2023 Goal Update #1
It's been 4 months...
I write goal and goal update posts for transparency. Many writers don't want to share how much they are or are not writing, submitting, querying, etc. I strongly suggest you find yourelf a small writing group with goals similar to yours - whether it be short fiction or novels, indie publishing or traditional routes - because these groups will be more vocal about their goals, activities, and struggles than the average social media or blog writer.
I give an update after four (4) months because it's long enough for movement in some direction.
By the publication of this blog post, my goal was to submit thirty (30) stories to reach my goal of ninety (90) by the end of this year. As of today, I have submitted thirty-nine (39) stories. I'm quite ahead of my goal. This also means I've been a little lax in keeping my submission routine, well, routine. But I'm already nearly 1/3 of the way to my next update goal.
Giving this an On Course 🏃🏻♀️
Rejections and Acceptances
I have seven (7) submissions out at this time. I have one acceptance announced earlier this year. Manawalker Studios will be producing "Submerged" on their Flash Fiction Podcast! Earlier this week, I received another acceptance, which I'll announce after I have contract and information on announcement.
My goal is always 100% rejection because I win if I make my goal and I win if I don't because I'll have acceptances. Additionally, I'm a member of a group who sends rewards for rejection accruals in stickers. It's highly motivating to get stories submitted and rejections collected, which will also increase acceptances.
Giving this an On Course 🏃🏻♀️
Short Fiction Writing Goals
See the next section about what writing I have been doing, but my goal to write or polish a short story most weeks of 2023 is not going well. I've polished three (3) stories and either put them on a submission path or they appeared in my newsletter.
I've started another few stories, but my totals are nowhere near the seventeen (17) that a story-a-week would have gotten me.
Giving this a In the Weeds 🌿
I have requests out for the novel I queried April 2021 - December 2022, otherwise, I have CNR'd all remaining queries and basically trunked that novel pending any news on those requests. Rejection should come any day, good news could take five or eight or more months.
I finished revising a novel minutes before midnight on New Years Eve. I took a couple months to get and process feedback, and sent the full request I had from pitching the novel. Other than that, I'm not quite ready to dive into the query trenches with it. Should all of the above come back rejected, then I'll begin querying this novel, a YA SF tragedy, in earnest. I've started a query list and have my letter ready. But I have no firm goals other than wait until I hear back.
Here's hoping it's good news back well before my update at the end of August.
Why didn't I get my short fiction goals met? Well, I spent January and February writing about 22.8k words in a backburner novel I hadn't opened since August of 2020. At first it was more in that novel, and then a whole new set of characters came and I thought I was writing a short story I could pull out of the backburner novel. But, nope. Not sure what I'm going to do with that 22.8k right now. Let it sit for about six months and then look at it again. The last thing I need is another novelette or novella to find a home for.
On April 8, I woke up and came up with a novel idea. Normally, novels require some marinating. However, I wrote a general idea of it in my ideas spreadsheet and 100 words on a piece of paper while out at dinner with my family. The next day, I woke up and wrote about 4k words. I started my draft the way I've always drafted, in a Word doc. But I've been testing out a Mac after a decade of using Windows and I decided to see how drafting in Scrivener is. On April 10, I moved everything into Scrivener and all my words have been going into this new novel.
As of this update, I have 31k written in this novel. When I started 2023, I had no idea I had any expansions or new novels in me. I had a lot of ideas marinating. One of the oft-given pieces of advice while querying is to "Write the Wait" in whatever form you can. I'd expected to write short fiction, instead I've gotten another novel going - another novel that should be query-able if I finish it per my word count goal, 850 words per day for about 85k total, give it time to rest, feedback, revisions, in about a year.
For my novel writing update in August, I should have an update on revision status on that 22.8k and if I'm going to pull it out and work on another too long to sell story, and I should have an update on if and when I finished drafting this novel. It will be in the middle of my "let it rest" phase.
Unexpected Goals Achieved!
In the crumbling of Twitter, some of the writers I follow and admire suggested joining Codex as a way to find the community we were losing. So I applied and qualified! That's pretty cool. I haven't even introduced myself over there yet, but I look forward to being more active in that community.
It's the last Friday of the year and time to assess my success at meeting my writing goals for the year and set new goals for 2023!
Click my Goals category to read previous goal setting and updates. But I'll review the previous year's throughout.
Short Stories Written and Polished in 2022:
In 2021, I made a goal to write and polish thirteen (13) stories and completed seven (7).
In 2022, I made a goal to write and polish ten (10) stories.
I completed and polished four (4) stories and updated one (1) finished last year and started submitting them.
This goal received an incomplete. ❌
Story Submissions in 2022:
In 2021, my goal was to submit 39 stories and I submitted 40.
My stated goal in my review and goal setting post was forty-two (42.)
However, pretty quickly, I determined this was not a sufficient goal, as described in my First Update of 2022.
My new goal became a stretch goal of sixty (60) submissions. I submitted sixty-six (66) times.
This goal receives a succes ✅
Rejections in 2022:
My goal, as before, was 100% rejection rate. That way, I'm successful whether I meet it or get acceptances.
According to my Submission Grinder stats, I had a total of 65 rejections AND one (1) acceptance.
Calling this one a success ✅
Acceptances in 2022:
I don't make acceptance goals because I have little control over them. However, for completeness, I report that I had one (1) story accepted and published in 2022, "A Dress of Flowers" published at ZNB Presents.
Published in 2022:
I published three (3) stories in 2022. One (1) was published by a publication, one (1) on my website, and one (1) in my bimonthly newsletter.
Stories under consideration at this moment: Three (3)
After meeting my goal of sixty submission in early October, I ceased my normal resubmission policy in order to focus on two different novel-length projects. The short story submission process was eating into my mental space. Having reached my goal, pursuing more for the sake of more walked a path towards burnout. Instead, I only submitted for particular windows and specific stories.
Goal: Short Stories Written and Polished in 2023
In 2023, I will be participating in a story-per-week short story drafting group through Cat Rambo's Patreon and Chez Rambo Discord Group with the goal of one new short story draft per week. Polished? Unlikely. My goal is one drafted short story (flash through novelette) per week newly written with polishing as many as I can, ideally one per month.
Goal: Short Story Submissions in 2023
When I changed my goal for 2022, I plotted out new goals through 2025. This gets me to a large number of submissions in a reasonable manner without burning myself out.
Goal: Short Story Rejections in 2023
Goals for 2022: Were vague. Keep querying. Keep editing. Go with the flow.
I did all of those. Over the course of 2022, I sent forty-five (45) queries. I still have nineteen (19) queries out that I haven't heard back from nor have marked CNR. I'll probably CNR a large number tomorrow to round out my 2022 querying year.
Goals for 2023:
I am finishing revising another novel, which already has one full request for when the revisions are done. I'll be sending that out and querying. My first goal of send that full MS is the only quantifiable goal I have for novels at this time.
At the end of April, I will update this goal, not just with noting the quantifiable one, but with new goals for the remainder of the year.
Unexpected Goals Achieved!
One of the Discord groups I'm in celebrates 100 short story rejections, which I achieved this year.
A slightly more positive achievement came earlier in the year. One of my goals for 2023 was to qualify and join the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association.)
With my 2021 and 2022 sales combined with the SFWA membership requirement changes, I joined the SFWA in April! This goal has already been achieved!
See you next update!
Short Story Submissions On a Roll!
In April, I gave the update that my original goal planning was not cutting it, and so I made a stretch goal - submit (and get rejections [for]) sixty (60) short stories this year. This will lead up linearly until in my fifth true year of submissions, I'm aiming for 150. I try to stay on top of submissions by having a specific number reached as the calendar year progresses. Othewrise, I might be stuck short of my goal with a large number of closed-for-the-holidays and/or a break markets.
As of today, I should have sent forty-two (42) stories out in the world - the same number I actually sent out in 2021. I am excited to say, I have submitted fifty (50) short stories already in 2022. I am only ten (10) away from my goal and have a whole four (4) months to get them sent out.
New Stories in Rotation
Since the April update, I have 2-3 shorter works that I have fully polished and am sending out, along with my other stories looking for homes. This brings me to ten-ish (10) stories that are out and about, looking for their homes. Why -ish? Well, a couple of those stories counted and not counted are reprints, another is a drabble that I'm not settled with. Another has a very specific order-of-operations and isn't really available to just send out, or turn-around upon rejection, which is my usual motis operandi.
Right at this moment, not everything that could be is out. And, gasp, I've got a couple stories under acceptable simultaneous submission! I find with ten stories, the turn-around is a little slower and I also consider simultaneous sub with less stress than it was.
Querying, you say? Yes, last update after a year of querying and a (less than a paragraph) form rejection on a full request and so much silence from agents, I declared myself done querying one of my novels.
Then a friend and champion of querying mentioned she was at 150 queries. Which sparked one of my few competitive drives. While I will not try to outcompete that, I have decided to at least get to 100 queries with my novel before setting it aside.
In June, I began querying again.
For the first ten months of querying, I made a policy to always have one dozen (12) queries out in the wild. I built up to that number within the first week or two. When a rejection came in, I sent another out. With the silence of agents in 2022, that method does not work at all. I'd never move forward with queries. I'm currently sending queries as I have the emotional and time bandwidth for it. Every rejection is still a knife in my heart (but I'd still the rejections than the silence). I'm currently at about twenty (20) queries out.
We'll see how it goes.
Until Next Time...
I hope to have all sorts of good news by the 2022 goals wrap-up - short story goals submissions met, more acceptances, querying at least meeting my goal number if nothing else.
Original Plans Change
My original stated goal for my short stories was 42 submissions in 2022. However, by the end of January, I realized that wasn't pushing me at all. In fact, I was already ahead of the submission curve and it wasn't any pressure to produce new submittable stories.
I also had been incredibly impressed with some writers who were at 150 submissions for 2021 - and found out they'd been doing this for five years. And so I adjusted my goal. I now have a goal that at year five (2025) I will aim for 150 submissions. But one does not just hit 150 submissions. No, I must work up to it.
Ever the numbers nerd, it was pretty easy to see that a nice linear ramp would have been 30 submissions my first year (2021) - which I exceeded by 10, 60 my second year (2022), 90 my third (2023), 120 my fourth (2024), which gets me to 150 in my fifth year of submitting.
I made that adjustment and went to being ahead of submission goals by one to being behind by one.
Where am I now?
I talked with several people who submit 100 or more stories in a year. It often comes down to doing a ton of simultaneous submissions or having a ton of stories to send out.
I find simultaneous submissions high anxiety producing. I tried it early on. It made me too anxious. So, simultaneous is out until I get to the point that I do not care (or will miss my goal if I do not).
I decided to get my stories that are near ready, polished and ready to send. Unfortunately, I just didn't get things edited as fast as I wanted. It was the typical issue that sometimes editing is slow despite putting the hours in. And then, in March and April, I lost a large chunk of writing and editing time to a completely different project.
And so, dear reader, where does that leave me? As of today, I have 15-16 submissions for the year. (It depends on how I count them.) Which is 4 less than where I should be for my new-and-improved 60-subs in 2022 goal but higher than my initial goal would require. With less stories to submt now than I started with.
At the turn of the year, I had sevel stories in submission rotation. One story is retired. Another story is under contract! Yay! (Details will be forthcoming so watch my social media and newsletter!)
That left me five stories in my submission rotation. Five of which currently look like this:
If you look closely, you'll notice two of those five are 2021 submissions. I'd love for them to be accepted and fall out of rotation, my 2022 submission goals be damned (since the submission goals are all about finding homes for my stories.)
Ah, but I have added a story in 2022 and my current stories under submission should be six. Which reminds me that I have a story that I've forgotten to send out because the markets I wanted to send it to were not open when it was ready to send on. So I will be one closer to my submission goals shortly.
I have more than two (and the exact number more I'm uncertain about) stories that really only need the last read-through before I send. I just need to do those last read-throughs, ie find the editing time. And then they can start down the submissions path.
And I need to find my writing time again. I have found some - I spent it writing scenes for a novella that was done. Why? Because this set of characters doesn't leave me alone. But if I get this one out on submissions, they will have to. Won't they? I guess we'll see. But this one shouldn't even need a last read-through at this point. It should be going out.
And I will get the others edited and started submitting. I have a list. I will persevere!
What am I waiting for?
It appears I was waiting for the kick of seeing my numbers in the middle of my intial and updated goal plus a story under contract to give me the motivation and confidence to squeeze writing and editing time out of my day and get submitting new stuff again.
Original Plans Continue to Change
I made a big push in January querying my novel. But the trenches are rough right now. So very rough. A form rejection on a full request sealed it. I am done. After (now) a year of querying, I'm letting my novel rest. I still have queries out, mind you. But everyone is so far behind in response times. Despite some Twitter threads asserting request rates are the same as ever, the general consensus among my querying and agented-in-the-past-two-years friends is that it is lower now than ever. I'll see if any of my unresolved queries come to anything. But unlike shorts where rejections don't bother me, every query rejection is a knife in my heart. I need a break from it.
Who knows? Maybe at the end of the next update, I'll have gone back to querying.
It's the last Friday of the year and time to assess my success at meeting my writing goals for the year and set new goals for 2022!
I posted my original goals at the end of 2020, and two updates-one in April and the other in August.
Short Stories Written and Polished in 2021:
My goal for 2021 was to write and polish thirteen (13) short stories. At the time, I had written and polished four (4) short stories in two months at the end of 2020 and had written more than one novel in 3-6 months in 2019-2020. A little more than one short story written and polished each month seemed feasible. I already had a dozen or more started.
In 2021, I wrote and polished a total of seven (7) stories, falling short of my goal of a baker's dozen. The vast majority of these were written in the first quarter of 2021. Unfortunately, once I started querying my novel, it really stymied my creative flow and I was unable to write much. With everything I had available to edit, one would think I could work on those. But those stories needed many more words written and I was unable to complete them. I did not polish anything once I was back at work in-person full-time. My laptop was broken for most of the second half of the year.
2021 wore on me in ways that 2020 did not.
This goal receives an incomplete ❌
Story Submissions in 2021:
I submitted forty (40) stories this year, exceeding my goal of 39 submissions.
This goal recieves a success! ✔️
Rejections in 2021: My goal was for a 100% rejection rate on my submissions. I like this goal because it keeps me submitting. Plus, I win if I meet it and I win if I don't because it means I had some acceptances.
I received thirty-seven (37) rejections and two (2) acceptances this year.
This goal receives a success! ✔️
Acceptances in 2021:
I do not make acceptance goals because I have no control over those. However, it's the end of the year, and I will report my final numbers. I had two (2) acceptances in 2021.
Published Stories in 2021:
I published four (4) stories in 2021. Two were published by publications, one was published for a short time on my website for the Writer in Motion program, and one was published exclusively in my newsletter.
Stories under consideration at this moment: Seven.
Goal: Short Story Submissions in 2022
I'm pulling this number using some logic, math, and the fact that I managed 40 submissions this year and want to always increase my goals when possible. This is a little less than one submission per week.
Goal: Short Story Rejections in 2022
My goals for 2021 quickly went awry and have changed and morphed throughout the year. I learned how some techiques for querying worked for me and others did not. I also believe now that querying advice from before the pandemic is useful to a certain extent but can set expectations much too high for the landscape now. I'll let you peruse all the Twitter threads about publishing today to draw your own conclusions.
My goals for 2022 are vague to the point of not really being goals at all. Keep querying. Keep editing. Go with the flow.
I like the trimester approach to updating goals. I'll keep you posted and, of course, I'll shout from the rooftops should I become agented or have more stories published.
Goal Check 2021
It's the end of August, and it's a good time to do an update of if I'm meeting my yearly goals as a writer. I posted one of these updates at the end of April. Because my goals aren't huge in terms of numbers, only updating about every four months is reasonable. If I had daily submission goals, updating on a monthly basis would be a better interval.
I wish I had better news regarding updated numbers, though.
Short Stories Written and Polished: I have six stories that are polished to submission status, one that was but I pulled and need to polish again, and another that's mid-polishing. Two of these were already self-published, either on the blog via the Writer in Motion program or in my first Newsletter. It's a bit shady to include those two because getting them published via another outlet may not be feasible now that they already appeared once. The purpose of the polishing goal is to write stories that I can submit to markets.
Including the four stories that probably should not be included, because they are being re-polished or already self-published, puts me at eight stories for the year - right on track! Not including them actually puts me behind my April update of five.
Story Submissions: I have submitted stories 27 times so far this year. This is exactly on track.
I made a goal mid-year to try to always have something submitted to Daily Science Fiction. They have a 2-4 week response time. If I kept up my short story polishing goals, and the word counts met those for Daily Science Fiction, I could meet this goal. However, not everything I am polishing right now meets their requirements, so this goal is on hold while I figure out how to meet it properly.
Rejections: My goal is for a 100% rejection rate on my submissions. This keeps me submitting, and I win if I meet it, and I win if I don't because stories were accepted! I am currently at 27 rejections.
Stories under consideration at this moment: Three.
The numbers look odd because I had six submissions with only one rejection in 2020. One of those stories was accepted and four have since been rejected. I also had another acceptance in 2021 of a 2021 submission. My numbers don't look like they add up, but they do. Writing this blog post made me check the accounting. I use both a tracking spreadsheet and The Submission Grinder hosted by Diabolical Plots.
Querying: I sent my first query on April 18 and have sent 37 queries to-date. I received a partial request and a full request. I have had 29 rejections or no response after X time is a pass.
I also haven't sent a single query in August. Why not? Over the course of querying, I came to the conclusion that my opening pages were in the way of requests. At the end of June, I wrote a new chapter 1 as a writing exercise - not a replacement, but a step back. I've been editing and polishing it, very slowly, since. Unfortunately, I've had two weeks where I'm trying to finish a critique I promised for the end of July and therefore not working on my own stuff. On top of that, I have some ARCs to read and review. Time management of my writing, editing, critiquing and reading time, which are essentially the same time, has been poor over the summer. My reading speed has tanked in 2021. This is a problem.
Overall, I'm not at novel goals at all. I don't have a dozen queries out right now. I'm not at a 10% request/response rate.
Just as soon as I finish/send off this critique, I will focus on the novel chapter and then push my query numbers back up to a dozen out.
I currently have over 30 flash and short stories to finish and polish. I have two novels to edit and do more with besides the novel I'm querying. I have a third novel to finish. I have two novellas that I need to decide what to do with them. And I have a novellette I need to finish. I have more writing and editing than I can do unless I devoted my full time to it. Unfortuantely for writing (but fortunately for my bills) I have a full-time day job. However, fall and winter are coming. My mountain-faring will be reduced. My schedule will be shuffling. Maybe I'll take the advice I was given by a successful author: While querying my novel, plan and write the novel I would write if I could write anything. Now that I've already done that 3 times, cough. What do I want to write now?
2021 Writerly Goals Update
I posted a summary of 2020 and goals for 2021 at the end of December. We are one-third of the way through the year, and it seems like a great time to do an update of meeting my goals.
Polishing a story to submission: By now I should have four new stories done to stay on target for thirteen by the end of the year. I have five!
Submitting stories: I have submitted fifteen pieces thus far in 2021, which is two more than my time-tracked goal!
Rejections: I have received exactly the amount of rejections if they were to come in like submission. However, I happen to have two acceptances this year. So I'm quite happy with this!
I got trapped in a quagmire with Author Mentor Match and my novel. After mentee selections were announced (and I was not one), I realized I was using mentorship programs and revising as a way to procrastinate sending out my novel to agents and pursuing publication. After talking at lengh with a critique partner and attending Flights of Foundry, I got myself organized and started querying agents.
My goal had been to query five agents per month (starting after the AMM announcement) with a partial/full request rate of 10%. However, the implementation of that goal didn't end up working for me. (Also, it would mean I should have queried fifteen agents at this point and another five by the end of next week.) Instead, only about two weeks ago, I put together my list and queried sixteen agents since. My plan is to keep about a dozen queries out at any given time until my list is complete or everyone closes. I try to send out a new query every time a rejection comes in. However, the 8-day of query out mark was rough with four rejections coming in within about 24-hours of each other and I did not have more querying in me. I will try to get more out this weekend to get back up to a dozen queries out.
Still hoping for that 10% request rate, I received a partial request within my first eight queries. I've modified the goal that it should be a 10% request rate amongst rejections/assumed pass due to time passing. (Therefore, as of this moment I have three more rejections before I need to consider reworking my query package - ie general query letter, first pages, synopsis, etc.)
This is somehow a first third of the year and only two week update with also the immediacy of what I'm doing right now reported. To date I have queried sixteen agents, recieved one partial request, and six rejection including on the partial request. This marks me as on-target for my novel goals.
While that novel is in the querying trenches, I need to make some decisions about the novel-in-two-parts, the one-in-progress, and new novels.
What I accomplished in 2020
I completed my novel, Slipping, at the tail end of 2019. I spent the first three months of 2020 trying to get people to read it for feedback. I chased friends who I thought would be good because they read so much and so fast. What I needed were other authors. I found them via Facebook beta reader and critique partner groups and writerly Discord servers. Twitter can also be a source to find readers. The (current) first chapter has had a dozen folx read it. Many have given feedback over the entirety of the story, including sensitivity readers. Over the course of 2020, I moved the beginning of the novel and revised, revised, revised. Going into 2021, I'm still revising.
I submitted Slipping to Pitch Wars 2020. I was not selected.
I completed writing another novel in two parts. That one has gone through my alpha reader, two beta readers, and is with a critique partner. Going into 2021, I'm still revising.
I consider short work 50 words to 45k words.
I've penned loads of short stories over 2020. Four were polished up for submission throughout the last month of the year. I submitted those four to six potential publications. Five of those submissions are still pending and I received one rejection. It was my first rejection on short work in decades!
I am submitting Slipping to Author Mentor Match in January. We submit the first 50 pages, which makes partial requests unlikely. I hope to get at least one, if not four, full requests and, of course, selected as a mentee.
However, my current critique partner, found through Pitch Wars, is providing excellent feedback on my current manuscript. If I am not selected for author mentor match, I believe she and I can get it query ready.
Whether or not I am selected as a mentee for Round 8 of AMM, I plan to query my most polished version of Slipping.
I will query five agents monthly or so, with a goal for 10% request rate, until I get an agent for Slipping.
I will continue to edit and polish the second novel, and I have a third novel-in-progress I will finish writing.
Write /polish 13 short pieces, and submit my polished short pieces 39 times for 39 rejections. The goal here is to accrue rejections. I win if I make my goal, and I win if I don't since that likely means I've gotten acceptances.
Image from Adobe Stock.
Writer of spec fic.