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Pen IN Hand
January, 2008

Peggy Bechko

Listings Of Success
Keeping it all straight
By  Peggy Bechko
You've made a few sales. It's not a fluke after all! You're on your way.
So, time for some organizational advice. And believe me this is as important to your career as your writing. Keeping things straight from the get-go will be of huge benefit later. Follow along with this nuts-and-bolts practicality and you'll gain huge rewards in time saved and frustration averted. And, if you haven't sold something yet, you will, so don't skip this one.
Okay you've sold articles, or a book or some other "printed matter." From the very beginning, set up a sheet in your word processing program where you'll add any sales. That way you'll always have a master list of what you've sold, when, and to whom. Note the title, the publisher, date of publication, and if there were any reprints associated with it.
This page will grow and expand over time. Keep it updated every time you sell, and keep it backed up on some safe media. Don't think you don't need to bother, that you'll remember what you've done, because you won't! Time will pass and credits will stack up, and you'll never remember what you published last year.
Over time, you may want to break your growing list into categories or genres. Or you may simply keep the master list and lift from it what you like that's appropriate to whoever you're approaching for your next assignment. You can easily copy it from your master list and create a new document consisting of only credits appropriate to the new market you approach.
If you have a website, the second thing to do is to update it with the new information. Include all information that's important and, if possible, a link to the publisher or the published piece. You might mention the cost of the magazine or publication and give a link to where it may be purchased. Plainly, if we're speaking of a book here those links are very important. Remember, too, to keep your site clean and remove what needs to go once the publication is no longer on the racks.
Additionally, as soon as the published material comes out, copy it. Make several copies and then set up a simple filing system. You may want to file by topic, by genre, or some other identifier you'll be able to relate to. Each file folder should be clearly labelled with your title and contain several copies of your material. With articles, copy the whole thing and the publisher's masthead. Keep a couple of copies of the magazine.
If it's a book you've succeeded in getting published keep a few copies of the book on hand against the need for a sample. Generally included in the publishing contract will be a number of free copies to be sent to you upon publication and more available at somewhere near cost.
Keeping things up-to-date will allow you to include clips easily when requested by simply reaching into your file drawer. A book is less often requested, but I've been darn glad I had a copy to offer several times along the way.
Do yourself a big favour and stay organized.

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Author of Doubleday western novels, Harlequin romances, Fictionworks' fantasies (eBook format), Peggy Bechko has also optioned screenplays domestically and abroad, written for an animated series and for variety of other venues. She's working on a new novel and collaborating on a animated series.

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Upon the trails we’ve known;
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Waiting for us to admire.
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Are not so far apart;
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As though you’re hanging drapes;
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