X is for eXcel

Artwork by Tom Torre (@CopernicusNerd)

Artwork by Tom Torre (@CopernicusNerd)

By Dawn Frederick

This is a warning, OCD Dawn is about to enter the blog post. Yes, we’re going to discuss the computer program Excel and why every writer should be prepared to implement this tool.

Spreadsheets have been around for over 30 years, with Excel entering our lives in 1987. 26 years later, we’re still using them in some format or another.

Hence the question, why should I (the author) use Excel? Here are a few reasons:

1. Track your submissions: Anyone on the receiving end of queries will confirm that some writers send the same query (without any changes) multiple times. There are even times when an author sends the same query multiple times in a day (or week).

To avoid this mistake, take the time to set up a spreadsheet where the names of agents, dates queried, titles, etc. during the query process. Make sure to track every response, as this will help in improving one’s idea, while also seeing the reasons for rejections received.

2. Schedule C: Writing usually isn’t the most profitable business, unlike the .com startups, being on a reality show, and more. The best way to maintain one’s writing career is to be aware of the tax breaks. This includes submitting a Schedule C with one’s annual income taxes.

Are you getting paid to write? Then it’s equally essential to track one’s expenses as well. An Excel spreadsheet is a great way to track one’s writerly expenses. This includes supplies for doing the job, the cost to take classes and attend conferences, and more.

3. Setting goals as a writer: One of the biggest challenges (besides writing) is developing a platform, i.e. reading audience. The options are endless. Using a spreadsheet to determine which social media tools to use, along with dates and specific tasks, will make the process smoother. Additionally, here at Red Sofa, Laura used this system to get ready for NANO, so that we each knew when posts were due, along with the official posting dates. For those moments when one needs a little direction, the spreadsheet easily provides it.

Of course there are many options for spreadsheet programs, the most important thing is that any writer wanting to navigate publishing tracks what s/he is doing. Focusing on these small details will have good consequences; in short, your writing career will appreciate it.



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1 Comment

  1. MRS N, the Author on November 27, 2013 at 10:10 am

    I love Excel and I use it for tracking my query submissions. It allows me to keep track of when I send it, how long it takes and the agent I queried. This is essential for all querying writers because you NEVER want to accidentally query two agents from the same agency. Bad things can happen aka mass hysteria, dog and cats living together, etc. 😉

    Excellent idea for using Excel for a writing schedule. I will have to implement that.

    Thank you, as always, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and everyone at Red Sofa Literary. 🙂