Once your work space is set up, you need to organize subject matter, submission tracking, finances, and communications. For topics covered in previous blog posts, I provide a link to those posts in the text below.
Subject matter/content: If you write in more than one genre, make files for each genre in the beginning. As your collection grows, you will need to make sub-categories. For example, master category might be Nonfiction with subcategories Devotionals, Articles, or Book Ideas.
Submission Tracking: This is possibly the most critical organizing task for a writer, especially if you send simultaneous submissions. It’s also necessary for managing reprints. My previous post describes several methods, including a free Excel file I created for this purpose. See the full post here.
Finances: Published writers usually get paid for their work. While you’re trying to get published, you need to keep records of writing-related expenses. A simple list on a legal pad will do to start. However, as your career progresses, you will need more sophisticated records. I have created a couple of Excel files for simple income-expense tracking methods. Download a cash-in cash-out writer cash log here. Or, if you prefer something simpler, try this one which lists expenses and income in the same table.
Disclaimer: I am not a CPA and have never wanted to be one. Consult with a tax expert about what expenses can be deducted on your income taxes. Whether or not you use a CPA , you will be responsible for keeping records. See this article for basic information on tax issues for writers.
Communications: File letters or book proposals by publisher’s name because editor names may change over time. I keep most of my documents on the computer because I don’t have much filing space. Warning—if you do this, be absolutely certain that you will be diligent backing up your computer content. A computer crash or power surge could wipe out everything. I use online backup, but there are several other methods listed in my previous post on backup methods. Also, see my post, “Lessons from a Computer Crash.”
Organizing e-mail correspondence can get complicated if you use the same e-mail address for personal and business e-mails. I prefer separating personal from business by using separate addresses. Internet service providers usually offer multiple e-mail accounts, so you could create a new one for your writing. I use a Gmail account myself because you can set it up in Outlook or other e-mail clients without paying a fee. See more detail about handling e-mail in this previous post. After that, check out my post about my e-mail client, Windows Live Mail.
Next post in the Get Organized series will be Intentions: Why and for Whom Do You Write?