Two More Down

Two days into this week, and I’ve received two rejections. It’s okay. I still have 13 queries out there, and will continue to submit as I’m able, what with having major computer drama going on. By the end of this month, some of my queries will start “timing out” and I can chalk them up as rejections also.

I also learned that none of my stories placed in a contest they were entered in, and that was a little discouraging. But as I said at the beginning of this year, this is not the year of giving up. This is the year of persevering. And if I can sort out my computer situation, I can finish my curriculum project and maybe have time to finish an unfinished novel in July.


Rejections are Trickling In

So, I got another rejection yesterday. Again, this is a far preferable outcome to dead silence. I still have twelve submissions out there, with more to come, and I bet most of them won’t respond at all.

Here’s another little obstacle I’ve been running into: as I do my research on agents who might be interested in the kinds of stories I write, it seems that each time I find one who seems like a really good fit, I go to their website only to find that they aren’t currently accepting submissions. So I’ve had to strike several promising options off the list.


Remember how last time I said I’d rather be rejected than ghosted by an agent? I wasn’t kidding. Today I received an email rejection of a query I sent in on the 6th of this month. Eight-day response time! In the publishing world, that is lightning speed.

Obviously, it would have been a lot more exciting to receive a request for a full manuscript instead of a rejection. But a rejection is such a relief. Now I don’t have to wonder anymore if or when I will hear back from that particular agent.

On this particular go-round, I have so far released ten queries into the wild, and this is the first one I’ve gotten a response to. I’ll continue sending out more, and will no doubt receive more rejections and more stony silences in the coming weeks.

Shotgunning Again

This time, I didn’t do quite as well as last time, because I have a lot of other stuff going on, but I did query 3 different books with 3 different agents this week. I haven’t heard back from any of the ones I queried on the last go-round, but it’s early days yet.

I do have a bit of a complaint about this process. More than half of the agents I’ve investigated for possible submissions state that if they aren’t interested in your work, they won’t respond at all. They only respond if they want to read more.

I might understand this if the system still worked via snail mail. It does take a couple of minutes to print a form rejection, stuff it in an envelope, and apply a stamp and address label. Not to mention that postage isn’t cheap.

But that world has vanished. It takes maybe thirty seconds to copy and paste a form rejection into an email, and press send. And it’s free! And it relieves a writer’s anxiety over whether to keep waiting or give up on ever hearing anything.

The assumption behind this is that an agent’s time is exponentially more valuable than mine. He or she can’t spare a few seconds to send an email rejection of a manuscript that I spent months writing, because that’s just a waste of his or her valuable time. I realize that they get massive piles of submissions, the vast majority of which aren’t at all what they’re looking for, but honestly, tasking an underling to send out form rejections would really not take that long. I would so much rather get a rejection than ongoing silence.

Shotgunning It

Remember I said I was going to focus on submitting more this year? Well, what with one thing and another, until this week I hadn’t submitted anything since December. So I settled on a bold goal. This week, I would submit five queries to five different agents.

Since I am submitting to agents in the UK, I send my submissions in at night so they’ll be in the agent’s inbox in the morning. I started Sunday night and have sent in a query each night until tonight. Five agents, four different novels.

Last year, I concentrated on querying one particular novel. Now I think, why not try several? I have plenty to choose from. The reason I didn’t do five different novels is that some of my completed manuscripts are sequels, so obviously not suitable for a first query.

Here’s my reasoning: if so many ultimately successful authors had to be rejected over a hundred times before being accepted, I’ve got to be a lot more proactive than I have been. What if it takes two hundred rejections? I don’t expect to live long enough to make it through that many at the rate of one or two a month.

So I sent out five queries this week. Next week I’ll focus on my curriculum and some other writing tasks, and then maybe do another shotgun week with five more submissions. What have I got to lose? All they can do is shoot me down . . .

I’ll let you know if I hear anything back. So far, even agents who brag about always responding within a certain timeframe haven’t responded at all. I did get one rejection, which frankly is better than the silence. The suspense is in not knowing when the “right” person will receive one of my queries.


2022 was the year I decided to stop teaching and focus on writing. Financially, it was a stupid decision. Now that the year’s over, I have compiled some statistics.

My short story anthology, Dreams & Dragons, was published in the spring (by an actual publisher). Despite advertising and a plug from a fairly well-known author, it sold only 47 copies. My total income for months of hard work was about fifty dollars.

My Amazon royalties for my memoir and my creative writing curriculum produced a similar underwhelming result.

My literature guide to Jane Eyre, which came out in the fall, apparently sold no copies at all, despite being put out by a popular curriculum publisher. Again, months of hard work led to zero income. Zero.

I submitted queries to four agents. One resulted in a rejection, and the rest never responded at all.

I wrote a new novel in 2022, the third in my middle-grade Sky Gypsies series. It came in at 51,348 words, although that will no doubt change with revisions.

Over on my main daily blog, I wrote an average of 10,327 words per month, for a total of 123,029 for the year. Despite having over a thousand subscribers, this has not translated into any interest in my fiction or memoir or curriculum. So, from a business standpoint, blogging is pointless. I do it anyway, though, because I process things by writing about them, and because the habit of recording my life has become so ingrained that I just keep doing it. And it is a way to preserve memories that would otherwise certainly be lost.

But that leaves me with an obvious question: given such incontrovertible evidence of my failures as a writer, what should I do? Here are the choices as I see them:

—I can do nothing differently. Just keep writing novels that no one will ever read or appreciate, and maybe make fifty or a hundred dollars a year (at most) from what I’ve already got out there. Almost everything I’ve written will then just die when I do.

—I can quit writing and focus on being better at something else. HA! Just kidding. I can’t actually quit writing. It appears to be essential to me as a person.

—I can do what many of my writing acquaintances do. I can self-publish my books, then spend much of my free time selling them at local craft fairs and other community events. This would boost my income to several hundred dollars a year—maybe.

—I can focus on preparing more curriculum for publication, and make more of an effort to get the word out about it. I have TONS of curriculum that I wrote myself during the years I spent teaching. But considering the curriculum I wrote that was put out by a respected publisher didn’t sell any copies at all, this seems like a huge waste of effort.

—I can step up my submitting game, spend the time doing research and submitting to targeted agents at the rate of at least a couple a month, in the hopes that at some point my persistence will pay off, while still working on new material. I know there are many successful authors who were rejected over a hundred times before finally finding an agent and/or publisher who loved their work. I don’t feel I can refuse to keep submitting until I’ve racked up at least a hundred rejections. But at the same time, it’s a soul-destroying process for sure.

Therefore, I’m giving myself a time limit. I will go all out on submitting this year, and then, when 2024 rolls around, I will re-evaluate. Perhaps I will revisit the idea of self publishing. The reality is, I can’t be happy selling a handful of copies of my books. I do actually need to make money. The reduction in our income (after my husband quit his second job) has created some strain for sure. I will be looking more seriously into online employment while I continue to submit queries. Right now, 2023 seems very intimidating.


I sent in a query on Monday of this week, and it was rejected on Thursday (yesterday). In the publishing world, that is lightning speed. Sure, it’s discouraging—but this is the first response of any kind I’ve gotten this year. At least I know they read it and decided it wasn’t for them.

And this is good in the sense that it doesn’t leave me hanging, like my other submissions this year. I don’t have to allot any mental bandwidth to wondering if I’m ever going to hear from them. Instead, I can channel my energies into picking another agent to query and going through with it.

I’m trying to adopt the attitude that each rejection brings me one step closer to the person who’s going to love my stories and want to see them in print. Because I do believe that person exists.

Day 29

I am victorious! I’m sorry I didn’t post word counts daily. By the time I finished writing on my novel every night, and wrote an entry in my other blog, I was just too tired to post to this blog as well.

This novel, tentatively titled Simon Down Under, came in at 51,338 words, which is about normal for a middle-grade story. I expect it to grow a little with revising. As they say, write in haste, revise at leisure! It is the third book in a planned five-book series, and my ninth finished novel.

Of course, I won’t be revising anytime soon. I need to let this sit for at least a month or two so I’ll be able to look at it with fresh eyes and identify any potential plot holes.

My dilemma is that this feels like a pretty big achievement, and one worth celebrating, but . . . I have no one to celebrate with. Not a single person that I am close to has even the slightest interest in my writing. If I mention that I’ve just written a novel in one month, the most likely response is something like, “Oh, cool,” with the implication, “please don’t force me to listen to you talk about it.”

So, I just had a nice big mug of tea like I do every afternoon. And I will channel my energies into submitting some of my previous novels, which have been thoroughly revised already.

Day 14

I have struggled the last few days and have been too tired to post, but I’m keeping pace—just barely. My plot is going faster than I expected so I will have to think up some new complication. BUT I passed the halfway mark today. I wrote 2288 words and my total for the month is 26,336. So that is a relief.