“Should I pay a service to track queries I send to magazines?”

“Should I pay a service to track queries I send to magazines?”

Q. – 

Angela,

There are some websites that offer “tracking services” for an author’s queries. Should I use these or are they a waste of time and money?


A. –

I’m not a fan of tracking services. Writers can use a simple spreadsheet to track submissions. And, most of those types of services charge a fee. Why pay someone to do something you can do for free on your own computer?

Tracking services typically publish paying markets for writers, as well as some freelance jobs. They charge writers (usually a monthly or annual fee) to access those listings. Then, writers can apply for those writing assignments through the tracking service’s website. A database keeps track of the applications writers submit and their software can then show the writer that data in different forms (lists, pie charts, etc.).

The problem is, the more paying clients (writers) belong to that service, the more each market gets flooded with submissions. So, if Tracking Service A posts a paying market, and shows it to their 5,000 paying members, that market may receive hundreds or thousands of submissions in a short period of time. So, you’ve essentially paid that tracking service to create more competition for yourself. Naturally, this will lead to a much higher rejection rate than if you’d found markets on your own that aren’t getting pinged by numerous writers in a short period of time.

Also, writers can get so caught up in the “newest” site that offers submission tracking (“Ooooh! Pie charts and bar graphs!!”) that they spend very little time actually querying and writing. They’re too busy looking at statistics, chatting with other writers online, and not really getting any money-making work done.

In my opinion, a writers’ time is better spent querying non-swamped editors and publishers.

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