Friday, July 31, 2015

Writing Productively (8) Opportunities tab.

This is the eighth in a series on productivity tools for writers. I use technology to minimize the tasks that I find tedious, or to help me avoid errors, and maximize the time I have to be creative.

I primarily use Opportunities to track submissions to markets and contests. I have also use it to track non-monetary things, like Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest, or the MPC (Most Productive Critter) Award Credits on (it allows you to bump your story to the top of the queue to be critiqued). But the most important function of Opportunities for me, is making sure I don't accidently do a simultaneous submission to two markets (usually not allowed) and that I know when to follow up on a story if I don't hear back.

To start, click the red New Opportunity button in the top right corner.

Here's how I enter the following information:
  • Opportunity Name: I start with the name of the story, followed by a hyphen, followed by the name of the market I'm submitting to. This way, it's easy to see what it is at a glance from the list of opportunities. 
  • Category: I always enter the Category, one of the options listed below. Categories are configured in Settings, and all types of categories are set up on the same page. For more on how to do this, see my post on configuring projects
  • Forecast Close Date: This is date by which I expect to hear back, and I don't want to send a Submission Query until after this date. The market's website usually has some instruction on the soonest to follow up, and sometimes I go by the Reply Time on or The Grinder.
  • Value: I calculate the Fixed Bid amount based on what the market would pay for the work I'm submitting. For example, Crossed Genres pays $.06 per word, and Brain Power is about 5,000 words, so I enter $300.
  • Links: This is very important. I always add a link to the Project and a link to the Organization record for the market. Later, when I pull up the project record to see where to submit it next, I'll know that I've already submitted it to Crossed Genres. If I pull up the market's Organization record, I'll be able to see which stories I have already submitted to it.
    • Adding a link works just like it does on other pages. To add a new link, start typing in what you want to link to, and project, org, and other records will start to appear in the drop-down list. You have to choose the one you want (each item on the list shows the icon). Then you have to click the Save button or the link will not be added.
Click save and create your Opportunity. When I get a submission confirmation or other type of email, I forward it to the Link Email Address.

When the story is accepted or rejected or withdrawn, I change the State.

To configure the states, you'll need to go to the Settings area, where you will find Opportunity States:

Although you cannot change the States themselves, you can add Reasons. I use the Reasons to distinguish when a story is accepted vs when it wins something in a contest. I consider them all Won, but  Accepted is different than Honroable Mention or 1st Place.  I use Suspended to indicate I have withdrawn the story from the market. Also, I think it is nice to distinguish when a story is rejected with a form letter vs. receiving personalized feedback in the rejection email.

To add a Reason to a State, first choose the State, then simply type in the Reason, and click the Add Reason button in the lower right corner. If you accidently add a reason to the wrong state, you'll need to delete it and add it again. However, if you just need to fix a type-o in the Reason, you can use the Edit option.

Back on the Opportunities list page, I usually have the list filtered by Open opportunities, and I sort by Forecast Close Date (Oldest To Newest). This makes it easier for me to figure out if I need to follow up with a market.