It's day 11 of PubSubPackMo and whether you're researching publishers to familiarize yourself with the many houses out there or developing a growing mailing list for promotion, it's probably time to think about creating a database. There are many ways to do this. Here's what I do:
Throughout the year I list publishers and notes about publishers in a text file for later research. I come across leads all the time and it's usually when I'm in the middle of a job. If I stopped to research every time I found something, I would never get any work done. This text file serves me well at PubSubPackMo time, but it would be a mess to have as my mailing list. That's where the database comes in.
|You can see my column for notes in |
this partial view of my database.
(Click for larger view.)
Developing a database allows you to organize your information based on different criteria that you specify. For my databases I have columns for publisher name, contact person, and address, but I also have an unlimited area to keep notes about each publisher. In this spot, I list my impressions, what types of work they publish, guidelines specific to the publisher, what work I have that is a good fit and what I want to send first. I also have categories where I list what I send each time and the date sent.
A big part of setting up the database is using it for mailing labels. When I'm ready, my software - the same software that houses my database - takes me through the set-up where I decide which fields from my database will print. I obviously don't want my notes and some of the other information to print. My software gives me options for which mailing label I want to use and then adjusts the text to fit.
What software to use? I use open source software for Macs called NeoOffice, but there is a lot of software out there to choose from. A great place to start is with the most popular office software recommended for your computer. Read the reviews and technical notes to make sure you know what you're getting into. Many programs give you options and "wizards" to help with your database set-up, but if you're having trouble navigating your database software, there are lots of tutorials and videos online. You can also pay $25 for a month at Lynda.com and take a mini-course to get up to speed really fast.
One caveat about databases - software changes, crashes, becomes obsolete and otherwise useless. I keep my original text only file of all my publisher information as a back-up and I also print it out and keep it on hand - just in case. Over the years I have had several instances where I've been glad I did. Don't let your time and hard work be wasted!
I'll be posting about different types of children's publishers next. In the meantime - keep on researching!