As so many others do at this time of year, this past week I’ve been reflecting back on the dumpster fire that was 2020. Not from a personal or political standpoint, but an authorial one.
Last year was the year I started tracking sales of my short stories, a category all the experts say is a hard sell. While I would have preferred to see higher numbers than I did, I was pleased every time someone took a chance on my writing. While I would have preferred more of those readers leave reviews, at least I did not get bad reviews. Self-publishing short stories, especially in the Speculative Fiction and Western genres, is always a crap-shoot, and I’m satisfied with the lessons I learned from my experiment.
One of the other things I learned last year is just how difficult it is to make new connections with new readers. I focused much more on my blog and newsletter over the past twelve months, and my mailing list saw a small increase in folks trusting me with their inboxes. I also dabbled a little more in flash fiction and even sent a couple of pieces out to flash fiction magazines. Both pieces were rejected, but both markets have high refusal rates so I tried not to let their rejections sting too much.
I also invested more in learning my craft. The writing craft has more layers than baklava, and I don’t think writers ever stop learning. The past year saw me dedicate more time and focus on becoming a better writer. I reached out into the professional law-enforcement world and made connections with folks who answered so many questions about forensics, the law-enforcement world in general and how things were done in law-enforcement here in Canada. Because I want to be sure that I’ve done all I could to write my made-up worlds with as much accuracy as I can. My readers deserve that.
I also submitted my mystery novel to a publisher. It was very politely declined and so I’ve been working on strengthening, adding layers and elements I thought of after it had left my hands (as is always the way) and just generally trying to make it stronger.
To my way of thinking, 2020 was the year of lessons. Not as successful as I’d hoped, but definitely not a failure either.
Looking forward, I’ve already decided on my goals for 2021.
- Collect all my “Frizzle” dragon stories and compile them into an anthology. Release these in time for Easter.
- Finish the rewrite on “Body In The Bush” (previously referred to as ‘the mystery’)
- Collect and compile all my “darker” short stories and flash fiction into an anthology in time for Halloween
- Outline the sequel to Body In The Bush
- Collect all my holiday stories into a holiday anthology and release in early December
- Build a collection of writing for my (still fledgling) Patreon patrons
- Continue to develop my writing craft
I think all of that should keep me fairly busy.
What goals would you like to reach for in the New Year? Let me know in the comments below, or in an email if you’d prefer.(firstname.lastname@example.org) Either way, I’d love to hear from you!