Archive for the ‘Writing Goals’ Category

10
Apr

It’s been a while

I haven’t blogged in quite a long time, but I’m still writing, still busy–busier than ever, in fact. I’m still writing short fiction every day, but my focus has shifted from submitting to self-publishing. Under names you probably wouldn’t recognize, I self-publish erotic romance and similar genres.

I used to be wholly against self-publishing. I thought that was what failed writers did to feel better. I cringe writing that now, but I’m being honest. If you couldn’t get published (probably because you weren’t good enough to), you self-published. My thinking on this has evolved quite a bit, obviously. :)

It began as an experiment well over a year ago, just to see what it was like and see if I could make a few bucks here or there. It wasn’t under my name, so if something tanked, who cared? I put the first story up not expecting much. Maybe I could buy a dollar burger or a pack of gum or something. I made several hundred dollars in my first month, and I’ve never looked back.

Self-publishing has become almost my entire income in the last few months. I no longer write for the two clients I worked for during all of 2012 for various reasons. Both those associations ended at almost the same time, which would have been a very bad thing a couple of years ago. It would have left me scrambling for new clients, popping Advil for stress headaches, and hoping to squeak by until I found work. Thanks to self-publishing, I was able to shrug it off and then see it as an opportunity.

Instead of spending time finding new clients to fill the gaps, I decided to give myself a trial-period for full-time self-publishing. I planned to take the time I would have spent looking for new clients and writing for them and invest that time in myself and my own career instead. I’m making enough each month to be able to try this, which still amazes me. If my income isn’t where I want it to be by the end of June or so, I told myself, I’ll contact some potential clients and go back to writing marketing copy.  I fully expect not to have to do that.

I’m extremely lucky in that it would be okay if I went back to marketing and sales writing–I like the work, as repetitive as it can be at times, it’s just that writing fiction is more fun, has been my dream for years and actually pays better in the end. The hours spent writing a story, creating the ebook formats and publishing it don’t pay once like articles and web copy I write for other people does. I keep getting paid for the fiction as long as it’s for sale.

Since my goal is to keep increasing my income, the stories that I plan to self-publish have to be my  focus for a while. Horror, science fiction and fantasy stories aren’t in my publishing empire (ha) quite yet. My plan is to take each story, send it to the best markets that are appropriate, and if it doesn’t sell, decide whether to self-publish it or give it another look. I suppose that decision will depend on a number of factors: the story, how I feel about it, its theme. I won’t know until I get there.

It’s an exciting time! My participation in W1S1 in 2011 primed my short fiction pump and made it possible for me to write and built a catalog fairly quickly. So that experiment really set the stage for my success now, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

 

 

04
Sep

Day 4 of the September Flash Blast

And what have I learned? Mostly that writing this way isn’t for me. Or more accurately, writing this way and then showing it to someone isn’t for me.

I can write a first draft very quickly. That’s how I normally do it. But then I don’t show it to people in the state it’s in 75 minutes after I started it. I put it aside for a bit and then I revise it. The last 4 days have not changed my mind away from that being a great idea.

My better stories are written quickly, but they’re not called done in an hour and fifteen. Considering the first two stories I sent were called, by the same person, incomprehensible (both stories after three reads, no less), and the third I sent with one character named James who later became Lawrence, I should not send anything out that quickly. Bad mistake the name thing, yes, but he’s referred to as James once in the first paragraph and then Lawrence/Larry the rest of the time. Confusing, sure, but not impossibly so. Calling him Larry added extra confusion because apparently it comes as a shock to some that Larry is short for Lawrence? I have no idea. Given these things, clearly the rush of it and I don’t mix. Good on those that do well with it; that’s just apparently not me.

Still, it’s been fun, and I got some new stories out of the mix, for what they’re worth (which I think isn’t much). I haven’t decided if I’ll continue next week, but I do hate to stop something once I’ve started.

29
Aug

Rooftop Cage up at Seven by Twenty (7×20)

My cinquain Rooftop Cage (and wee bio) went up at Seven by Twenty (7×20) today. Long before I submitted it, several poems and micro-fictions were selected for the anthology 140 and Counting. A few writers never returned their contracts, so I was asked if the cinquain could be included in the anthology. I sent the contract this morning. That was a fun little bonus! I have another tiny thing going up at 7×20 next week, as well. It appeared in Nanoism a couple of months ago.

In other news, the story I got a tiny start on this month, The Listeners, is shelved for the moment. Instead, I wrote a short story in about an hour as practice for the previously mentioned September Flash Blast. And my, I’m out of practice. I love writing to prompts and I love timed writing, but I’ve done it all of once in the last few years or so. I think the story I produced has a lot of potential, though, so I’m editing it now and hoping to submit soon. I don’t want to tinker too long. I did get my one story written for August, at least, but I doubt I manage anymore.

I also have some notes on the next story I definitely want to write, which won’t be the rest of The Listeners. I think that one will have to wait a short while, since my aim is to “flash write” at least 20 times in September, though I’m really hoping for at least once a day.

25
Aug

September Flash Blast at Boot Camp Keegan

Alex Keegan runs Boot Camp, a no-nonsense place where writers write, crit, analyze and learn. Anyone who knows me and has discussed much writing with me knows that Alex wrote one of my favorite short stories of all time, Ballistics, which is now available in his collection of the same title. I won’t do a whole bio here–he’s a novelist who’s written scads of short fiction and won many awards doing so. You’d also be hard-pressed to find someone more enthusiastic about fiction.

Boot Camp is a paid program, but Alex is running a September Flash Blast that doesn’t cost anything–no strings, nothing like that–for those who want to commit to writing short fiction throughout the month of  September. Here’s how it works:

  1. You commit to writing a minimum of 20 short pieces of serious, general fiction during the month (it’s not the place for pure genre), though preferably you should aim for at least 1 per day, so 30+.  These are usually flashes less than 1,000 words or so, just based on time constraints.
  2. A couple times a day, Alex will post a list of prompts. These are often obscure words, bizarre phrases, unusual things designed to poke your subconscious.
  3. When you read the prompts, you have a maximum of 75 minutes to write and edit your story. Read anytime you like, but don’t read until you have the 75 minute window. If you read the prompts, think about them all day and write something that night, you’re missing the point and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
  4. Email your finished stories to Alex, who will then post them all anonymously in a protected part of the Boot Camp board.
  5. Comment on posted stories. No one expects an in-depth critique, but you are expected to read and comment. Comments will probably be blunt, so you have to be able to handle that reasonably well.
  6. Discuss. There’s a forum reserved for discussions and disagreements about craft that arise from the posted stories. Discussion is highly encouraged.

 

The concept is fast writing, “drunk writing” as Alex calls it, writing from the gut. I’ll let Alex explain it in his own words.

I think there are 8 or 9 people signed up for the challenge as of right now, but the more, the better. If you’re interested, you’ll need to sign up for a Yuku account (it’s free).

Boot Camp Keegan

Most of the board is locked because it’s full of forums where the paid Boot Campers work, but the Flash Blast forums are public, aside from the one where the stories will be posted.

Here are some stories produced during these types of blasts:

Paper Bird, Bomber, Words & Silence, several stories from the 2004 session

If you’re interested in the actual Boot Camp, you can let Alex know on the board. I know at various times he’s offered the first month free of charge, but I’m not sure if that’s ongoing. It can’t hurt to ask, if you’re interested. Boot Campers write a minimum of one short story every two weeks–again, general fiction, not pure genre. Those are posted anonymously and critiqued by every other Boot Camper according to Alex’s grid scoring system.

I will say that Boot Camp is a busy, steamy kitchen so if you wilt easily in heat, you’ll have to toughen up. I was a member for about 6 months in 2004, and saw more than a couple people throw tantrums and quit after their first critiques. Thick skin is necessary, but you’ll need that anyway if you intend to keep writing, right? I quit because a sort of double-tragedy struck at home and I couldn’t commit myself to it anymore, but even then I did not want to go. It was a great experience for me, so if serious fiction is your focus and you want an intense writing and learning experience, you should think seriously about trying it.

But even if not, consider the September Flash Blast! At the very least you’ll have some new material to work with come October 1st, but I’m sure you’ll get far more out of it than that.

 

 

06
Aug

Writing/Rejection/Acceptance Statistics

When I created this website last year, it was with the intention of motivating myself to have something more than old publications to actually put on it. I’ve achieved that. Now I hope that someone on the cusp, wanting to submit but unsure, might be prompted to give it a go. That’s really the purpose for chronicling everything. It’s not so much for me–though it is nice to look over things when I feel a bit glum–but for others to see the process.

Given that, here are some statistics from my W1S1 experimenting so far this year.

  • As of today, August 6th, 86 submissions this year, 23 acceptances (one a contest win, not a publication, so 22 publication acceptances) with 15 of those written this year. I currently have 10 things out to 10 different markets.  I’ve had 7 withdrawals for various reasons, and 45 rejections.
  • Of 22 acceptances, 12 of those were accepted by the first market I sent them to.
  • Of 86 submissions, submissions I made without reading at least something from the publication I was submitting to: 2, only because those were new markets with nothing yet published.
  • The first 4 things I submitted this year were accepted by the first markets I submitted them to.
  • Of the first 7 things I submitted, 6 were accepted by the first market. My 5th submission was rejected, but #6 and #7 were accepted first time out. Those were submitted in February.
  • That was the last time that two things sent consecutively were accepted at those markets until the two recent submissions from July 28th and 29th, which were both accepted about a week later.
  • My first 7 acceptances of the year were to the first markets the pieces were sent to. Getting those 7 acceptances on pieces submitted in Jan and Feb took until the end of May. Acceptance number 8 broke that streak.
  • I have yet to have a story accepted on its 4th time out. I’ve had 12 accepted the first time out, 6 accepted the 2nd time out, 2 accepted the third time out and 2 accepted the 5th time out. Smoke and Drum and When They Come were both rejected 4 times before being picked up. They’re my most rejected published pieces.
  • My most rejected piece so far (ever, not just this year) is Sounds on Blacktop. It’s been rejected 5 times, and is currently at market #6.
  • There are 4 pieces that were rejected that I haven’t resubmitted for various reasons. Every other rejected piece has been submitted at least twice.
  • 12 of the rejections were personal rejections, that had comments about the story inside. The rest were form, or probably form.
  • The longest time a story has been out before acceptance is 100 days. The longest one has been out before rejection is 69 days.
  • Smallest number of submissions in a month: 4
  • Month with the most submissions: March, with 37
  • The longest streak of acceptances received in a row: 4 between April11th and 24th
  • The longest streak of rejections received ina row: 19 between March 2nd and March 31st. I then got 2 acceptance on the 31st, or the entire month of March would have been a wash.
  • Month with the most rejections: March 21 (two came in after an acceptance on the last day)
  • Month with the most acceptances:  April, with 6
  • Months with no acceptances: 0
  • New stories written this year that haven’t been edited and submitted yet? 13
  • Old stories that are close but haven’t been final edited/submitted yet: 5
  • Of the 45 rejections, how many really, really bothered me: 1. I still resubmitted within the hour.

 

What does all that mean? Not much, really, except that the more you have out there, the better your chances of publication, and the less you’ll focus on individual rejections. And it certainly can’t hurt to actually read the kind of stuff you’re writing, from the publications in which you’d like your stuff to appear. That is all. Go submit something!