Becoming a Market Master: Part 1


Did you ever get the feeling that you’re watching market deadlines whiz by as you’re trying to finish up your stories? Or that you’re always a step behind when it comes to sending stuff off? Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could just hire someone to take care of all the marketing crap so you could focus on writing your next hot story?

In lieu of that, why not set up a simple system to keep track of potential markets? Not only will it ensure you never miss a deadline, it will keep your submission time to a minimum while allowing you to focus more time on your writing.

There are any number ways to keep yourself on track with the publications you want to submit to. I have one friend who prints everything out and keeps the markets in a big stack on her desk, the most recent on top. That system would make me go triple-insane, but it seems to work for her. I’m a technology whore, so I tend to do everything possible on my laptop. Either way, a good system—whether it’s on paper or computer—just needs a few basic elements.

1. A Schedule. Start by making yourself a to-do item on your task list (Segue: you DO have some kind of organized task list for your writing, right? If not, I encourage you to find one, make one or steal one, ideally as soon as possible. Right now is good. I’ll wait. Want a hint? Paper works if you aren’t attached at the hip to your computer or phone. If you are attached, try a free task list option like Remember the Milk, Toodledo… there are a lot of them out there. Find one you like and use it.). Okay, now back to your regularly scheduled market news. So, make yourself a reoccurring to-do that says something like “Check Markets” and make it so that it will remind you when it comes due. Mine pings me on the first of the month via email so that I don’t forget.

2. A Bookmark System. Have all of the market lists that you like bookmarked into a single folder called Markets or some such. On the day that you are pinged about checking your markets, go and do that. Check every market listing, and pull out any of them that appeal to you or that you might want to submit to or that you even think are interesting. Now, this is important: It doesn’t matter how far away the due date is, or whether it’s something you really will submit to, or whether you think you have a chance at all of getting accepted. If it’s something that piques your interest, pull it out. The reason for this is you just never know what you’re going to write, or how your tastes might change.

3. A Way to Keep Track. The next step is having some place to put all of those markets of interest. Otherwise, you’re just going to pull them out and watch them disappear into the nether, or into a folder, or wherever it is that markets go to die. One option is to print them out. Another is to cut and paste the market info into your to-do list. My option of choice is to put them into a note-capture program.

Here’s the system that I personally use:

1. I use a free note-capture program called Evernote, which keeps track of my notes both on my laptop and on the web. Evernote (and many other programs) have an awesome feature that allows me to put a “clip it” button on my browser, so that every time I see a market that interests me, I just “clip it” right into Evernote’s inbox. The clipping includes the entire market listing, including all relevant emails, guidelines and deadlines.

2. When I’ve gone through all the market listings and clipped everything that I found interesting, I go into Evernote’s inbox, and I change every market title to read like this: Deadline Title. So, for an anthology about Male Nurses due on September 5th, 2010, it would read: 0915 Male Nurses. If it doesn’t have a deadline, I just put the title in the subject line.

3. I then give every market a couple of tags. My tags are pretty general, and they include sexual orientation (hetero, gay, lesbian, bi, etc), slant (fantasy, cowboys, medical, etc), and length (short, novella, novel). Yes, this is time consuming and a pain in the butt. But later, when I finish a short story about two pretty boy angels getting it on, all I have to do is search for “fantasy” and “gay” and it will show me all the markets tagged with those terms.

4. Once that’s done, I move the market into one of four folders: This Month (for things due on the next 30 days), This Year (self explanatory), 2011 (also self explanatory), Undated (Markets that don’t have deadlines). I always have a folder that’s at least a year out, because then I can throw any annual markets into the next year after this year’s deadline passes, with a note to myself to check for new guidelines.

5. The markets are automatically set to sort by title, which means that every time I open a folder, I get a list of what’s due from sooner to later (this is why it’s important to use the dual-number system of months, like 04 for April, because otherwise it won’t sort correctly).

6. At the beginning of every week, I look at the month’s worth of upcoming markets and ask myself what I’m most interested in, what deadlines I’m mostly likely to actually hit, and if I have any reprints or rejected stories that I’d like to resubmit to any of them. Right now, my This Month folder has 22 markets in it. Obviously, there’s no way I’m going to hit them all, but having them all in front of me helps me whittle them down into a doable list. This also means that I don’t accidentally miss a deadline.

7. When I’m done with a market (meaning I’ve either submitted to it or realized I’m not going to be able to submit to it), I put it in a folder called Done-[Year], and I add a tag of Submitted or NotSubmitted. I don’t trash them, because you never know when a deadline might get extended or when you’ll need to double-check some information on an old market.

Okay, that was a pretty complicated explanation for a really easy process. Don’t let it fool you thoughonce you have a system down, and you do it regularly, you’ll never miss a market again. The trick to it is finding a system that works for you. If you’re a paper person, use paper. If you’re a computer geek, use that. The key point is to find a system that is intuitive and easy, so that you will actually use it to get your work out into the world.

Next month, part two of mastering the markets: All the tips and tricks you need for keeping track of what you sent, when you sent it and who you sent it to. Not to mention how much they owe you and when you can expect to get paid.


There are a number of online market resources for erotica writers, not the least of which is ERWA. The ones that I use most often include:

Shanna Germain
July 2010

“The Fine Art of Submission” © 2010 Shanna Germain. All rights reserved.

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