One of the most embarrassing things that can happen to a writer is submitting a piece to a market that already rejected you. I mean, getting rejected once is bad enough as it is, but twice? From the same people? On the same piece? Now, not only do they not want it, but they're starting to question just how desperate/egotistical/insert adjective you are, subbing to them multiple times with this thing?
Well, those worries are ended (and for someone as paranoid as I am, it was a big worry) with Spacejock's Sonar Submission Tracker.
When you first open up Sonar, it can be a little intimidating. There's a touch of a learning curve to it, and the Manual that's provided is sometimes less than helpful, depending on what it is you need to do. But it's well worth the small amount of effort you put forward.
So let's go through it, just very quickly. The very first thing is to start a new file. Call it whatever you like. Mine is 'Submission Tracker.' Cut and dry, easy to find. Once you have that, you'll have this nice blank spreadsheet looking thing.
Now you load up your work(s), one at a time. This is where you can begin to see the first glimmer of hope—this program could rock. You go up to Works, click add, and enter in the vitals of each individual piece: the title, the word count, the genre, any description and comments you might have for it. You can even link to the actual file, right in here, so you can easily access it while you're going through Sonar. So, you set up MegaDoc, your novel about a robot crocodile that got infected by a corrupt Word file. It's all in there, and ready for step two.
Now you set up the markets. For the most part, your markets are probably going to just be the places you submit whatever pieces to, but if you have markets you submit to regularly, it wouldn't hurt to add them in. It's the same shtick for adding a market as it is to add a work. You go to the Markets tab, click Add, and begin. The name of the market, the editor, the guidelines, even all the contact information for them. And you've decided to submit MegaDoc to Corporate ArtSlayer Press, dedicated to wringing every bit of artistic merit out of their books before publication.
Again, we hit the tabs: Submission, Add. Then you pick your work, you pick your market, and you enter the date. Once you do that, it'll tell you exactly what's going on: MegaDoc <> 2014-08-22 <> Sent to Corporate ArtSlayer Press (Out 2 days). And it lets you see if you've sold it, too.
Now, this is where it becomes your safety net. Say that Corporate ArtSlayer doesn't take this genius manuscript, for whatever reason. Bad taste, most likely. It then sits there for a while as you mope and consider if you should maybe cut it down from 400,000 words. But then, as you're looking around one day, inspiration strikes: you should submit it. And you found the perfect press: Corporate ArtSlayer. So, you get ready to go and… wait… Sonar says I've subbed this to them already. Oh lordy lord, thank you for saving me, Sonar!
Now, there are other options for this, although I don't think any of them quite stack up to Sonar in usefulness. Duotrope, of course, has a submission tracking option for paying members, which also gives you access to the response data, something I very much miss. The Submission Grinder has the same exact setup, but they are A: still new, so not very well-known, and B: Free. It's a trade-off, really. Or, you could do what I did before I found Sonar: an Excel document or other spreadsheet. It works, but with Sonar being free, I'd say it's worth it.