2023 in review

2023 in review

Boy, what a year! This is an important one for me, as it’s the first time I’ve been published in a paid fiction market! I’ve been paid for nonfiction work for awhile, and I’ve had fanfics in (free/unpaid) zines, but “being paid for original fiction” is an important milestone in my writing career.

This year, I’ve published…

  • 1 story in a fanzine (unpaid)
  • 1 story in a convention book (unpaid)
  • 1 nonfiction article in a gaming zine (paid)
  • 1 story published on an online market (paid)
  • 1 audio reprint of that con book story (unpaid)
  • 2 stories in an anthology (unpaid), and another in a different one (paid)
  • …and also sold one of those anthology pieces for another anthology as a reprint (paid) (but that’s coming out in 2024)

Which is a lot! I know it’s not as much as other people have put out, but, for my first year of “publishing for real,” I’m pretty happy with it!

I wrote, of course, and finished 9 stories: 4 flash fics, 4 short-er stories, and 1 much longer one (it’s a novelette, depending on who you ask). I had lots of ideas, too, and started some stories, but I don’t track ideas by the date I have them or how much writing I do per day, so I don’t have any nice stats on that.

But I do have a ton of stats on submitting!

Here’s a table! There’s a lot of context needed for this odd set of data…

  • Some stories were written (and, therefore, started being submitted) in 2022, so their resolutions (rejections etc.) came in 2023. Or they were accepted in 2022 but published in 2023, or the submissions hasn’t been responded to yet. This is why the numbers for some rows might not be adding up.
  • The stories are listed in the chronological order they were finished (the “year” column).
  • I only put the full title of stories that have been officially announced, as they’ve been accepted to be published. The rest are shorthand of the title, for a unique identifier.
  • The genre is the main genre the piece can be considered, but some are either too granular (fantastique, furry) or can fit into several, so that data point is the only subjective/qualitative one here. A flash fic is <= 1,000 words, a short story is anything past that.
StoryTypeLengthYearSubsRejections1Withdrawals2AcceptancesPublications
AphelionSci fi short2,9001910000
MOVE X TO Y2KFurry short1,5002131012
Moth{er}Horror short2,700222013611
CCFantasy flash940223026100
ALNTGDFantasy flash967233932000
I Saw a Dead Body TodayLiterary flash737231911511
The Fox and the UnicornsFantasy short1,5002371011
How to Survive a Draconic Business TakeoverFantasy short2,5002360021
SLiterary flash429232921000
ADSci fi short9,3002364000
AFTSci fantasy short1,2002373000
SFG (Ifhh)Sci fantasy short1,8002385000
GGFantasy flash1,0002310000
TOTAL19,4001761171266
1: Includes submissions that are presumed to be rejected, because the market doesn’t respond in case of rejection, the market went under, etc.
2: Submissions I voluntarily removed from consideration before the market could make a decision, such as if a story has been accepted elsewhere, or the vibes were off.

I wish this was Excel, so I could put in more colors and formatting for you. Or I could use an image of a table, but that would be hard for you to read, and probably awful on mobile, so we’re using an HTML table instead.

Here’s a breakdown of responses by month!

The columns are ordered from the “best” possible responses, to the worst.

MonthSubmissionsAcceptancesPersonal RsPresumed RsForm RsWithdrawnTOTAL
Jan3123
Feb10134
Mar1788
Apr14111012
May622711
Jun915511
Jul14516
Aug822610
Sep29111517
Oct1511112621
Nov2411617
Dec27321015
TOTAL17661179912135

Unfortunately, I did not receive my 100th form rejection by the end of the year. It would have been such a nice number!

If we math this out:

  • I sent out 176 submissions, and have closed out 135 of them (76%).
  • 117 closed submissions were rejections of some sort (66% of submissions, 86% of resolutions).
    • Of which 11 were personalized rejections (9% of rejections, 8% of resolutions, 6% of submissions).
    • And 7 were presumed rejected because (6% of rejections, 5% of resolutions, 4% of submissions).
  • But, hey! 6 acceptances! (4% of resolutions, 3% of submissions).
  • Which lead to me sending 12 withdrawals (8% of resolutions, 4% of submissions).
The above, but as a handy, dandy, pie-chart.

3% of my submissions were accepted! That’s actually pretty cool!

Submitting is tough. You need to have the right piece end up at the right editor, who’s at the right market, at the right time. Publication is a business, which is all a numbers game, so it’s helpful to take a step back and appreciate the full scope of the numbers involved.

I also want to have these out there for transparency for other authors. I’ve met several who gave up on submitting short stories at all after two, or even a single rejection, and it’s always such a bummer to see. Rejection, a lot of rejections, is normal and to be expected.

[Clarkesworld] puts out stats, which I really appreciate, and [this post] by the editor on writer submission stats is really great. Most writers submit once, maybe twice, get rejected, and never come back. My favorite bit of data is that, on average, a writer will receive 7.5 rejections before they make their first sale at Clarkesworld. At least one person made their first sale on their 63rd.

So, if you’re a writer reading this, don’t give up! Not on a market, or a story, or even yourself! A story will never be published it you don’t give it the chance.

Also, I have some graphs, since I love graphs so much

Submissions per story per month

Each story is a specific color. Like Moth{er} is that creamish-white, mothy color. This also illustrates when a story is finished, too, as I begin submitting once I consider a piece 100% finished. I also included all of 2022 for additional context.

It’s easier to send out more submissions when you have more things to submit. You’ll see there’s a period Q2 2023 where I didn’t send out Moth{er} at all. That’s because some markets don’t want other markets considering your story while they take a look at it. Other pieces I submit to as many markets as possible right out of the gate.

Submission resolutions

All of these graphs are made in Excel, so it’s using data that is normally for my eyes only, so you can see that I have the label for acceptances as one that is quite excited!

I was curious and decided to combine these data sets.

There were 4 months where I got more resolutions to stories than submissions sent out!

It’s common for markets to take a month or more to respond to a submission, so a large spike in submissions won’t necessarily mean a large spike in responses are coming. Some markets respond to everyone at once, and others trickle rejections over months. There is a lot of data when it comes to submitting to play with, but let’s wrap it up here.

If there’s a tl;dr to gain from this, it’s you need to submit a whole lot to get those acceptances!

I worked on novels, too!

This was the year I finally sent out my epic fantasy to agents! I do not have an agent yet, so you can guess how that’s going. But I did finish a 0th draft of my new (much more sellable) novel. I also did a bunch of legwork on the novel I want to work on after that, which ideally I will 0th draft for NaNoWriMo in 2024.

I did a lot more stuff for/with writing communities. I got into both the Furry Writers’ Guild and Codex and got more active with the California Writers Club. I did a lot of work on this website, as well as my social media. Twitter exploding really got me hustling to lay roots in other places.

I’ll be taking a class at a local school and look forward to doing formal education again. I’m in an odd situation, as I definitely know the basics of writing (both through my college minor and via first-hand experience), so free/cheap courses through places like Coursera won’t be very helpful, because they’re mostly things like “how to structure a novel,” “the three act structure,” “what is editing.” Same thing with the local community colleges. I cannot afford an MFA, nor Stanford’s continuing education courses (who has $1,000 to burn each semester?). And I can’t afford workshops, since those also are several thousand dollars (and need several weeks off of work, too). So! At least YouTube is stull free, huh?

So, in closing: 2023 went better than I thought it would! And, now that I have all the numbers, it went even better than I felt it had. Let’s work to make 2024 even better 🙂

(enjoy this wiggly gif of my werewolf ‘sona)

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