2021: A Writing Rearview Review

Well, a new year has dawned, but before I really find out what 2022 has in store for me, I’m gonna take a look back at 2021. Spoiler alert. This was not my best year, but I’m all about that transparency, so lets look at some numbers.

Submissions & Publications

Okay let’s start off with short story submissions, rejections, and acceptances, plus fiction and articles published. That last group includes freelance fiction I was commissioned to write as well as Rejectomancy articles at Dark Matter Magazine. We’ll be looking at the numbers from 2020 and 2021 and comparing them. It’s an interesting comparison because 2020 was one of my best years for short story submissions and 2021 was among my worst. I think it shows how wildly things like acceptances and publications can swing from year to year, even when your method and approach haven’t really changed.

2021 2020
Submissions 104 87
Rejections 87 69
Acceptances 9 19
Accept % 9.4% 21.6%
Publications 32 20

Though not my absolute worst year, 2021 was a disappointment in terms of acceptances from short story markets. Despite sending over 100 submissions, I only managed 9 acceptances. That gives me a 9.4% acceptance rate for the year, which is well below my overall acceptance rate of 14.2%. Based on that average, I should have netted about 5 more acceptances than I did. Obviously, 2020 was a stellar year in terms of acceptances, and it might be a bit naïve to expect that kind of success in a regular basis, but it’s nice to know those numbers are at least possible. 🙂

The one place I did excel in 2021 was in the total number of publication. A lot of this is due to freelance work, and I wrote 17 short stories and a short D&D adventure as a contract writer. Some of those works will roll to 2022, but more than half of them were published last year.

So, the big question is why was 2021 so much worse than 2020? Well, I have a bunch of theories, but ultimately it comes down to the usual story acceptance equation. You have to submit the right story to the right editor at the right time. I didn’t manage to do that as often in 2021. I received a lot of hold notices and close-but-no-cigar rejections, which tells me I whiffed on one of the three factors on a regular basis. Still, I can find some encouragement in those shortlist rejections, and I hope to take that into 2022.

Words, Words, Words

Okay, so the above is what I submitted, but how much did I actually write in 2021? Let’s have a look.

  • Total Written in 2021: 256,707 words
  • Fiction Written in 2021: 113,008 words
  • Total Written AND Published in 2021: 60,559 words*

*Does not include blog posts or microfiction

That total written number includes roughly 100,000 words of blog posts (ballpark), 7,159 words of microfiction (not ballpark), and about 35,000 words of new material added to novels as part of revisions (ballpark again). I haven’t included blog and microfiction totals in the past, but, hell, it IS writing, though I don’t generally consider it “published” in the same way as short stories I manage to sell or am contracted to write. Maybe that’s weird, but it makes sense to me, and, hey, these are MY numbers, right? 🙂

This is a lot of writing, though my publication numbers are only about a fourth of the total words written. I’d like to improve on that in 2022.

Night Walk

My biggest accomplishment of 2021 deserved its own section. Together with The Molotov Cocktail, I published my first collection of flash fiction entitled Night Walk & Other Dark Paths this past April. It contains 40 of my best flashes, most of which were previously published in various genre and literary magazines. Anyway, you can pick up a copy of the collection in print and eBook by clicking the awesome cover by Valerie Herron below.

Goals for 2022

My goals for 2022 are fairly specific. Here’s a quick summary.

  1. 100 submissions. This is kind of a perennial goal for me, though, honestly my best years have been those where I failed to hit that century mark. Might be something to that. Still, it’s a nice number to aim for, and it does keep me writing and submitting on the regular.
  2. Revise and submit Hell to Play. In 2020, I wrote a supernatural thriller novel called Hell to Play. I think it’s pretty good and so do my critique partners, but it’s still in need of some revision, and I just never found the motivation to get it done in 2021. I’d like to change that in 2022, complete the revision, and start querying the book with potential agents.
  3. Sell Late Risers. My other novel, Late Risers, is currently under consideration with a couple of small publishers. I’d really like to get that one sold this year. I think it’s good enough, but it’s not my opinion that matters, right? If it doesn’t get picked up by either of the two publishers currently holding it (a likely outcome), then I’ll explore other small press opportunities.

And that’s it for 2021. How was your year? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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