This year was an exercise in changing focus. Many times.
I began the year by sending out queries for a novel, and then promptly putting that novel out of my mind to focus on a new book. Then, in the summer, I turned to short stories for a bit to give the other book time to marinate. I knocked out seven stories and was rewarded with more fuel for the submission fire.
Y’all, the rejections. So many. A lot of personal rejections and a good number of holds, but a lot of rejections that left me wondering what I need to change to make it past that final hurdle. There were feelings of sad.
Then, in the space of a few weeks this fall, I found myself with an offer of rep from an awesome agent for the book that I’d fooled myself into forgetting about, plus two story sales – to be followed by a third in December. (January 8 is the release date for my story in Cossmass!)
And now I’m working on a new new book for my new agent (on whose advice I’ve stepped away from the book I was working on in the spring) for the new year. So in terms of focus, that’s… book / new book / stories / book edits / new-new book.
Which is all to say – NO, it’s NOT true that if you just stick with it then success (however that’s defined) will inevitably come. But it IS true that publishing, even short stories, is unpredictable as hell.
There are so many posts and tweets and newsletters from writers and agents and editors telling writers that they need to find their reward in the process and not the outcome. I agree with this advice, although because I enjoyed some professional wins in the back half of the year, I risk coming off as insincere in repeating it.
But I’d better repeat that advice to myself, over and over, because not every year will end the way 2022 did for me – and I want to keep writing regardless.
My short story acceptance rate for 2022 was 4.5 percent. My rate on novel queries – that’s queries that led to requests for pages – was 4.7 percent. (The novel before that was roughly 10 percent.)
See you in the new year!