As a writer, you come into contact with many different people—editors, agents, fellow writers, book store owners, etc. They may stick around for a while, but they may change positions or leave their place of employ. As a writer, it is important to keep up to date on these changes. You don't want to make a bad impression by submitting a manuscript to an editor who no longer works for a publishing house.
It is imperative that you keep track of people in the industry, including the company they work for and their contact information. So what's the best way to do this?
One way is to use Outlook. You can add as much detail as you want for a contact, including birthday and department they work in. You can then categorize your contacts accordingly. Perhaps you want all readers in one category, booksellers in another, etc. You can also create a group, adding names and emails to the group for mass email distribution. When you have an announcement to make, such as a book release, you can send it to the group with one click of the mouse.
Another way is to use an online service such as Plaxo (plaxo.com). This online service syncs with all your email accounts and devices to keep everything updated. It also deletes duplicate records. Another site is Flexadex (flexadex.com). Both these sites allow online access from anywhere in the world. So you never lose contact information when your computer crashes or you trade in your phone.
A database program such as Access can collect this information also. Fields are customizable, so you can add info like where you met the person (at conference, perhaps) or editor's preferences (genre or length). The database can be exported to mailing lists for mass email distribution.
A simple spreadsheet works, too. You can create your own headings and fields. Data can be sorted by column, so you can add and delete easily without worrying about the order of entries.
Finally, if you are truly old-fashioned, there is always the paper version. If you like to work with paper and pen, select a notebook or address book with pages that insert and remove easily. These are limited in space, though, so you may not be able to collect all the information you want about your contacts.
Whatever method you choose, make sure it's the right one for you. Use it on a trial basis to see if you're comfortable entering the data and customize the entries. Once you find a system you like, then start entering all your contacts. Or hire a professional organizer to do it for you! Prima By Design, 847-955-1822