When it comes to getting information from people, we use email. If you need to organize a lot of it (as if, say, you ran a lit mag) and you have money or the right friends, you might get your hands on a submission system to compile and organize all that good information. Or you might be out of luck. Dale Wisely over at Right Hand Pointing mentioned this really interesting idea to me the other day: use a combination of Google Apps’ forms and spreadsheets to put it all together in one easy to use location. This idea may seem obvious to those who regularly use Google Apps or surveys to collect data, but I was shocked at how clean this functionality is.
Some disclaimers: This idea accepts plain text only (no boldface or italics) and organizes everything into a spreadsheet. This is not the best way to read large blocks of text but it works for poetry, flash, or any kind of micro. Acceptances/rejections still require a manual email, so if you run something like elimae and you’re firing off responses in three hours flat, you’d probably waste more time copy-and-pasting email addresses than it’s worth. But say you run a quarterly mag or a one-time deal where you’re sitting on pieces for a while and it’s easy to lose track of them—this is a nice way to keep ’em all in one place. Not just one folder, like with email filters, but literally one document. It’s also handy for doing your own Duotrope-style stats. Sure, you can do this all by hand in excel (or you could code your own system), but this definitely has its uses.
If nothing else, say you’re trying to collect addresses or contact info for writers to include in an anthology. You could send a big email (BCC’d, of course) and manually amass the responses. Or you could use Google Forms to collect the responses into a spreadsheet for you (which is what @nick did for Twitter Wit).