Update on Submission Tracking

Just over a year ago, I wrote a post, “Word Processors for Poets,” that talked about Open Office and Libre Office as open source alternatives to Microsoft Word that work better for writing poetry. I still haven’t gravitated to either for writing poetry. Old habits are hard to break, though Libre Office is getting more support, so I’m leaning that way. But as I mentioned in that post, I’m working on a way to use their database program, Base, to track my submissions.

Over the years, I’ve developed a fairly complex submission tracking program using first HyperCard and then SuperCard, as I described in my post “Tracking Submissions.” It works very well, though I know that it is ideosyncratic enough that no one else can probably use it. I have a card for every title and a card for every publisher, and they cross-reference what was sent where, when, and what the response was. I can also run several kinds of reports to see what is in, out, or accepted, for instance. I can use it to keep track of grants, and I even set up an invoicing system and a way to track my expenses and earnings. I’ve been working on this for over 30 years, and added a little at a time for quite awhile, though it’s been awhile since I did any programming in it, until now.

Unfortunately, SuperCard is fairly expensive for the hobbyist. It’s really meant for software developers and is priced accordingly, though it seems fairly inexpensive if you’re going to market your programs. HyperCard was free, and that’s what got me hooked, and the transition to SuperCard was great when Apple discontinued HyperCard. But now, Apple has moved to 64-bit programs and SuperCard isn’t planning to make the transition from 32-bit anytime soon. It’s too difficult and too expensive for them, but it’s too expensive for me to upgrade. I’ve held off on upgrading my Mac so I can keep running SuperCard, but I won’t be able to do that much longer.

So I’ve been working on a program to export all my data to a semi-colon delineated file. (There are too many commas in my text for a true CSV file, but semi-colons also work.) This way, I can import into Calc, Libre Office’s version of Excel, and then into Base to set up a database to track my submissions. Here’s a little taste of that code:

It’s not that hard, really, but it does take awhile to decide what to put where so that it will correctly import into the database I’m creating. Last night, I accidentally clicked on the button to run the program when I meant to edit it. I let it crank along until the program crashed out in an error (in a part that I wasn’t finished with). Before it did, it exported the TitleExport file, and I’ve already found a couple of things I need to fix so that it works better.

I won’t bore you with those details, though…

The fun part, was to see that I have recorded submissions for 541 separate titles. A few of these are duplicates (such as a separate title for a book and a book query or excerpt), and many of them are translations. Not all have been published, though many have.

I’ll be curious to see how many different places all these titles have been sent. I’m sure that will be a much, much higher number, given that most titles have been sent to several magazines before getting published, and the book publishers I’ve submitted to probably number in the hundreds. Since I’m planning to keep a record of each title’s submission to each place it’s sent, the submission file will probably be in the thousands.

In the database, there’ll be one table of places to submit, since I’ll be combining journals, books, and contests into this one table, and one table that lists information on each title. A third table will cross-reference these and list only the title, the place, the submission and response dates, and the status of the submission. This ought to let me pull all the information I need about what titles are submitted where and which ones are in, out, or accepted, etc.

If that doesn’t work, I’ll have shell out the money for an upgrade and for the third party workaround I’ll need to keep SuperCard running — or I’ll have to limp along with my old Mac OS until I have to buy a new computer. Maybe by then SuperCard will have an upgrade, but in the meantime, it’s a fun challenge to see if I can make the export work and then get the database up and running the way I want. I’m in no rush, obviously, since I’ve been thinking about it and tinkering with it for the past year. But that’s only been in a few spare moments here and there, and this year those moments have been few and far between.

Published by Kendall Dunkelberg

I am a poet, translator, and professor of literature and creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, where I direct the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing, the undergraduate concentration in creative writing, and the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium. I have published three books of poetry, Barrier Island Suite, Time Capsules, and Landscapes and Architectures, as well as a collection of translations of the Belgian poet Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. I live in Columbus with my wife, Kim Whitehead; son, Aidan; and dog, Aleida.

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