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So What’s The Fuss About Sonar 3?

If you want to be a published writer – whether it be of short fiction or novels, non-fiction or fiction, articles or ebooks – at some point you are going to have to submit your work. The process of submission is an angst ridden one. Will the publisher like it? Have you found all the typos? Did your beta readers pick up all the faults? The fear of actually submitting your work for serious consideration by another is so great that few writers take the time to consider the more mundane aspects of the submission process.

Many writers make the mistake of submitting a polished work to a market only to then sit around idly in fear of doing anything else until they hear back. Given that some professional markets can take three months, six months or even a year to get through their slush pile, that waiting doesn’t seem like the most productive use of time. After all, months of inactivity are hardly the most productive use of your writerly time.

It’s widely recommended that once you have submitted a work you forget about it and move onto the next thing. There’s also a lot of support for the idea that upon rejection you turn the manuscript around and send it back out on submission to a different market.

Sonar (logo)What stops a lot of writers from doing this is organisation. Trying to remember what you’ve submitted where whilst at the same time trying to forget about it can be difficult and present all sorts of difficulties to a writer.

Writers have different ways of organising themselves from post-it notes to spreadsheets, but if you are looking for a quick and simple solution, you could do a lot worse than consider Spacejock Software’s Sonar 3.

Sonar 3 is a free submission tracker. It keeps a record of your work and what markets you have submitted it to so you can concentrate more on the process of writing and less on the worrying.

The software splits the submission into three main areas: works, markets and submissions.
Works is where you list all the writing you plan to submit. You add the title, the word count and even what genre or category it is. There are optional tabs and fields as well, allowing you to keep a record of comments, a description of the work, and even the file location of where the formatted manuscript resides (useful if you keep copies of your various drafts so you don’t accidentally send out an old, incomplete version). It’s a quick process to add a new work and some fields can be left blank if you don’t have the information to hand.

Next are your markets. These are the places you plan to submit to. In this you can store the contact details for the publisher including address, telephone, email and web address. You can also keep a record of the editors’ names as well as paste in details of their submission guidelines so you don’t have to go looking for them the next time you submit something to that market. You could spend an age researching every possible available market on websites like Duotrope and then populate Sonar 3, but a far more sensible idea is to add markets as you submit to them. It’s far too easy to make the exercise of completing your database a procrastination one.

The final area is submissions. This is where you list what work you have submitted to what market. Populating it is as simple as choosing one item from the works dropdown list and one from the markets one. You add the date you submitted it and then forget about it until such time as you hear back. At that time you’ll go back into the submission screen and click the response tick box. This will give you a date field to enter when you received a reply. This might not sound too important but it will allow you to build up an idea of realistic response times.

You’ll note as you start to use the software that you’ll quickly build up some good data. Sonar 3 offers views that make it easy to see which markets are working for you, or how long you really have to wait to hear back from any publication. You can easily see if any work has already been submitted to a market and even keep a copy of their feedback.

If you use Sonar 3 effectively – and it’s incredibly simple to use – then you can pretty much ensure you won’t have any works sitting around on your hard drive when they could be out on submission. You will also avoid the embarrassment of accidentally sending a work to a market you’ve already submitted it to.

Of course, this isn’t going to make markets more likely to say yes to you, or make the sting of rejection any less painful. But it does mean you can focus on writing your next piece instead of worrying each day whether you’ve got a reply waiting for you in your inbox or not.

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