Some 34-Year-Old Yahoo's Writing Statistics
My writing chair, under my inspiration lamp
When I tell the people in my life that I am taking an honest-to-goodness, aw-shucks crack at selling a novel, it feels a little bit like announcing that I am going to train to be an astronaut, or a professional jazz flautist. I’m a mid-30s dude with two kids. I already have a very pleasant career. I’m balding with increasing gusto. I don’t care for heights and I don’t remember ever touching a flute. It’s sometimes embarrassing to reveal that I've set this goal, as if this sort of dalliance is something silly creative folks should have gotten out of their systems in their 20s.
Just to be clear, that embarrassment is all classic writers’ insecurity, as my people have been nobly supportive and helpful. They’ve read my manuscripts and blog posts, offered big high fives when I’ve experienced nibbles on my work, and, what I appreciate most of all, listened as I jabber on relentlessly about what I have accomplished and what I have yet to accomplish.
So, here are the statistics of my pursuit of writing fiction professionally so far. For my friends and family, this might be interesting in a sort of what-I’ve-been-up-to way. For other aspiring writers, I know comparing this data to your own experience can be reassuring and motivating. For myself, I will delight in what I have accomplished so far, even while I have such a long way to go.
Manuscript #1 – Oppurntyville
– Sometime in 2002, got serious in November 2013
– March 2014
Query letters sent (to agents)
– 97 (42 rejections, 42 no responses, 13 still outstanding; 1 partial request from an unsolicited query – rejected; 1 full request from a publisher via a Twitter pitch contest – still outstanding)
Query letter rewrites
– Perhaps this is more of a second novel. After I hear back from the remaining queries (assuming no one is interested), I will set this project aside, perhaps for a big revision someday, or perhaps as that first novel that exists only in my drawer.
Manuscript #2 – Gravity Lessens
– March 2014
– November 2014
– 10 (1 partial request, 9 still outstanding)
– Hope flourishes for project number two. My first response to an unsolicited query was a request for pages. That is huge. Is there another word for huge? Huge. This is where I shall be focusing for a big chunk of 2015.
Other writing efforts
– I have prepared four short stories, three brand new, one adapted from a chapter in Gravity Lessens. I have entered them in several contests that announce their finalists in March/April. I shall continue submitting them to journals until they find a home.
– I have two super cool ideas, and have started taking notes on both.
– I’m at 16 posts, most of which are things I’ve written before, but I’ve added pictures and videos and, let’s face it, hilarious commentary. I am creeping up to 1000 page views.
– I’ve gotten serious about a Twitter account, with almost 100 tweets, two novel pitch contests, and several dozen followers.
I already have my dust jacket photo. Nailed it.
– I’ve always read, but I am rediscovering the rewards of tearing through books, instead of plodding through them like I have been for several years. I’ve also devoured many of the canonical books on writing (Stephen King’s On Writing, Self Editing for Fiction Writers, etc.)
Is this what it takes to earn an agent and sell a novel? I haven't the foggiest. But none of these steps will make me a worse writer less deserving of a publishing deal, so, that’s good news. Here we go, 2015…