Publishing stories is a multi-step process. While I’m sure many people have different versions of this process, I break it down into three steps: (1) write the story, (2) finish the story, and (3) submit the story.
If a breakdown occurs in any of the steps, a story never gets published. If I don’t publish, then I will never make it as a professional writer, which is my long-term goal. In the sciences (my day job), this is referred to as “publishing or perishing.” For professional writers, “publish or perish” is tattooed on the forehead.
When I developed my writing goals for this year, I took each of these three steps into account. I set a daily word target to give me a goal for writing stories. I set a target number of finished, submittable stories. Finally, I set a target number of submissions and/or sales.
I set a modest target of forty submission for this calendar year. That’s less than a submission a week, or if I meet my story-writing goals of ten finished stories, an average of four submissions per story. Of course, the number of submissions is directly related to the number of stories in circulation. Selling a story quickly reduces the number of possible submissions, so I also set a goal for sales—sales are my end target, after all. I chose what I thought was a fairly ambitious target of four story sales.
Since January 1, I’ve made thirty-two submission and three story sales. My three sales have been to good pro markets that I doubted I would break into, so in some ways, I feel like I have already exceeded this goal. But I won’t let myself get complacent—I want to shatter this goal and set a high bar for next year.