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Product Review:

Sonar2: Tracking Those Subs

By Guy Anthony De Marco
Copyright 2008 by Guy Anthony De Marco, All Rights Reserved

After spending hours laboring over your literary children, tweaking and polishing until they shine from their own light, you bundle them up in a manila envelope, lovingly paste the postage just so, and drop them in the outgoing mailbox with a prayer.

If this is the first manuscript you've sent out into the harsh world of editors and slushpiles, you've probably memorized the exact date and time it left your hand. However, if you have a large portfolio of manuscripts, remembering which one you sent to which editor can be confusing.

Enter Sonar2, a submissions tracking program from Spacejock Software. Written by Simon Haynes, the author of the Hal Spacejock science-fiction series and numerous short stories, Sonar2 provides a system for untangling which story was sent to which market.

Sonar2 can track a large volume of manuscripts. Some of the most useful features include the ability to add details, such as how much a manuscript earned, how many days since you've submitted a manuscript, and which stories are lounging around.

The user interface is intuitive and familiar; it reminded me of Microsoft Excel. The menu is straight-forward, with each major function logically grouped. The Stories/Articles section allows the addition, deletion, or editing of your manuscript details. The Markets section allows easy recording of editors and publishers, with quick links to their web pages, guidelines, and addresses. The Submissions section matches your story to the market you sent it to. Each section allows you to view all entries in each group, and the ability to print or copy-and-paste the data to the clipboard. Useful utilities include a backup/restore function built into the software.

The program takes up little disk space and works with many different operating systems, including the troublesome Microsoft Vista.

The best part is the cost. The program is free, and unlike many pieces of shareware or freeware, Sonar2 does not install advertising generators or spyware. The software is well-supported, and the software author is very responsive to questions and suggestions.

When I started using Sonar2, I noticed the tab order was wrong. Normally, a touch-typist would hit the tab key to proceed to the next box on the form. I emailed Mr. Haynes with the suggestion that he re-align the tab order, and within a day I received a reply that he would be working on it.

The program is stable, and I have it running on several computers. At the time I write this article, I have 22 stories and articles submitted to science fiction, fantasy, and horror markets. I can see at a glance how long they've been on the editor's desk, how many words each story has, and how much income each manuscript has generated.

Once a manuscript has sold, many authors assume they're done with that story or article. With Sonar2, you can easily track which stories can be sent to reprint-friendly markets, including the oft-overlooked audio sites.

Sonar2 is available for download from the Spacejock Software website:

Spacejock Software has several additional programs for authors, including yWriter, a free novel writer's word processor. Mr. Haynes has graciously posted useful articles for writers, and he provides a link to his Hal Spacejock series for interested readers.

After a short time, I found I couldn't do without Sonar2 running in the background. Knowing my manuscripts are out in the marketplace helps to inspire additional stories. I highly recommend Sonar2, especially to those who use Microsoft Excel or a sheet of paper to track their literary children in the tough publishing world.