My So-Called Freelancing Life in Review: 2017

 

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Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

 

It’s that time of year where I like to take stock of where I got/failed to get writing-wise. This is my third annual report of this nature, and you can check out last year’s report here.

So, first the stats. My numbers actually look somewhat similar to last year. Here is a side-by-side comparison for your viewing pleasure:

I would have guessed I pitched/submitted a lot less than the previous year, but turns out, it was pretty similar. I did bundle two or three pitches into one email more than I have in the past (to editors that I knew were open to it), and the pitches/submissions weren’t unique (so sometimes it’s sending the same thing out multiple times). My acceptance rate looks like it is slightly improving, but it really depends on the type of pieces and publications you are sending, so I don’t know that it says much.

I tend to focus on lowlights, so it was good to look back at some highlights from the year:

  • National print pieces. I had 3 pieces appear in Parents print this year — my first national print pieces. I had been trying to break into national print mags since pretty much forever, so it was great to hit this goal. I think one of my most shared pieces of the year was this digital version of one of the articles.
  • Goal pubs: I also published in some goal pubs this year like Real Simple digital and The Rumpus.
  • !!! acceptances: When I enter a pitch response on my Excel tracking sheet, if it’s a yes I am particularly excited about, I sometimes put an exclamation point by it. See how I make Excel sheets fun? In any event, I had six “yes” responses that I put the “!” by this year, which is pretty cool because some years I have one to zero. One such piece was this humor piece for the Wash Post.

LOWLIGHTS:

  • 2017 rejects: I got rejections (or silence) from 3 of the 4 pubs I had on my goal list to submit to in 2017. All of those pubs also had the words “New York” in the title, so next year I should probably try pitching to pubs with a different location in the title: Nebraska? Delaware? Manitoba? The 4th pub was not able to reject me since I never pitched them — so that was smart.
  • More visual work: I had set this as a goal and didn’t do the best with it this year, although I did create the above stats chart. Impressive, I know.
  • Research pieces: I had set a goal to do two, and I only did one.

2018 GOALS:

  • Pubs to pitch: I am going to just go ahead and transfer over the same goal list pubs to pitch to in the coming year: New Yorker Shouts, New York Times, and New York Magazine. I dropped The Atlantic because I didn’t manage to pitch them in 2017 and think I just don’t have time for the longer reported pieces right now. It’s easier for me to fit in the short pieces around my day job and family commitments currently, but The Atlantic is still a long-term goal pub.
  • Finish my proposal: I have been working on a book proposal and I want to finish it and start querying agents. I am hopeful that I can finish it earlyish in the year. We will see.
  • Visuals: I still want to do more visual work — possibly even try my hand at comics. I have looked into a couple classes and also bought an iPad in a Black Friday sale — so nothing can stop me now!

Additional Writing Notes on 2017:

  • Over the summer I started trying out the Pitch app, and have had fun pitching jokes on it. It feels like a good way to write a little bit each day and also to hone my humor writing skills. I’m also impressed with what other writers can do with topics. I’ve had 6 editor picks which turned into pieces like this.
  • I contributed to the live blog the Wash Post did for the total solar eclipse over the summer, which was fun, in a terrifying sort of way. I’m glad I got to be a part of it, but think I am too anxious for a lot of field reporting (something I learned in college when I had to report on the local swing dance scene for my internship).
  • I saw a total of 30 pieces actually published in 2017. Some were essays and travel pieces, and many were humor pieces. I still really love writing humor despite it not being the most lucrative writing endeavor, but it is semi-therapeutic and easier to do in short pockets of time, so I’m sure I will keep at it in 2018.