I’m not talking about a Christmas list, here. I’m talking about keeping a list of the things you’ve published, and preferably copies, too.
It sounds obvious, but it’s one of those little housekeeping things that can so easily get away from you. My list has gotten away from me a bit, particularly in the matter of newspaper articles. This is because where I live, way out in the country, the Sault Star doesn’t deliver, and that means I don’t get the paper regularly. My mother-in-law keeps my articles if she sees them, but she doesn’t always. On my list of things to do is going to the library in Sault Ste Marie and going through their archives of the Star to take photocopies of anything I’ve missed.
Clips – examples of previous work – can be valuable in getting new work. I make a point of requesting file copies for every magazine article I write. Most magazines will send you a copy as a matter of course, a perk of doing the article for them. Some don’t, in which case you may have to buy a copy. If I have to, I do.
I keep a list of my publications here, although at the moment there are a few things missing from it. I have a file on my computer that I update regularly – again, it’s a bit behind, and one of the jobs on my little list is to get that up to date.
Why bother, you may ask. After all, anyone can google you and find an incredible amount of information about what you’ve done. (I once found an illustration credit for a role-playing game book I’d worked on in the early 1980s. I’d completely forgotten about it.) That’s true, but not all of that writing may be available online. Until very recently I had nothing informative about animals online. Having copies of your print articles means that you can show a potential client a wider range of work. Having copies of print anthologies allows you to do the same.
Some of us significantly predate the internet, and some of our work has never been available online. Sometimes work also disappears from the internet. The Verb recently closed, and a piece of mine that was archived there is now no longer accessible. When a publication is print and virtual, having a copy of the printed version means that when or if the virtual publication disappears, you still have proof of publication.
I do one more thing. I keep hard copy. I’ve written very few stories this year, but I’m still going to print out everything I wrote and make an archive book. I’m going to do the same with my blog posts and my non-fiction articles. I may be a bit on the obsessive side with this since I lost fifty folklore articles written over a period of two years, but so be it. That’s not going to happen again.
In the meantime, a publication history is de rigeur for many funding applications. Prepare one now, keep it up as you publish new work, and when the day comes that an application requires a publishing history, all you’ll have to do is hit “print”.