At the end of the year, I like to check my ego with a hard dose of reality by comparing the year’s writing goals to my actual output. This exercise helps keep me honest, and frankly I like having a record to look back on in future years. Memory fades over time—this blog is my stasis pod.
On January 1st, 2017, I had two main writing goals:
- Publish something new each month — a novel, a short story, or a collection with a story of mine in it
- Write a lot of new material
Let’s see how I did on each aspect of this mission.
1. Publish something new each month
This one is simple: Mission accomplished.
I had sixteen publications in twelve months.
A few things to note…
What do I mean by a thing? I counted each novel, short story, or anthology I was in as a thing. That means that some of the 16 titles are, in fact, repeats. For example, the short story collection I published in December, Boys & Their Monsters, repackages 5 previously published post-apocalyptic adventure stories into a single volume. And my novel The Republic was originally serialized in 7 episodes that each counted as a thing.
One more caveat to keep in mind is that I learned nearly as much about marketing this year as I did about writing. As a result, a few months after the Tales of the Republic serial was collected into a single novel, I quietly rebranded it by changing the title and cover. Then I removed the old episodes from Amazon.
It was the right move from a marketing perspective, as the novel started selling better almost immediately. Anyway, since I was counting each episode as a thing, you now know why those individual episodes are crossed out on the list below.
Here’s the whole schedule with release month and word count for each.
Published by M.G. Herron in 2017
- January – The Door Below the Comic Store – 6k
- February – Wendigo – 12k
- March –
Episode 3: Perilous Journey (Tales of The Republic)
Episode 4: High Crime (TOTR)
- April – In Your Closet & In Your Head: A Monster Anthology
Episode 5: Reluctant Rebel (TOTR)
Episode 6: Early Warning (TOTR)
- May –
Episode 7: Killer Cause (TOTR)
- June – The Republic (Combined and rebranded from Tales of The Republic) – 84.8k
- July – Not Alone – 9.5k
At The Helm: Volume 3: A Sci-Fi Bridge Anthology
- August – The Alien Element – 91k
- September – Low Desert, High Mountain, Big Lizard – 10k
- October – Make Like the Roaches and Survive – 8k
- November – Centurion– 3.7k
- December – Boys & Their Monsters: Post-Apocalyptic Stories – 2k new
In total, that’s 227,000 new words published in 2017.
2. Write a lot of new material
This goal was more vague than the first. However, I still feel like I can count it as a win. If I had to score it, I’d give myself 6 out of 10; I did pretty good, but I know I have a long way to go.
That might seem harsh, but the thing about how I design my writing goals is that it’s all upside. No matter what happens, I still have more words than I started with. I call it failing forward.
Could I have done more? We’ll never know. When you look at this upside, does it really matter?
The upside of 2017
- I wrote the better part of three and a half novels.
- I wrote six new short stories.
- The majority of what I published this year was new material.
- I have two new novels in various stages of production that will be published next year.
- And I have ideas for a great many more…
Also, I want to point out that I probably could have written even more if I didn’t also take a few online fiction writing classes, and read several books on writing. By doing that reading, and watching those videos, and turning in those assignments, I learned an incredible amount about the craft of writing, and stumbled on many new insights into my own writing process.
Totally worth writing a little bit less to be a better writer and storyteller than I was at the start of the year.
What’s on deck for 2018?
I’ll have another blog on my 2018 goals in a few days. For now, I just want to say that I have many more stories to tell, and a lot of positive change is already in the work.
Here’s to a productive and fun 2018. Happy new year!
J.R. Handley says