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The End of the Year Show

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Last post of the year so it's time for the traditional review of how the year has gone before looking forwards to 2011.

In summary? Pretty good year.

On the plus side I had 10 short stories, 3 flash fictions, 10 Twitter fictions and 1 poem published. My blog follower count hit 135+ when I hoped it would reach 50. The Twitter followage easily exceeded the 200 I'd hoped for. I read at least one book by somebody else each week and, perhaps most significantly, I did complete a first draft of Engn, an SF novel, averaging easily over 1000 words per writing day. It's currently around 130K and, actually, it's more like third or fourth draft as that's how I generally write ...

On the minus side, I made little headway in finding an agent interested in Hedge Witch and didn't make a sale qualifying me for SFWA membership. Sigh. Yet. I must admit I'm beginning to think that sending off unsolicited submissions to agents is an almost futile exercise. I don't feel like I've properly connected with any of them or that any have got to "know" me at all. I'm just another faceless manuscript in a mountain of manuscripts. For a time there I got rather obssessed about getting my query wording perfect, as if the thing was this magic spell I had to pronounce just so to summon up the divine being. Or that my opening sentence, paragraph, page has to be impossibly glorious, all interesting features polished away to glassy smoothness. But I don't think readers read like that in the real world. Someone tells them a book is good so they read it, even if it doesn't "hook" them in this rather puerile way from word one.

I don't blame the agents for any of this; I'm sure they're all stupidly busy. But there has to be a better way. Although, while I'm on the point, it wouldn't kill the ones that ignore you just to send an email to say they're passing would it? Isn't that, like, just polite? Or can't they spare the one second it would take? Bah.

Anyway, rant over, that's 6 out of 8 resolutions from last year achieved, but two biggies missed. Not too bad. Life would be boring if you just got everything you wanted straight away ...

As for 2011? Write1Sub1 is going to figure pretty large. I plan to write and submit 50 new stories in 2011, and SFWA qualification is certainly still on my mind. I want to knock Engn into a submissable state and also start the next novel. I'm currently thinking about which should be next, but another SF story, Godstar, is the current fave.

I'm also not going to fret so much about this blog from now on, put myself under pressure to blog regularly etc. I mean, I love Spellmaking and it will certainly still be very active. But, if I'm honest, it has on occasion eclipsed the actual writing, which it shouldn't. I aim for fewer, shorter posts (I know, I know, this is a long rambling one!)

So, onwards and upwards. I hope you all have a fantastic 2011.


  1. Congratulations on those achievements, Simon, especially finishing a draft of Engn. Don't forget you have a beta reader here if you need one.

    As for the difficulty of making an impact with agents, I agree that there has to be some better way to arrange things than this. The cruel fact is that editors were basically 'not hiring' in 2010 and by extension neither were agents. I'm hoping that 2011 will be better. Your longer fiction certainly deserves publication, and I wish you all best wishes for a new year of writing, revising, submitting and further success.

  2. Thanks Thomas and I wish you all the best for 2011 too.

    I'm very much aware that you've agreed to beta read. I'm also aware Engn has grown to, as I say, 130K words! It's a lot to ask. I want to come up with at least 1 more draft but then, if you're still interested (and I know you're busy working on TGE) I'll be in touch!

  3. It looks like it's been a very good year, despite the disappointments with Hedge Witch. Your shorter fiction is doing really well, which shows the quality of your writing. I look forward to reading more of it next year.

    Wishing you and your family a very happy new year.

  4. 2010 was a grand year for you, Simon, and I'm sure 2011 will be even better. With any luck, we'll both reach our goal of SFWA membership next year!

  5. fairyhedgehog,

    Yes, definitely a good year on balance. Your constant encouragement has been a great source of inspiration!

    Hope you have a great new year too.

  6. Milo,

    Yep, we'll both make it in 2011, no question.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Congrats on your achievements, Simon. As for the agents, I hear it's hit or miss. Have you ever considered self-publishing? I've met several authors who took this route and were very happy with the results. A couple of these writer's used self-publication as a platform and their second novels were picked up by agents. Just a thought for 2011. Wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year.

  9. Oh no, now my deleted post looks mysterious.

    Have a great New Year, Simon. I'm sure you'll get you 3 pro sales -- and Milo, too.

  10. Simon, I'm definitely still interested in reading Engn, despite the word count.

    At 130,000 words I guess Engn has probably ruled itself out as YA, but I hope I can still be useful as a commentator.

  11. Andrea,

    Many thanks for the input; it's certainly something I'm considering. An indie press would be a lovely way to go I think.

  12. Deborah,

    Yes, now I'm intrigued as to what your deleted post was! Thanks for the encouragement!

  13. Thomas,

    You'd be invaluable, I'm sure. I'd hope to cut Engn down to something nearer 100K but, yes, pretty long for YA I guess.

  14. Hey Simon.

    That sounds like a fine year and 2011 will be even better. Persperistence, brother!

    Upward and onward. SFWA, here we come.

  15. Steve,

    Persperistence is is bro! See you in the SFWA ...


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