Every January I look back on the year that went past with the intent of scrutinizing it to see what I could’ve done better/different. It’s a fun exercise, and I like to make sure I’m growing in my writing. Check out my previous year-end posts here, here, and here.
At the beginning of the year I had formulated a plan to send out my writing to more venues than I ever had previously. I had 15 acceptances in the year 2015. That may sound lyrical and poetic now, but to be honest it’s better than I expected to do when I started submitting.
Out of a grand total of 171 submissions, I garnered 15 acceptances (1 was accepted last year but published this year). The final tally looks something like the following:
As expected, a majority of submissions have been rejected. The ‘Responded’ category refers to queries I sent and I maintain it only for tracking purposes. The ‘Submitted’ status means it is awaiting a response, so there are 33 of those still lurking in the ether.
This time I included a ‘Shortlisted’ category, wherein twice my piece was shortlisted but not finally published. I couldn’t count it as a rejection either, so I created this new category. One of these venues was On The Premises. In their regular contests, if you make the shortlist but don’t make the final set of winners or honorable mentions, you get a detailed critique of $15 value. I got my critique from their editors, and I have to say it was way beyond the stated value. I highly encourage my fellow authors to submit to their contests. You get to read great stories either way when the issue is out, and even if you don’t win a prize you can win a chance at a critique from the editors which is highly valuable.
In 2014 too, I had 15 acceptances. This set me thinking about what was the difference between my submissions in 2014 and 2015. Here’s what I think:
- Last year I tended to send out submissions to every publication that generally suited my stories. This year I tried to fine-tune my targeting of markets, and in many cases I wrote stories or essays meant for them, such as the On the Premises contest. I found this works better than dusting off an old story and moulding it to suit the theme.
- A spin-off of the above point – there were a few markets I wanted to see my name in, mainly because I admire them. That was satisfied this year with pieces published in Literary Mama, Open Road Review, Papercuts, the Her Stories Project, etc. I also had a humor piece published in HuffPost India.
- The number of non-responses still surprises me. I know the number is paltry in terms of the total, but I would have preferred at least a rejection note from venues that don’t state explicitly that ‘No response means no’. A couple of markets simply shut down, so that’s out of my control.
- Last but not the least, I sold two short stories at pro-rates! This was a target at the back of my mind, one of those things that I just wanted to see if I could do it or not. One was in GreenPrints journal and another from Cracked Eye. In both cases I got paid on acceptance.
On the writing front, I achieved the following:
- Attempted to write 500 words a day every day. I did this successfully in the first half of the year, but stopped by May as I was starting to feel the effects of burnout.
- The end-of-year writing count total came to around 113k. I don’t set yearly targets or anything, so I am happy with this total. It’s a fair improvement on my 2014 total of 80k words.
- More than 70% of the total was achieved in the first five months while I was on the 500-words-per-day diet. My writing in the second half of the year, due to increased work combined with health issues, was quite sporadic.
- I still managed one short story per month for the Short Story Challenge. I am sorry to say I won’t be continuing it in 2016. I lack the time and also I want to revise the stories I’ve written over these two years. The body of work I’ve created is quite substantial now, and I’d like to actually see more of these stories published.
- Helped copyedit and publish Distant Echoes, a collection of some of the best stories thrown up by the 2014 Short Story Challenge. This is a major landmark for me as I had never been part of publishing something on Amazon before! I am pleased to say that the collection is doing well.
That’s all from me. How has 2015 treated you? Have you (dare I say it) made any resolutions for 2016?