My 2019 Year in Writing (And Also Sometimes Not Writing)

A report on submissions, rejections, and some Medium stats for the year

Photo by Maciej Ostrowski on Unsplash

For the past few years, I’ve been doing a year-end writing round-up/goal setting post, and it’s time for the 2019 edition. You can find the 2018 version here.

So first up — submission totals. I write humor, travel, and an assortment of random other things. Some things (like humor and essays) are typically submitted as full pieces. Other things (articles and travel pieces) are typically pitches. So this reflects a combination of the two. This year’s numbers:

  • Submissions: 93 — Some of these were pitches that contained more than one idea and many were pitching/submitting the same idea to multiple pubs. It looks like there were about 39 different pitches/full pieces, pitched 51 different markets, and I sent out and one piece that was submitted 8 times before it found a home.
  • Rejections: 66 (31 actual rejections, 28 non-responses, and 3 random other things like a pitch expiring in a submission system).
  • Acceptances: 22
  • Pieces still out for consideration: 5
  • Assigned pieces: 3
  • Acceptance rate for the year: 24%. My previous year’s rate was 31%, but that rate is really subjective since it really just depends on the places I’m submitting to.

A few other specifics:

  • Types of pieces written: 14 humor pieces, 6 travel pieces, and the rest were a mix. One type of piece I did more of this year was author interview pieces, and I’ve enjoyed them and hope to continue doing more next year.
  • Top rejecter award: New York Times. I sent 10 pitches/submissions to different sections and was able to maintain my 100% rejection rate with that pub. I got a couple of nice “try us again” rejections, but those are not quite as nice as the NYT finally saying yes to something. Maybe 2020 will be my year.
  • Rejection runner ups: I also received 7 rejections from McSweeney’s and 6 from New Yorker Shouts.
  • Collaboration: I worked on some collaborative pieces for the first time this year, which I really enjoyed. They included this McSweeney’s piece with Ali Solomon and this Shouts piece with Sarah Garfinkel.
  • Other highlights: Breaking into Electric Lit with this piece, another print humor piece for Real Simple, getting another piece picked up for AFAR, and having 4 pieces run in McSweeney’s (which it looks like was also how many I had run last year, so holding strong with nowhere to go but up or down).

Medium Partner Program:

I also experimented with placing pieces behind the paywall of the Medium partner program a bit this year. I know there are approximately 4.2 million articles about how much people made on Medium, so I thought the world needed one more. Here is some info:

  • I wrote 8 total stories for the partner program this year.
  • My highest earning story so far is this one — it’s made $98.45 and seems to keep chugging along. It is also my highest viewed piece on Medium thus far (with 11.9K views). A lot of that traffic seems to be coming from Google searches and probably not translating to earning a lot of money, but it’s still more than I would have made on it if I had published it in a lot of other markets.
  • The other paywalled stories I did are in the $2 to $27 range, with the majority being in the single digits. So Medium is not the path to riches for me, but with so many markets (especially satire markets) paying zero dollars it seems like it’s not a bad option at times.

How I Did on 2019 Goals:

I did decently with my goals last year:

  • I wanted to get 75 submissions/pitches out and I ended up getting 93 out.
  • I pitched all the goal pubs I had on my list except New York Magazine.
  • I wanted to collaborate with others and ended up doing three co-written pieces in 2019 and have some other possibilities in the works for 2020.

2020 Goals:

  • Get 50 submissions/pitches out. This is less than my goal was for this year, but I want to try to focus on some book projects and so I’m okay slowing down on the pitching a bit.
  • Goal pub: NYT. I can’t control the accepting but will at least try submitting there some.
  • I’ve been working on some picture book drafts and am hoping to get the two I have in progress pretty well revised and then think of another one or two to potentially work on in 2020. My plan is to do StoryStorm this January to hopefully brainstorm new ideas.

So, looks like it’s time to get started.

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