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?
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.