Blogging Tips: Keeping Track of Review Copies with a Spreadsheet

 
 

I will be the first to admit that, in many ways, I am a completely unorganized person. However, when it comes to blogging, I’m like an organization fiend.

About a few months after I started this book blog, I discovered the beauty that is spreadsheets, and they have helped me IMMENSELY. So today I’m going to share with you all how I keep track of the review copies I receive, and I’m including a blank Microsoft Excel template file at the bottom of the post for you to download if you want to use the same method. (I think it will work with any spreadsheet program, but I haven’t tested it and don’t know if the filters will still work.) Anyway, the best part is that it’s all customizable, and, since it’s on the computer, you can change things around as often as you want without having to start over or worry about scratching things out ;-)

So… enjoy! And do let me know if you find it helpful :-)

 

 

Alright, it’s really not very complicated and most of it (aside from a few filter tips) is self-explanatory, but I’ll explain it all just in case using this handy-dandy graphic. (If it’s too hard to see, you can click on it to see a larger image.)

Blogging Organization: Keeping Track of Review Copies with a Spreadsheet | Blogging, Blogging Tips, Book Blogging, Books

Infographic Descriptions

1 – Book Title

This is where I put the title of the book.

2 – Release Date

This is where I put the release date if it’s an ARC or the deadline if it has one. If the book is backlisted or has no deadline, I put a dash.

3 – Source I Received It From

This is where I put the specific place, person, or publisher I got it from. That way I know exactly where to go or what name to look up in my email when it’s time to submit my review.

4 – Have I Read It Yet?

In this column, I leave it blank if I haven’t read it yet, and I put a “Y” for “Yes” once I have. I also use “IP” to stand for “In Progress” when I’m currently reading the book, but that’s not necessary.

5 – Have I Written the Review Yet?

Again, blank if I haven’t or “Y” if I have.

6 – Have I Posted It to My Blog Yet?

Again, blank if I haven’t or “Y” if I have. You’ll notice I also use “TW” when the post is scheduled to go up “This Week” and “NW” when the post is scheduled to go up “Next Week.” That’s also unnecessary, but it makes me feel more productive to see that my reviews are getting posted soon.

7 – Have I Posted It to Goodreads Yet?

Again, blank if I haven’t, “Y” if I have.

8 – Have I Posted It to Amazon Yet?

Again, blank if I haven’t, “Y” if I have.

9 – Have I Submitted It Yet?

Again, blank if I haven’t, “Y” if I have.

10 – Filtering Out Books You’re Finished With

If you don’t know about filters, they’re super handy. You don’t have to use the filter specifically on the Amazon column (if you use my file, you’ll see I’ve placed the filter option on all columns), that’s just the one I most often use because normally, once my review has been posted to Amazon, I’m done with it. Sometimes I submit reviews to Netgalley or wherever before the books are released, so using that column would cause books to be hidden that I haven’t posted to Amazon yet, and that would defeat the purpose. Depending on how you do things, you have to decide which column to use. To use it though, all you have to do is click the arrow and then select the checkbox that says “blanks” from the choices. And voila! All the others disappear (which is why, if you look at the far left you’ll see my rows skip from 9 to 42 to 55, etc.). That way all the books you’re done with don’t clutter things up.

Blogging Organization: Keeping Track of Review Copies with a Spreadsheet | Blogging, Blogging Tips, Book Blogging, Books

11 – Ordering by Release Date

This is handy for trying to meet deadlines, especially if you read books in order of release date. For this one, all you have to do is click the arrow and choose “Sort A to Z” from the choices. It should move all the other column too so they stay with the correct books.

Extra Tips & Customization

Filters

If you’re making your own spreadsheet, for Microsoft Excel all you have to do to is click the very top of the column where the letter is, go to the “Data” tab all the way near the top of the program, and then click “Filter”. Once you have filters in place, you can order things from A-Z or Z-A (which also works with numbers and dates), use the checkboxes to show only certain items, or use more advanced text filters which can, for example, only show items that contain the word “magic” OR the word “dog” in them. You probably won’t need text filters for organizing review copies, but it doesn’t hurt to know!

Inserting Rows/Columns

If you decide to want to add another row or column, just click on an existing one, go to the “Home” tab, then click “Insert” and choose which one you want to insert. Excel (and probably most spreadsheet programs) always inserts columns to the left of where you clicked and rows above.

Changing Text

Super easy! Just click on the box and start typing if you want to completely redo the text. If you just want to add a word or something to preexisting text, just double click.

Download My Review Copy Template

I think that about covers it! It’s not very difficult to make your own, but if you want to use my template, you’re more than welcome to. As I said, I haven’t actually tested how this works as a download or how compatible it is other programs, so I apologize if it doesn’t work. If you do give it a try, let me know how it works in the comments!

Review Copies Spreadsheet

 
 

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  1. Lola

    This looks great! I have considered setting up something like this, but haven’t done so yet. It’s weird how with some things I am super organized and with others, nope not at all. I organize my review copies by adding them to a goodreads shelf, that’s it. If there’s a deadline for when I have to review it I add that to my calendar, else I just let my moodreading ways take over.

    Your spreadsheet looks very organized and it’s so neat you can filter things out or sort on certain columns to get more of an overview of things. I do use excel but know very little about it. i didn’t even knew you could filter. I know how to make a new column, insert rows and make sure the topmost line stays locked and that’s about it, lol. And I recently learned how to turn a csv file into normal rows.

    Thanks for sharing how you order things in excel and for sharing your spreadsheet template. I might give it a try one day :)

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I still generally mood read too, which is why I’ve got unread books on my list from June lol (oops), but some publishers are more strict about deadlines. And I still use the chart to keep track of what I’ve posted/sent where, more than anything. I couldn’t survive without my spreadsheets for review copies and my post schedule (which I’ll probably do another post about). It’s just too confusing for me otherwise. And this way I can easily see a list of what review copies I haven’t read yet so that when I need to decide on my next book, it’s easy to see what I’ve got. And if there’s an book with an earlier release that suits my mood, I can go for that one rather than one that’s got a later date. Stuff like that.

      I didn’t know how to use Excel until I started using it for this. This is pretty much the extent of my knowledge lol. It’s basically whenever I think something like, “Hmm, it would be useful if I could filter out books I’ve already submitted,” I just Google it, and that’s how I learn new things. And oh yeah, I totally forgot that I locked that top row in place, I didn’t include that in my post.

      You’ll have to let me know if you ever give this a try!

  2. Greg

    This is way more organized than I am lol but looks like a good system. I have a notebook I write in. :)

    I can see where this would help though. It’s funny, I used to go to a used bookstore where the lady had everything on excel, so when you checked out she went in and updated her spreadsheet. Problem is if you got a stack of 10 books it’s taking a while lol. She was nice though… what can you do?

    Greg recently posted: Tuesday Tagline #3

    1. Kristen Burns

      I can’t use notebooks because I change things around too much. I have to keep track of things electronically. I suppose the better you are at using spreadsheets and the different functions, the quicker you’d be able to find and input things, but lol, yeah, sometimes you just gotta roll with it when it comes to people.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol I suppose if you’re able to remember things well in your head or if you’re disorganization works for you, then it’s all good! But I personally couldn’t survive blogging without all my organization. It’s too confusing for me to try and keep track and everything otherwise. It is fun though seeing how different people do things!

  3. Angela @ Simply Angela

    I quickly learned keeping track of my review copies was the only way to stay sane. lol I’ve tried using a computer-based program but I’ve found using a notebook is better for me for the simple fact, I remember to actually write them down in the notebook whereas I was forgetting to on the spreadsheet.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I agree, I couldn’t handle blogging or review copies without a way to keep track of everything. I was going nuts trying to remember everything in my head. That’s interesting that you forget more when using a spreadsheet. I just can’t use notebooks because I change things around too much and like to be able to easily which ones haven’t been read by using the filters, etc.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh that’s a smart idea, using the shelves on GR! I like being able to see everything in neat little chart form though lol. But yeah, you should totally add a shelf for that! I have like a million shelves on GR for all sorts of things. They’re just so handy!

  4. Bookworm Brandee

    Thanks for sharing all the tips, Kristen! I’ve tried doing a spreadsheet (in Google since I don’t have Microsoft) but it didn’t really work for me. It was hard keeping track of all the columns and dates and… I’m not savvy with spreadsheets so I didn’t know about the “Filter” function. That’s fantastic! And I like that you included a Source column. I didn’t think to do that. I’ll also have to add in a Received column so *ahem* maybe books won’t get buried so deep on my ereader that I forget all about them. ;) I’ll have to give this a go again since I’d moved to keeping a journal of review copies and you know, that’s not really working for me either. LOL

    Bookworm Brandee recently posted: #COYER Summer Vacation Wrap-up

    1. Kristen Burns

      On my other computer I think I was using Open Office for spreadsheets since it’s free. But this one just happened to have Microsoft Office. There is so much that spreadsheets can do though, it’s crazy. I don’t even know the half of it. I basically just decide, “Hey, I wonder if it’s possible to do this because that would be helpful,” and then I Google it, and that’s how I discover new functions lol. But yeah, journals wouldn’t work for me simply because I change things too much and things would be constantly getting scratched out and turn into a mess :-P

  5. Let's Get Beyond Tolerance

    I have a physical notebook that I tend to list books needed to read on and then I write down when it’s meant to be scheduled or when it will be published in that same notebook/planner. I keep meaning to try an Excel sheet though – see if it helps me. Thanks for these tips!! I love that you can make a column that helps filter out when you’re finished so it doesn’t clog up your list.

    Let's Get Beyond Tolerance recently posted: How to Rock a Two Bride Wedding (Featuring Evian Facial Spray)

    1. Kristen Burns

      I can’t use physical notebooks to write things down because I’m always changing things around, reorganizing, etc. And I really like being able to filter out books I’m done with because it definitely helps me to easily see what I’ve got left when choosing my next read, what books are being released soonest, etc. I’m glad you liked my tips!

  6. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I love spreadsheets so I love this idea. They are just so useful to help you keep track of things and I wish I was better at using them (I’m thinking like the cool spreadsheets Crini does at All About Books where you get tables and percentages and such) because I would be so organised if I could implement more spreadsheets. I think I’ll be downloading and we will see how much it gets used (you know, once I’ve reinstalled office from my old desktop to my laptop).

    1. Kristen Burns

      They really are useful! But I don’t know how to do all the cool charts and things either. I’m sure we could both figure it out if we really wanted to, but eh. Too much work lol. Let me know if the chart even works at all when you get it running!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks you! Well, to be fair, you’re more organized than me in a *different* way since I don’t actually have TBR lists. And clearly I’m behind on a few books since they were released in June (oops!), but I haven’t been in the right mood for them.

  7. Michelle @ FaerieFits

    I am obsessed with spreadsheets, and I’ve always used them to organize my discussion post ideas. But, interestingly enough, I’ve only just started to use them for tracking my reviews. And that’s only because I just changed blogs and am VERY slowly reposting old reviews, so I feel the need to track which ones are still hanging around out there. I exported my Read shelf on goodreads to a spreadsheet and mark off whenever I’ve revised the review, scheduled it, etc.

    I need to get better about sending reviews to Amazon. Everything goes to Goodreads, but I’m absolutely awful at posting them anywhere else.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I also have a spreadsheet to keep track of and organize my blog schedule. That one and this one are the two I need in order to survive blogging lol. Your method for keeping track of reviews sounds very similar to my spreadsheet here though! It’s just so helpful to be able to check things off and easily see which one still need X or Y or whatever. I just can’t do that in my head.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Actually, I use three spreadsheets regularly, and one of them is just to keep track of books I’m reading in general, though that one’s just a personal thing, not for organizing my blog or anything like that. I do find my spreadsheets come in very handy though!

  8. Karen

    I’m really strange in that too much organizing has the opposite effect on me. I freak out and don’t want to do any of it! lol

    I have a shelf dedicated to my physical copies for the current month, then a sticky note on my computer for any e-arc’s/review copies and where they came from/date to post. But that’s about it.

    Karen @For What It’s Worth

  9. Kaja

    I keep track of my review copies in my blogging calendar – I use the Google calendar and have colour-coded entries. I then add tasks to each review (like posting on Goodreads and NetGalley) so I can tick them off. I’m not super organized when it comes to this and I sometimes miss a publication date but I’ve been doing better recently.

    I also don’t really accept review copies from authors (unless it’s someone like Rachel Aaron, for example), I just use NetGalley.

    Kaja recently posted: My Autumn TBR

    1. Kristen Burns

      It sounds like you have a good method since you’re able to keep track of dates and use tasks to keep track of the rest. I have never actually used Google calendar, so I have no idea how it works or what it can do. I sometimes miss publications dates too, but that’s more because of my mood reading than disorganization lol.

      I guess not taking review copies from authors does make it easier to remember where you get your books from!

  10. AngelErin

    What a great way to keep track of everything! I love the idea of using a spreadsheet, but I just do mine by hand on paper. It’s probably not as organized, but I like to cross out the books I read and scribble everywhere. Hahaha it’s an organized chaotic mess I suppose. I love how you do your spreadsheet though with the release dates and all that.

    AngelErin recently posted: Baby Doll By: Hollie Overton Review

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! The whole crossing out and scribbling is literally the reason I *don’t* use paper lol. I change things around too much, and it’d be too messy for me to actually make sense of.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I didn’t think I’d be getting review copies either! But once I started, I knew I had to get it under control because it was getting too chaotic trying to remember it all in my head. Thanks!

  11. Pingback: 14 Things This Week – Girlxoxo.com

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! The filtering is super helpful. I hadn’t known about it either until I started using this and got curious as to whether it was possible to do!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Ah yes, I totally use color coding in the spreadsheet for my blog schedule :-P But for me the cross-posting columns are super helpful because sometimes the book isn’t released yet so I can’t post it on Amazon yet, or maybe I had a deadline for posting on Amazon and GR but didn’t have an opening in the schedule to post on my blog yet, or sometimes I submit through Netgalley before posting, other times after… so it all gets very confusing for me trying to remember what has been posted where!

  12. Deborah

    I use a program called Trello (wrote about it on my blog) which is a basic project management tool, to track my reading and reviewing. I can just drag ‘cards’ from my ‘TBR’ pile to my read to my ‘drafting review’ to my ‘post to social media’ column. And I can archive things which is good cos sometimes books just sit there for too long and I need to get them out of sight!

    Deborah recently posted: Weekly check-in

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh that sounds like an interesting program, and it seems like we handle review copies similarly. I guess my spreadsheet works for me since I can keep track of all those same things and can also basically archive them (or rather, hide them using filtering). It’s cool to learn about the different methods and programs that work for different people though!