A Literary Audit

Literary Audit 2016The tax year just having ended, I’m taking stock of my business from the past twelve months – doing accounts and such – but, seeing as how my business basically boils down to a lot of words in a lot of places, I thought it was time to crunch some numbers on those, too.

I’ve done this before, but the results of that literary audit weren’t very organized and are now massively out of date.

But what exactly is a literary audit? I hear you ask.

Well, it’s the process of looking hard at everything you’ve written/created/had published, and putting together some facts and figures based on what you find. The purpose of this is two-fold: to see how far you’ve come, and to give you a better idea of where you might want to go with your work in future. You might find, for example, that you have written a lot of short stories, but that you’ve only ever submitted a tenth of them to journals, blogs, or competitions. Knowing that leaves you with the obvious next step of going out and making a fresh round of submissions.

SIDE NOTE: While I’m on the topic of submissions, have you heard about Submittable? It’s a website that lets you submit your work to relevant publications quickly and easily. I can’t recommend it highly enough (read more about it here).

How does one conduct a literary audit? I used a spreadsheet with several tabs, and way too many midnight hours. 

Now, on to my facts and figures: 

To date, I have self-published six books – kinda. Two of them are photo/art books, which some people might not consider real books at all, and one of them has been released both as two separate eBooks, and as a single combined print edition. The specifics of all that don’t really matter here, IMHO. Let’s just call it six books.

Two further photo/art books are in stages of preproduction – one for release this year, and one for (hopefully!) next year.

I have eleven novels living in my brain. Which, yeah, that sounds like a weird sentence. But what I mean is that I have the ideas for eleven specific novels – right down to plots, characters, and even titles – which I haven’t actually written yet (beyond a brief outline, in most cases. Some have had more work than others, but most have had very little).

I have thirty-two short stories (including flash fiction) living on my computer – all complete except for three, one which is technically complete but needs a re-write, and most already published; the rest (of the completed ones) on submission.

Also living on my computer are two scripts for short films (under ten minutes). They’re complete, but I don’t have the first clue of what to do with them. (If anyone knows of submission opportunities, please tell me!)

And then there are the poems. They’re what I’ve spent most of my time cataloging out of this whole process. With pretty much all of my teenage poetry (thankfully) not in existence anymore, I had a total of two hundred and fifty poems on my computer – stored in a single folder. Some of them with similar names, and many of them I couldn’t even remember writing. It was a mess. But, now, I have them in alphabetised folders, and listed by theme in my spreadsheet. Doing that, I could see that roughly eighty of them have already been published (and some of those several times over!).

The most prevalent themes in my poetry are Love/Relationships, Mental Illness/Mental Health, Life, and Sleep. I’ve even written several poems about the act of writing poems which, again… kinda weird, I’ll admit. But those are the facts.

Digging through your archives, can you find anything you’d forgotten about? Tell me in the comments, below.

EDITED TO ADD: None of these facts and figures take into consideration my fan fiction, as it’s covered in a separate post that comes out at the end of July, each year (view last year’s here). The Cliff Notes, though, is that I’m close to finishing my third novel-length fic, have completed well over forty short stories, and have a further forty ideas (for stories of various lengths) still waiting to be penned (some of those even including poetry). Like I said, more on that in July.

Recommended Reading: Taking a Life Audit – 5 Steps for Prioritizing What’s Important

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