The Numbers Game

I think about submissions a lot. Not just figuring out what I will send where next, but bigger picture stuff like how many submissions is “normal” or “enough.” How many acceptances equals success. Torturous questions like that, that don’t really have a real (i.e. definitive) answer. I adore definitive answers. Objective feedback. Hard and fast rules that tell me when things have worked and when they haven’t. With such a mindset, it’s hard to know why and how I ended up writing for a living – where I’m not sure certainty ever happens – but, you know, such is life.

Further to thinking about submissions a lot, I have this one particular friend (hi, Elizabeth!) I talk about submissions with a lot. She’ll come over for tea and a chat, and that chat will almost always turn to which journals are open, who has a good reputation for replying fast (or at all), and whose guidelines are completely incomprehensible.

Even further to this, it has not been unknown for me to start making notes during these chats or periods of intense thought. I will often look up my submission folder in my email inbox, or pull up one of my many spreadsheets. But in all this, I wondered, has anyone else perhaps looked into the submission process more thoroughly? Has anyone ever sat down and researched the stats behind this seemingly mysterious process of firing your word babies out into the void, hoping one of them will land somewhere and… I’m not honestly sure where I was going with this metaphor, ‘word babies’ is maybe one of the worst phrases I’ve ever written and I apologise, but I’m sure you catch my meaning.

It’s all well and good to torture yourself, wondering if the five submissions you made yesterday were “enough,” or if that one you spent two weeks on a month ago was “worth it.” I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be much more effective to torture yourself by the cruel and unusual means of comparison? Continue reading

Summer Writing Update

My last writing update was in March. Before lockdown. Before George Floyd was murdered and the Black Lives Matter movement took to the streets again. Before so many things, most of them stressful and traumatic (and some of them both).

The world has changed in some ways, stayed frustratingly the same in others, and we all are struggling on. So, let’s catch up.

I’m going to be talking about my reading and writing for the first half of the year in this post, but I recently shared a health and fertility update here, if you’re interested. And if you want to read about my response to the BLM movement, see here and here.

Reading

Sadly, because of the aforementioned global shitstorm, there is not a lot to report here. I am currently four books behind in my reading target for the year – 28 books read so far out of 65 (43%) – but am confident I can and will catch up.

Writing

Shockingly, I have been writing more than ever. I genuinely don’t understand how or why this has happened, because I’ve lost count of the number of times in the past three months where I’ve been close to tearing my hair out with frustration at my supposed lack of words. (As my long-suffering husband can attest.)

Here is a little breakdown in stats:

  • January – 9,000 words
  • February – 29,000 words
  • March – 24,000 words
  • April – 28,000 words
  • May – 32,000 words
  • June – 22,000 words

Overall, that’s 144,000 for the year.

Obviously the numbers are a little rounded, but compare them to last year when I wrote a total of 166,000 words over the course of the full twelve months, and 2018 when I wrote 146,000. It makes me wonder what word count I’d be sitting with right now if the world wasn’t on fire.

But what I will note is that, despite the steep rise in my word count, the projects I’ve been working on are not what I had intended right at the start of the year. For the most part, I haven’t really had the brainpower to work on “original” fiction, instead sticking well inside my comfort zone of fanfic.

Going forward, I have some plans, uh… planned. July is Camp NaNoWriMo, for which I have set my monthly goal to 30,000, but outside of that I’m keeping my writing goals for the rest of 2020 fairly quiet. Things are going on in the background, but it’s too early to talk about them yet. By the time my end of year update comes out, all will be revealed, so stay tuned! And please let me know how your writing is going.

‘Till next time!

Literary Audit March 2020

I was going to put up a post with tips for working from home today but… well, it’s my birthday and – honestly – I want something a bit more fun. Indulge me, will you, dear reader?

It’s been four years since I first conducted an audit of all the words I’d ever written (original post linked here), and it’s fair to say a lot of my stats have changed since then, with some projects being finished, some scrapped, new ones being taken on etc. I’ve of course shared bits and pieces of statistics between then and now, but not all of them in a singular post – until today!

Going forward, I might do a yearly update to help track my progress, but for now, let’s get onto the figures.

Note: I’m not including my previous self-published poetry and short story collections in my list of book projects, because at this stage I’m really trying to pretend they don’t exist. A line in the sand has been drawn and I’m moving on.

Writing Project Master List

Memoir: WIP*

Novels: 2 Complete, 7 WIPs

  • Family Ties Trilogy
  • Death Girl
  • Rain After Fire
  • Family Secret
  • Holes
  • Sasha
  • A Man Convinced

Short Story Collection: WIP

Short Stories (individual): 66 Total, all Complete

  • 3 Awaiting Publication
  • 4 on Submission
  • 16 Ready to Submit
  • 43 Published (by self or otherwise)

Continue reading

The Idea Graveyard Part Two

I get a lot of story ideas. In the past, I’ve talked about how I deal with them all: metaphorically, by making them queue up and wait their turn, and practically via the use of lists and spreadsheets. But even with this mindset and those tools, it can still be a lot to manage. Sometimes – and it breaks my heart to say this – it is best to just let an idea go.

I was greedy for a long time, so obsessed with fears of ‘the one that got away’, that I tried to not give up on any idea. Ever. No matter how much it didn’t work. But that, as I’m sure you can guess, is unsustainable.

Once upon a time, I had a long list of maybe twenty or more blog posts I wanted to write, forty poems, and dozens of short stories. It stressed me out because, deep down, I knew my output wasn’t big enough and that the backlog was only going to grow. Not only that, but all the blog posts, poems, and short stories were keeping me from the novels I wanted to write.

To save myself from the insanity, I’ve had to learn to prioritise even more; not just making the stories queue up and wait their turn, but actually turning some of them away. It’s been difficult, but my master list of works in progress is finally starting to look manageable.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not entirely where I want it to be, but substantial progress has definitely been made. This has taken literal years. I used to have three blogs instead of just this one. When I merged two of them and scrapped the other one entirely, that was a big step. As of right now, I have ideas for three future blog posts. Three is a number I’m comfortable with.

In place of my list of forty-plus poems I wanted to write, I easily have forty poems. The backlog on those is completely cleared to the point that if I get a poem idea, I can write it then and there without wondering to myself if I should finish a different one first. Continue reading

Six-Month Stats Round Up

It’s a new week at the start of a fresh month. We’re now entering the second half of 2019 and, personally, I’m excited. But before I jump headlong into the next round of CampNaNoWriMo, it’s time to look back. I said I’d be more open with my stats, going forward, so here we go:

Books Read

  • 31 out of my goal of 60 for the year = 52%
  • So, just ahead of target. That’s a win.

Words Written
(Rounded to the nearest thousand)

  • January: 4,000
  • February: 6,000
  • March: 6,000
  • April: 37,000
  • May: 12,000
  • June: 13,000
  • Total = 78,000

Continue reading

PitMad March 2019 Results

Yesterday – Thursday the 7th of March – was the latest round of #PitMad, a Twitter event in which novelists pitch their books to agents and publishers. I had dabbled in the past, deciding last minute to take part without giving it a lot of thought.

This time, I prepared. I pre-wrote my tweets. I scheduled the date in my diary. I double checked the timezone difference. (PitMad being mainly an American thing.)

Do things like this actually work and secure people publishing deals? Sometimes, yes.

Someone – last year I think it was – shared information of what they tweeted and how far they got with it. I find it fascinating to look at this data alongside success stories and crunch the numbers.

Naturally, I put together some stats for my own experience. I wondered if there was any point in sharing it – it’s a fairly niche set of information, of importance really only to me – but, hey, why not? I found that other person’s findings interesting. If no one else connects with this post, no harm, no foul.

But enough preamble. Continue reading

Five Years Writing FanFic!

When I first heard about fanfiction, I thought it was a fantastic idea. I didn’t start reading it right away, however, and I told myself I was not – absolutely categorically NOT – going to start writing it.

Why? Because I recognized it for the rabbit hole it was. I knew that if I started I wouldn’t be able to stop.

Regardless of knowing that in advance, though, and no matter how much I told myself I wouldn’t give in, temptation finally got the better of me.

And, as it turned out, I was right. Fan fiction kind of took me over, just like I thought it would. Do I regret that, speaking from my place now five years down the line? Nah! It gave me a lot of writing experience I wouldn’t have had otherwise and, aside from all that, it was fun!

It’s still fun.

If and when I get traditionally published, I plan to continue with fanfic on the side. Granted, I’ll no doubt have a lot less time to devote to writing in other people’s worlds, with other people’s characters, when I’m also trying to focus on my own, but I’m no longer in denial. I’ll still dabble any chance I get.

Continue reading

Four Years of Fan Fiction

On this day, every year, I post some stats about fan fiction I’ve written; today being July 28th – exactly four years since I started writing it. You can view my stats for 2016 here, and 2015 here.

When I started, it was only Buffy fanfic, and it was only posted in a single place: Elysian Fields. After a year, I started sharing work to FanFiction.net and dipping my toe into other fandoms, also. Last year I decided to re-edit my back catalogue and stick it all up on Archive of Our Own. That is still a work in progress, as you’ll see below.

Total Words Written: 320,000
Words Posted to AO3: 100,000

On EF, I have left over 1,000 reviews totalling 50,000 words, and 84 people have favourited me.

130 people have favourited me on FF, and I’ve left 150 reviews there.
Total views to my FF profile page: over 10,000.

I have almost 500 ‘Kudos’ on AO3. Hits are over 12,000, subscriptions over 100, and 69 bookmarks (honestly, I don’t really know the difference between subscriptions and bookmarks, but I post the details here for reference anyway).

I’m not even going to begin trying to count how many reviews I’ve received, because it was in the thousands last year and it took me forever to total. Needless to say, though, I’m feeling pretty pleased with what I’ve accomplished.

End of Year Reading and Writing Audit 2016

Before I let myself get too carried away with excitement for the new year, I thought I should wrap up the one that’s coming to a close. For context and comparison, here is my ‘year in review’ post from 2015.

Earlier in 2016, you might remember I carried out what I called a “literary audit.” Since then, I’ve been keeping much better track of what I write. It’s been good to look back and it certainly makes posts like this a heck of a lot easier! Anyway, without further ado…

This month I wrote 4,000 words. During the entire year, I wrote over 100,000 – can’t say exactly because, like I said, I only started taking note part way through the year (it was 95,000 words total, April – December). I do know I wrote 55,000 words of fanfic (January – December) and a hell of a lot of poetry.

December saw me devouring four audiobooks, a Kindle short, and a novel-length fanfic, leaving my books read for the year at 54 (off a goal of 45). Goodreads have laid all my stats out in a handy chart, here.

Personal Highlights for Twenty Sixteen:

Finally, 2017 Goals:

  • Get married
  • Read 50 books
  • Join the Society of Authors
  • Get a literary agent
  • and a cat
  • Take an official proofreading course

Also: In a bid to catch up on my ‘to be read’ pile, I’ve decided to not buy any new books for the first six months of 2017. I can still loan out books from the library, however, and I’m allowing myself to continue getting one audiobook a month during this time.

I am so excited for this!

Fan Fiction Milestones 2016

FanFic AnniversaryNow three years from when I started writing fan fiction, it’s time for another round-up of statistics. For comparison, you can see last years post here.

One thing that’s happened since my last update that I should mention is that I’ve joined Archive of Our Own.
So, I’m currently going through all my fanfic, re-editing and crossposting it there.

Basic Stats:

  • Over 8,500 Profile Views | Fanfiction.net
  • Received over 500 Reviews | Fanfiction.net
  • Received over 1,500 Reviews* | Elysian Fields
  • 107 Followers | Fanfiction.net
  • On the Favorite Author List of 99 Members | Fanfiction.net
  • On the Favorite Author List of 67 Members | Elysian Fields

I Have Written:

  • Over 270,000 words of Fanfiction for Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series
    (70,000 in the last year)
  • About 5,000 words of Fanfic for Other Fandoms
  • Over 850 Reviews, Totaling 40,000 words | Elysian Fields
  • Over 150 Reviews | Fanfiction.net
  • 13 “Challenges” | Elysian Fields

I Have Currently:

  • 44 Completed Stories for the Buffy Fandom**
  • 6 Completed Stories for Other Fandoms
  • 42 Works in Progress for Buffy Fandom
  • 1 Works in Progress for Other Fandoms

Awards Since Last Year:

  • Runner Up: Best Beta | Sunnydale Memorial Fan Fiction Awards (Round 32)
  • Best Crossover (with a TV show) | SunnyD Fanfic Awards (Round 32)
  • Best Quickie Fic | SunnyD Fanfic Awards (Round 32)
  • 2015 Challange Month Participant | Elysian Fields
  • 2015 Holiday Fic Challange Participant | EF
  • 2015 Holiday Review Challange Participant | EF

*This is calculated to the best of my ability. There were a lot to count, and there might be a small degree of human error, hence why I’ve rounded numbers down.

**For this statistic, I’ve combined series and counted them once.