As a blogger, there are a few posts that are sort of mandatory, and when it gets to the end of the year, we're kind of expected to write about the old and the new, whether our readers are really interested or not. I don't really do this because I know I'm not interested in reading them from other people, but I have found that it can be helpful for me, personally, to put the year into perspective.
Sometimes you're overshadowed by negatives, things you failed to achieve, and it's easy to forget the things you did, especially if those achievements were unexpected or not part of 'the plan'. That's partly why my new years resolutions, when I make them, don't have a solid end result - but I'll go into that more in the second obligatory new year post tomorrow.
So what were my expectations this year? Well, I wanted to get published traditionally, with a literary agent, with publicity and professional advice and assistance in the areas I fail in, like advertising. Well, I finished and proofed The Archguardians of Laceria very early in the year and then sent it out to all fantasy literary agents in the UK, only to be rejected by all 8 of them. This would have been a huge blow to my confidence, but I've read enough literary agent blogs and books to know that there are countless reasons a manuscript will be rejected, and not being good enough is only one. Timing - the current market for the genre, the agent's own workload and so on - and whether an agent feels they can appropriately represent your work themselves are all more likely reasons. And I also know that literary agents don't leave compliments or advice unless they believe the work is worth something, and a handful of them - everyone who didn't send me a form rejection - paid me either compliment or advice, and every one of them told me not to give up. This spurred me on immensely, and instead of letting the book go to waste, like I have with others, I decided to self-publish it instead. After all, I felt it was good enough to bother a literary agent with, didn't I?
So, no, things didn't go according to plan, but I did finally achieve some form of the dream I've had since I was 12 years old. The Archguardians of Laceria is only available as an ebook - Kindle through Amazon, and ePub for Kobo, Nook and so on through Lulu - and while that's not the format I would prefer (I read physical books), at least my work is out there. I did get myself a physical hardback copy printed, but it cost £25 and to actually sell it I'd have to charge £30 per copy and from that I'd make - no joke - 10p. The text is also tiny, so I can't justify asking people to pay £30 for a book they can't read.
However, despite all that, the release of my book as an ebook means that this year has seen my most important success to date, and while it didn't go as I'd hoped, the end result is good enough. I have a presence in the fantasy writing world, even if it's a tiny one.
I'm presently working on another story - new characters, a different world, completely different mechanics and an entirely new plot - and the first half is already almost finished. It's a long story, so I decided before I begun that it would be split into two books and would be available as both ePub, Kindle and paperback, and will be self-published if I'm rejected again.
So completing this story is the next step towards my dream, which I will use to assault fantasy literary agents again before inevitably self-publishing. Having done it once, I'm no longer intimidated, and while I do feel that that method devalues the work, I also have to realise that letting it sit forgotten on a memory stick in a dusty old box just because 8 people said 'no' is the ultimate disrespect to my ideas, my characters, my time and myself.
As for 2016's resolution, I didn't really make one. I made one in 2015 to try a new workout every month in order to keep my weightloss journey fresh and to avoid plateaus, and it worked so well that it became habit by the end of the year and I continued it throughout 2016, too. I will do so again through 2017, alongside an actual resolution, but it's proven to be a big part of my life and has helped me to lose weight, keep it off, build confidence, strength, improve my health and in fact teach me about human biology which, believe it or not, has also helped me in my writing.
I'm happy with how 2016 has gone. I have no regrets whatsoever, and I'm happy to welcome 2017 and whatever comes with it.