How Was Your Writing Year?

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
My master plan for 2019 hinged around a return to self-publishing, which I’d first done on Smashwords in 2013. I experimented with new digital publisher Draft2Digital at the start of the year but decided to sign with Amazon KDP Select, despite my doubts about the way that Jeff Bezos runs his corporation.

As a final flourish at getting published by a traditional publisher, I decided to query a dozen of the most likely looking agents. This list grew to 88 agents, of whom only 45 deigned to reply with form letters of rejection.

I turned to improving my online presence by adding to a blog about writing, reading and publishing (based on Litopia posts) and starting a website devoted to my Cornish Detective crime series. The cyber gods decided to poo on me, as I was locked out of these two WordPress blogs through no fault of my own, then Linux ejected me based on too many backups of the operating fault, through ignorance.

I started to feel paranoid, nervous about operating anything electrical. Even flipping a light switch had me holding my breath...then, two light bulbs failed within seconds of each other!:rolleyes: I went from paranoid to feeling doomed, but, fortunately becoming officially old meant my national state pension kicked in, so fresh funds enabled me to buy a new laptop. Which was faulty:(, though Argos and eBay were so efficient at refunding me that I bought another one from them!

Firing on all cylinders again, I began writing my sixth crime novel Kissing & Killing. Still uneasy from my technical gremlins, I wrote in disconnected slabs, which five months later are finally coalescing.

With my spiffy new laptop, I was two days from self-publishing the first four Cornish Detective titles on KDP Select, when Hodder & Stoughton asked for a full manuscript of Book 5 for consideration as part of their The Future Bookshelf publishing opportunity. While pleased, it stalled my KDP Select plans, as I didn’t feel it was wise to go it alone with a traditional publisher sniffing around.

I haven’t been on tenterhooks waiting for them to respond. And, true to form with literary agents and publishers, they haven’t!

I’ve carried on writing the WIP, which makes me feel a bit like Doctor Frankenstein constructing another monster that no one wants.

Finding the BooksOffice opportunity today is the most encouraging development in publishing I’ve seen for many a year.

Writing feels like swimming an ocean with no destination in sight, while successful authors and uncommunicative agents and publishers sail past in brightly lit luxury liners.

How was your year?

What plans do you have for 2020?

My writing year wasn't the best. Not the worst, either, but after 3 years of blissful full-time writing, I had to pick up a part-time day job to help pay the bills. I'm not complaining--I recognise the luxury of my 3 years and I always knew it was temporary. Still, I'd just started to feel I was picking up good momentum. *sigh*

Anyway, in spite of only having two days a week for writing in 2019, I managed to write 2 full novels and start in on 2 more. The two finished ones won't be ready for publishing until the first quarter of 2020, but they're in the finishing stages now, so I can think of them as essentially done. The big thing I've had to let drop this year has been my short stories--I haven't written or published any in 2019, which is disappointing. Hopefully I'll do better in 2020. I've also let my focus on marketing slip, though, ironically, it hasn't affected my sales much.
I've done several more revisions on Treasureland Book 1 and thanks to the help of various Litopians, the Litopia Huddle and a 6-week online #WriteMentor course for children's writers, I feel it's on the cusp of going places (ever the optimist...well, mostly). A real high point has been the ecstatic reaction to the book by new young readers (thanks, Emily's kids!). I haven't really put the book in front of the target demographic for a while and it reminded my why I haven't lost faith in it, despite numerous rejections (mostly my fault for submitting it before it was ready...schoolgirl error). Of course, the year has been rounded off on a high point, thanks to Sunday's win on Pop-Ups with Treasureland, Book 1. :)

Meanwhile, I've also completed the first draft of a YA novel, which I've thoroughly enjoyed writing. I'm looking forward to doing more with that in 2020.
For me, it has been my first year writing full time. I've been like a dog with a bone, never letting go and making small progress bit by bit trying to get to the marrow. I have just about completed my novel and should be sending out submissions early in the new year which is a scary thought. Now I have to think what next? Not sure TBH. Like RK I have benefitted so much from finding this place. I would still be struggling with POV and hopping heads if I hadn't so thanks to all those who have taken the time to help. :)
I wrote a whole new book from notes I had been taking for two or three years. However, were it not for Litopians egging me on, I would still be at the notes collecting stage, probably for another decade :D

For 2020? Querying... querying... querying... Oh yes, I may have a go at writing another book on the US Army and General Dozier... saving that Litopians egg me on, of course.
My 2019 was ok. The latest draft of the first Athena book was rejected by lots of agents again, but I've done two more drafts of that since and now, with the help of people on here, it's the best it's ever been. I'm hoping in 2020 to get some Beta readers for this so if anyone wants to read some adult sci-fi then please let me know!

I also managed to finish the first draft of its first sequel, which is good. Though that will need a lot more work over 2020 to get it up to an acceptable standard, probably several more drafts.
2019 has been my most successful writing year by far (if not my most productive in terms of words written). I finished editing and revising my dark fantasy novel with the help of beta readers here in Litopia (whom I can't thank enough!). I'm now preparing another pile of queries to submit to agents in the new year (and maybe one to DAW while they're open to unsolicited manuscripts).

2019 has also been the year of the short story for me. I used to hate writing them and really struggled to think of ideas that could be told in a small word count. But this year something clicked, and I'm in love with writing them. Being able to knock off small projects like these has been really rewarding (and omg the pain of editing them is sooo much less than editing a novel!). I've had 8 pieces accepted/published this year, which is a record for me.

Probably the biggest highlight was getting an honourable mention in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest (even if the story is proving very difficult to place in a magazine—the market for 10,600 word stories is tiny! I might have to circle back and see if I can cut it down to under 10k).

2020 plans:
1) Try like buggery to get some interest in my novel.
2) Start writing book 2 of the series (I've been procrastinating this for the last few months).
3) Write a short story based on each zodiac for ASF's Zodiac Series. I've done 5/12 so far with no. 6 in the works (by that, I mean I have literally written one sentence, but hey, got to start somewhere right?).
4) Keep writing, no matter what.
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