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By the Numbers

It’s always interesting to look back and see how the year went — isn’t it? (Isn’t it?! Well, okay, in some respects. Not counting: how many pints of gelato consumed, or friends lost to cancer.)

But writingwise: sales, rejections, submissions, # markets to sale, published, pending, words written in total. Stories I trunked? New stories written, number of drafts, number of reprints. Here’s how 2014 breaks down for short stories:

  • 21 sales
  • 42 rejections
  • 58 submissions
  • 3 pending
  • 1 cancelled
  • 16 stories published
  • 15 new stories written (82,366 words; includes three flash (what!), one novelette, and one novella; 1 apparently-impossible-to-sell story)
  • 1 new novel begun (12,000 words)
  • 3 story reprints
  • 2 trunked

That sales number is ridiculous, and a personal all-time high. What does it mean? Probably no more than I wrote more and thus sent more out into the world. My shortest story written was 666 words (ha!); the longest was 25,000.

On average, my stories visited 4.7 markets before they sold. I had ten stories that sold to their first market; I had four stories that visited 15-21 markets before sale. 11 of the 15 new stories have sold.

You’ll notice I don’t trunk a lot. The two things I trunked this year were: a story that has pretty much hit all the markets it can for the time being, and a story that was written for a specific market and will absolutely not fit anywhere else given its subject. These may come out later, but for now, they sit.

I also don’t go through a lot of drafts. My process tends to be this:

  1. Get glimmer of idea (image, character, opening line), write in notebook;
  2. Noodle with idea a lot; handwritten brainstorming; may continue for months, but is usually much shorter;
  3. Idea will no longer shut up; write in a flood.

My first draft ends up pretty solid, given that it has had a lot of time to percolate before I pour it out. I go in knowing the beginning and the end point; we may take detours, but we know what we need to hit along the way — don’t always get there the way we planned (like in the last piece I finished), which is often a delight, because it still amazes me how a story you know can utterly surprise you.

Also, after 14 years of writing and selling, you get an idea for how a story works and needs to come together. Overnight success! Yeeees. (What’s her name again? Who?)

As good as my short story numbers look, my novels were less successful. Masque Books has declined to handle further Anubis adventures, owing to poor sales of Rings of Anubis. This is maybe something authors don’t talk about — when a book fails in terms of sales numbers, but really seems to connect with the people who do find it. It’s a terrible place to be. What does the author do?

The author writes. I still believe in the work, the universe, and am planning more — so stay tuned on that front. I hope to have news soon. Publishing has changed so we adapt and carry on, my wayward son!

I know no other way forward.

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