submission tools. These are the good ones, in my opinion, although none of them hit the bullseye for me.

sorry, NOW that link works.

Personally, I would love to see a FileMaker based application for keeping track of my submissions. Currently, I’m using a Windows based product called “Write Again!” ( But, it’s not been updated since 2004, and I would love to see a Mac based solution.

Being a hard core FileMaker developer myself, I’ve considered writing a solution for this. But I’m so busy with other projects and writing, that I just haven’t had the time to devote to it. I would gladly pay for a FileMaker based product that did the same though. (hint) :wink:

Wouldn’t a simple spreadsheet work? Or is there something you’re wanting the tracking program to do that you can’t do in a table/list format?

Otherwise, it sounds like Circus Ponies’ Notebook would fill the bill.

You can set it up to send alerts to iCal, which I find very useful, along with a lot of other nice features.

Hey dylan_k

Do you use a Palm? Some of the databases offered for it would cover the DB need and include PC Desktop input. Butt ugly interfaces on the PC but usable for the Palm.


Another way of approaching this is to use project management software, such as Merlin (available at: ). It’s not a cheap option, at €145, but if you have any project management needs as well, it’s a possibility.

I have just given this a quick try with an out-of-date version of Merlin (couldn’t bring myself to pay €75 to upgrade to v2 such a short time after I forked out for v1, but my purchase date fell outside the cut-off for free upgrade). You can set up a new project and customise it with all your “writing” flags, status etc - that way, you record exactly what you want to record, suited to your own working habits and to your particular sector; you still get a fair amount of extraneous project-y headings etc, but it’s easy to ignore that.

Merlin links in with iCal (so you can send reminders) and Address Book, and you can link documents on your hard drive to items in the project list. If you create each article (or whatever) as a separate activity, you can record events (such as phone calls), documents, costs etc against each article, but you can still see the overall progress of your entire writing output.

A particular beauty of this solution is that you can output all the project data (including contact info, deadlines, overdue tasks, links to associated documents etc) on a web page on your hard drive (or elsewhere, presumably), allowing you to see the status of things at a glance.