This stuff isn’t sexy, but it is important if you plan to treat writing as more than a casual hobby.
Contracts: If you’re published, can you immediately locate all your publishing contracts in case you need to review a clause, a publisher ceases operation, or you want to get your rights reverted? If something were to happen to you, could your loved ones find your contracts and know who to contact at your publisher? I have printed out all my contracts and put them in a binder with each book title and publisher labeled, and I’ve showed it to my husband so he knows what and where it is. I update my binder every time I sign a new publishing contract.
Editor/Agent Submissions: Whether you’re published or not, do you know who has your manuscript, and how long they’ve had it for? I have a spreadsheet that I’ve kept since 2002 with all my editor and agent submissions—who I sent to, at what house, which manuscript I submitted, what I sent (i.e query only, three chapters and synopsis by email, full manuscript by snail mail, etc.), when I sent it, when a reply was received, and what that reply entailed. This was absolutely critical a few years ago when I had twenty queries out at once, both so I didn’t repeatedly send the same query to the same agent but also so if my rejections all noted that “the heroine wasn’t sympathetic” I could consider revising before I sent out more queries. Now I have much less to keep track of it, but I still find it usefully when I’m sending a new manuscript to a publisher, so I remember to follow up on it if it’s been out for a while.
I’ve left off the biggest and most hated organizational items: Financial and Taxes. We’ll tackle them in next week’s toolbox.