Tag Archives: publishing

A different kind of a year.

So my number of external publications is slowing. Down to a few factors.

First: I’m focusing on novels, so I’ll be writing fewer short stories and novellas. I may write a short story or two between bursts of novels. Inclination will be a big determinant on that ūüôā

Second: I have a trip coming up later in the year. Six weeks. Latin America. I can’t guarantee my access to the internet to manage submissions and the business as a whole. So I’m putting submissions on hold from now through until I return. No sense in frustrating editors if by chance they want my story and they can’t get hold of me.

Third: I’m pursuing professional sales only. You would think that that’s an obvious strategy, but for many years I’ve undervalued my writing. That’s not to say that I’m not proud of my publications, or ungrateful to those editors who’ve honored me with publication.

Naturally this assumes that editors will take my stories. I have had numerous professional publications, and I generally get positive personal rejections from most for stories that don’t make the cut. Making it cut is always a long shot. I recall reading that Clarkesworld receives around 1000 submissions a month, all angling for one of five places in the magazine.

So, all that said, if I’m not here announcing more frequently, it’s because I have less to announce.

Naturally, I will be writing just as much ūüôā

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Five years of writing every day.

keys.jpgFor a moment, I thought I’d wait until I hit 2000 consecutive days of writing every day, but I still feel like five years (1826 days) is a good round figure.

So, last December 31st, 2016 I made it through five years of writing every day. I counted the words written each day as I went (heading for annual targets). Some days I wrote a little (156 words for my lowest count), some days a whole lot more (over 8000 on my best day), most days around 1500.

Each year my total wordcount has crept up. From just over a half million in 2012 to well over 600,000 last year.

What did I learn?

Well, I hope I learned to be a better storyteller. Raymond Chandler is supposed to have said that every writer has “a million words of crap” in them before they start writing readable¬†fiction. My five years has produced over 2.5 million. With the years before, I suspect I’m up well over three million words. I’m not convinced that I’m not still writing crap.

Dean Wesley Smith would say that a writer is the worst judge of his or her own writing. I’d agree there. Some of my stories I think are duds sell, and some I think are wonderful circulate and circulate without finding a home.

(Chandler also said “A good story cannot be devised; it has to be distilled” – I like that one).

Along with learning about writing, I’m learning about the business of writing. How to manage my time more effectively and how to worry less often. I guess another thing I’m learning is patience. Whether that be waiting for the response from a publisher, or waiting for my readership to grow. Getting there.

100 Submissions

Last great time house.png So, as well as tracking my word count this year, I’ve also tracked my number of submissions. Now, I do keep close track of where and when I’m submitting (it would be kind of silly not to), but this is the first time I’ve ever recorded the actual number as well.

So far this year I’ve made 100 submissions. That’s submissions of short-stories/ novelettes/ novellas to various markets. It doesn’t count items I’ve sent to indie/ self-publishing.

To be clear, though, I have completed a total of¬†fourteen new pieces. All of those submitted. There have been some novels that have gone directly to indie, so I’m not counting those.

Getting to one hundred submissions means some of those fourteen, and some of last year’s stories (and a couple from the year before) are finding themselves resubmitted. This is pretty standard practice. One market rejects a story, off it goes to another. Repeat. Heinlein would say ‘repeat until sold’.

Of those fourteen, I’ve so far sold six. Not a huge number for me, but I’ll take it (of course). Pretty low ratio in terms of submissions: six percent, but not too bad in terms of stories completed.

Cover illustration for The Last Great Time House of Muldemar Ridge © Ateliersommerland | Dreamstime.com

Year end review, with a late rally

Close to the end of the year, close to completing some goals, distant from others.
 
My word-count goal went well: from 300,000 for the year (completed in August), upped then to 450,000 for the year (completed in November) and upped again to 500,000, and right now sitting at 497,065. Catastrophes aside, it looks like a slam dunk on that one. Yay.
 
Publishing 300,000 words didn’t go so great. It went pretty good – right now it’s around 203,000. Mostly self-published under my Triple V Publishing banner through Smashwords, Kindle, and CreateSpace/Amazon. It was gratifying to have several acceptances by publishers in there – about 26,000 words of that total were published in online and print magaziens such as MicroHorror, The Colored Lens and Takahe.
 
What about the other 97,000 words? Well, I sure wrote them. Part of it was procrastination: sitting on a 60,000 word New Zealand Literary novel instead of sending it out to some publishers (and then self-publishing it if it came back as noes). I’ll remedy that in the new year, with my new goals. Part of it was a pig-headed determination to keep things on the market – that is, numerous stories, novelettes and novellas that get rejected and go out again, rather than self-pubbing. I’ll fix that too: with some of the pieces that have been to the seven or eight main markets: the next time they come back I’ll pull them out of circulation and publish them through Triple V.
 
I felt like I spent much of the year feeling out in the wilderness: I’ve had more than a hundred rejection slips since January. Mostly form rejections, but there have been a few personal notes which has been cheering. The acceptances have helped out too – early in the year my sci-fi novella The Wreck of the Emerald Sky appeared in The Colored Lens. I had a few flash-fiction acceptances through the year, which was nice, but most of the longer works seemed to keep cycling. Then, a late rally. An acceptance for Takahe (a New Zealand literary mag), a third-placing in a regional short story contest, and an acceptance for Aurealis – one of Australia’s leading science fiction magazines. Coming just a couple of weeks before the end of the year, that acceptance has buoyed me no end: I am on the right track, and persistence pays (real money in this case, too).

Next year, I’m aiming at 500,000 words from the git-go. And aiming at publishing 600,000 (whether self- or traditional) – and have a plan in place to make the possible.

See you next year, with more goal updates.

After all those noes, a yes.


It’s worth sticking with it. I’ve lost count of the rejection slips I’ve received this year. Give me a second, I’ll go check…

… back now, thanks for waiting. It’s fifty-four. 54 rejections so far in 2012. That’s from around 25 stories out and circulating. I’ve had a few acceptances, but mostly for non-pay* or token pay anthologies/magazines. Most days when I get a rejection, the story goes out to another publisher the same day. I love these days of email submissions: so much easier than back in the dark ages of envelope, stamp, return envelope and postage, printed cover letter, fresh print of the ms because the last publisher crumpled their copy.

Why send it out again ever? Well, publishers have different opinions, different needs and different expectations. On occasion some particularly generous (ie who has the time?) editors give some feedback… and the feedback can be wildly different: the aspects of the story they found didn’t work will be entirely different. I also keep trying to remember that last of Heinlein’s rules – keep it on the market until it is sold.

The new acceptance is from a New Zealand literary magazine – Takahe – who’ve published stories of mine before. It will be nice to be in print again.

*Why take no money for a story? That’s kind of contradictory to good business sense, no? Well I guess part of it is my ego is still tangled up in there. Another part of it is that when I come to self-publish the story through Triple V as an ebook (and possibly print), then the rights revert to me immediately.

Fourteen submissions out and waiting

Well, waiting and writing, writing, writing. I have fourteen submissions out with publishers right now. I know for some writers that might be a pretty low number, but for me it’s up amongst the highest at any one time. I find I get both excited, and concerned. Excited that some of these stories that have been out for a while might be moving up from the slush pile to more senior editors (yay). Concerned that they maybe never arrived, or have been lost. I need to keep track of those enquiry times – some publications say enquire after a week (I don’t have any subs with those ones at the moment – their turnaround is pretty slick), some say wait ninety days before enquiring.

It’s hard not to be excited, and then always a little disappointing when it comes back after ninety days with a form rejection. Still, that means it can be live again with another market.

Drafts and drafts and drafts

Lately I’ve been following the blogs of Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith – if you’re a writer, you should be following them too: filled with wisdom and great ideas and, wonderfully, they do not suffer fools gladly. They are husband and wife, and run WMG publishing, and used to run Pulphouse publishing. They blog about the publishing industry, and sometimes seem to contradict each other (Smith says he can’t see a reason to hire a professional editor, Rusch says go ahead and get one), which is fine, I’m gleaning gold from both. My novel is getting professionally edited, but I’ll stick some stories up from having a single reader and a proofread.

Smith is doing a challenge this year to write and publish 100 stories. He writes them, proofs them and publishes them. I’ve bought and read the one of them (so far) – “On top of the dead” – and it was pretty good. Not perfect, not gemstone polished, but it was a story and, seriously, I enjoyed it and was engaged from start to finish. Isn’t that what counts? The study guide I teach from states that the fiction’s only rule is that it must compel the reader.

When I was interviewed by Shells Walter earlier this year, I was asked about my advice to beginning writers. I said that your first draft is not good enough, probably not your second draft either. Now I think I’m inclined to agree with Smith, though with a caveat – Smith is no beginner. He’s published around 90 novels, over a hundred short stories, teaches and has run publishing businesses and worked as an editor. I guess he knows his way around stories. Something he’s noted is that students don’t necessarily improve their stories on the second and third drafts, and often make them worse (I’m paraphrasing here, but I don’t think I’ve misunderstood – though don’t quote me as having quoted him). On occasion I’ve noticed that with my students, though that said, sometimes the final story for the year is a much improved version of the original.

So, should I edit this blog post, or just let it out with a simple proofread? What, you saw a typo?

From time to time my stories can be dreadful. I don’t need a reader to tell me that. I put them aside, come back and really they’re not working. I rewrite from scratch. Now, that usually works and I get something I’m happy with – Where there’s water took a couple of runs at before it was working. A current story – Sleeve Tattoo – is at a second draft stage and I know there will be wholesale deletions, some extra bits to write and so on to make it work. Other times I do write quickly and the first draft needs tightening, proofing and seems ready to go. Back from Vermont was like that. So was Deadstick. Both got published out in the real world. One of the keys is to know when it’s just not working, and I’m still learning that.

I’m not that much younger than Smith and Rusch, but certainly by comparison I’m a fledgling writer (though my first publication was more than 20 years ago, and I have published over 100 stories, I’m still earning a living from tutoring and librarianship). I’m learning lessons and growing as a writer. With my new publishing venture – Triple V Publishing – I’ll start electronically republishing some stories that have only been in print anthologies, and then, taking a lesson from Smith, perhaps start writing and publishing stories right away.

Deadstick – the first Triple V story, will be out soon. It was one that was written fast – over a couple of weeks – and came out pretty much how I wanted it, with a few changes (though in it was originally conceived as a fairy story, it became dieselpunk – more on that closer to release).