Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Making the Most of Indie and Hybrid Publishing!

I am not an expert.

This is from my famous Thelma and Louise trip to Manhattan with Tina... Isn't she cute?
I talk like I am, but I'm not. If you want experts, go see Marie Force or Hugh Howie or JA Konrath (and you will find adult language on some of those sites because you have a gathering of multi-genre authors.)

I'm not going to discuss the pluses and minuses of every little thing, not because I don't have opinions but because I'm usually wrong. I've had egg on my face regularly, so I'm avoiding the need for yet another facial. BUT... I'm a hybrid author, I'm making enough money to live comfortably, and that's what I'm talkin' 'bout, my friends!

Maintaining priorities... 4 generations of Blodgetts: Dad and Mom, Dave, Bethany and baby Elijah. Elijah's now four and Grandpa's gone home to heaven after a long, drawn-out battle with Alzheimer's, making this moment so precious.
A lot of you know me. You know I don't care about the frou and fluff of writing, I don't seek rewards and awards, although I take my business very seriously, even when I'm tongue-in-cheek. In short, I love writing and I work at it daily to make money.



I made just shy of $9,000 on my indie books in 2013. They were out for 4 and 5 months respectively. So for a less than $800 investment, I cleared about eight grand apart from my contracted novels. That's about 2K/month.

I more than doubled that in 2014. When the smoke clears this month, I'll have made approximately 20K on my indie work alone in 2014. Down below I'll show you how one body of work affects the other.

No one likes to talk actual figures in this business, but it is a business and if you don't talk actualities, people get a pie-in-the-sky image of what goes on.

In Seekerville, we like to straight-shoot the facts for you because the more you know, the better equipped you are to handle it.

We've all heard about major success stories.

Do you have to be major to be successful?

Of course not. Most of us aren't going to write The Hunger Games or Twilight, and if we did the craze would be over by the time we're done and people would be hunting for the next Louisa May Alcott and there you are with five unwanted dystopian novels.


Write what you know and what you love but here's the caveat: Do It Well.

I was blessed to be part of two anthologies that held the top two spots for historical anthologies... Lovely reviews for the most part, LOL! There is no fooling the public. Readers are smart and have so many choices. Give them your best so they reach for more of your work!  I keep records of my indie sales and screen shots like this to promote myself to new publishers. 
On her "Future of the Ink" blog, Penny Sansevieri offered predictions for 2015... She says this:
"THE RAISED BAR":  "It’s here, that raised bar we all keep talking about. With all of the hundreds of thousands of books published, many more of those (more than ever) will go unnoticed. Right now the average sale for a self-published book is 100 copies. I believe that number will drop to 10 or less."

In the old days (like five years ago, oh my stars, the speed of this industry revolution is hysterical, isn't it???) if you sent your work into a publisher/editor and it wasn't ready you were embarrassed to realize it later. Well, that's changed, hasn't it?????

Now people publish really awful, sophomoric things and they wait to be patted on the head by a hungering readership clamoring for cheap books. News Flash: That's unlikely to happen. The reading audience is wide-spread and critical and they know how to use the review button. Handle with care!!

Your first and foremost job is to write a great story. Funny, serious, emotional, romantic, diverse, divisive, intuitive, dystopian, thrilling, horrific, comical, etc... WRITE A GREAT STORY.

Do not trust your own opinion on this. Really. I mean that. I'm not being intentionally mean, but learning to write books that people love, embrace, keep and re-read isn't a given. It's a learned skill like Pele with a soccer ball, Jeter at shortstop and Manning in Denver.

It doesn't happen overnight, or when you're scribbling 10K of stream of consciousness stuff  in one day or on the first manuscript (or for most of us the second or the third or fourth... of course I am a SLOW LEARNER!!!)

Polish. Edit. Submit. Repeat. Repeat again and again and when editors tell you what's wrong with your story, don't crumple their rejection/revision letters.

A beautiful love story, filled with redemption and forgiveness... I've sold 1000's of copies for .99 because it's such a beautiful story of healing... this way it's affordable for anyone. I polished this book by using advice I'd received from editors who rejected it. It is my highest selling indie book and has over 200 unsolicited reviews. Those are my favorite kind of reviews... 
If an editor gives you advice, get to work and fix it even if you're so sure they're wrong, that they know nothing and you are the NEXT BIG THING!!!

Take that advice, treat it like a free college course and do it.

Read. Read voraciously. Study. Emulate. Copy. Mince words. Dice. Slice. Re-write again and again.

There are no gimmes.

And then, when you're ready, scan the publishing horizon. I'm a farm girl, so if you're wondering what a "hybrid" author is, I liken it to a really good tomato. You take the looks of a Mountain Pride, mix it with the taste of a Beefsteak and you come out with a tomato that looks great, tastes amazing and resists blight.

Our roadside stand in August... Tomatoes, corn and squash. :)
Hybrid authors are like that. They're dipping their toes into traditional royalty-and-advance-paying publishing and producing independent work on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple, etc.

It's a juggling act. The interesting part of this act is to keep everyone happy.

This is your fork in the road, your "yield" sign.

1. I was traditionally published first. This is not always the case, lately there are authors who are independently published FIRST and their sales generate traditional publishing interest in them. My buddy Mary Virginia Carmichael is one of those.

2. I am not counting small presses in the traditionally published arena, not because I'm mean (we've already ascertained that, I am mean, but well-meaning, don't ask me to explain further, okay? I can't.) but because if no one is paying you up front to publish you're book, it isn't a "traditional" publishing contract the way I'm defining it here.

3. I am a category romance author for Love Inspired. Before you arch a brow or sniff aloud, let me remind you that in five years I have nearly a million books in print from my various venues, and category romance is a big part of that. I'm delighted to count tens of thousands of readers as my buds!!

4. I have an amazing agent. If you are pretty sure you don't need editors and agents in your life, I respect that.  I do need them. I love that my editors look beyond what I see and point out things I miss... I love that my agent isn't afraid to hunt up deals for me while encouraging my independent work because she understands that everyone likes a paycheck! And she's not afraid to scour the bushes!

5. I think editors now realize that authors need to make a living wage, and we can do this... and chart our own destiny... by doing what we love if we're productive writers. For those of us who love to write and write daily, there is nothing more gratifying than knowing you can support yourself doing the job of your dreams. (Mind you, it has taken me 5 years of being published to be able to reduce... not retire... the day job.) This is partially because of the new ease of indie publishing.

6. Understanding independent publishing isn't difficult because it changes daily. Therefore you really can't understand it completely, so if you produce an amazing story.... and then keep the price reasonable... (a lot of authors are starting to get greedy now, as if they need to make $7 off of every e-book they produce. I am happy that the greed factor missed me entirely) your audience will come.

7. Productivity is important. Write, write, write. Genre stories (romance, sci-fi, thrillers, etc.) seem to sell best. When those fans find an author they love, they buy lots of books.

Proof of that: I published "Try, Try Again" on July 29, 2013. I published "Running on Empty" on September 9, 2013. My backlist e-book sales then were about 200/quarter.

Now my backlist e-sales are over 2000/quarter.

That's a ten-fold increase, primarily from folks who buy an indie book and then go hunting for my other stories.

How wonderful is that????? And that's not just wonderful for me, it's great for my publishers... although I don't think they initially saw the benefit to them, it's clear now.

My indie book sales might not rival the big guns, but they're in the tens of thousands and that's huge to me. It provides me with a monthly paycheck from Amazon and with good scheduling of releases (including our joint effort Hope for the Holidays editions) I've been able to see the return on investment quickly.

Back in the #1 spot for historical anthologies... and at $2.99, 4 great stories, it's a wonderful deal!
My advice to you for 2015 is "discernment". If publishing is on your horizon you need to discern your readiness, not by your standards, but by the reading public.

Discernment is clutch. Make each element of your story sing with humor, pathos, joy and grief, the human emotions that touch our hearts will touch the hearts of readers.

I've talked too much (like always!) but I want you to go into 2015 with as clear a picture as we can paint of the many changing facets of publishing...

I've got e-books to give away today to celebrate indie publishing! 5 people will get their choice of any Ruthy or Seeker e-book. A perfect time to have me pay for a book you've been wanting! Tell me in the comments what book you'd like to have, I'll throw your name in a spankin' clean cat dish, and

From me to you...

God bless you for being a friend of Seekerville, a lover of God, fiction and romance... We're honored to be on hand to help you!

Coffee is on!!!!

Ruthy Logan Herne is living her dream, writing sweet books while holed up with small people on her farm in upstate New York. She thinks possums should stay off the porch and leave the cat food alone. The possums, it seems, have other ideas. She loves God, chocolate, family, dogs and America and is constantly amazed by how blessed she is!


  1. Wow. Love this post. Laughed out loud at the road sign. Feels like my life sometimes lol. I am so inspired by this post. 2015 is right around the corner. Time to decide on goals for the new year. Thanks for the post to get me in gear! God bless you for writing. Your books are an inspiration. 2nd chances, dogs, kids, God's love and grace, perfect combinations!

  2. hy·brid
    result of mixing elements: something made up of a mixture of different aspects or components

    So hybrids are mixed up people, right?

    Great post, Ruthie.

    If all goes as planned, hope to become hybrid in January.

    An extra pot of coffee is on reserve.

  3. Ruthy, you always make me smile. I love that you are so sassy. Are you sure you're not from the south? How do you decide which projects to submit for traditional publishing and which ones will go the Indie route?

  4. Helen hybrid away please. Praying the Lord's blessing on your efforts.

    Ruthy Inspiring kick-butt post that is also encouraging. Thanks for pulling no punches. I'd say put my name in the Cat dish, but I think I've gotten all Seeker Indy books either on your freebie promo days or gifted. Oh wait. My birth mom has a kindle now. Put my name in so I can gift her something. Although I already started her off with both Seeker collections. Can I come back later (when I'm actually awake) to give you a title?

  5. As a reader, I've generally steered clear of indie publishing, just because of the wide variety of quality ... though it's true, reviews definitely can help make a decision.

    However, I don't mind purchasing from hybrid authors --if it's an author I know of, e.g. Camy Tang, I will often buy their indie ebooks.

    I guess it's different for everyone --my mom has bought indie ebooks and it's the stories (and affordable prices) that I think she likes.

  6. Being asked to pick a favorite desired Seeker ebook?

    That's like asking someone to choose between Belgian, Swiss, and Norwegian chocolate.

    (For those of you who haven't had Norwegian chocolate, it's REALLY good. I heard somewhere that Norwegians are the world's biggest choco-holics. They are also supposedly the largest per capita consumer of English-language books by a non-English language nation)


    I have chosen this year as the year to get my indie #$@% in order.

  7. Sally Shupe, thank you! :)

    Honestly, that road sign says it all, right???? Your kind words will make me smile all day!


    Helen, I have a local friend named Becky and you guys are a lot alike. Becky knew the company she's worked for has downsized regularly. Eight years ago she got an extra job working for Wegmans in their bakery...

    Christmas week she got a notice that her job was done, the company was closing that division.

    It was a kick in the teeth, because there aren't a lot of places hiring 55 year old women, right?

    But like you, she looks forward, taking things into her own hands. I believe firmly in God's power, but he also gave us two hands/feet and a working brain. If we see trouble coming, it's okay to prepare!!!! It's just plain smart to take some control. You're doing this and I'm publicly saying how proud I am of you.

    You're rockin' it, sister.

  8. LeAnne, that's a great question!

    For Love Inspired it's easy. Category romance has strict rules of engagement, so if a story doesn't fit those guidelines, I know it needs a different home...

    But this fall I was all set to self-publish a beautiful story and GUESS WHAT HAPPENED?

    A publisher popped up out of the woodwork, grabbed it and I had a big decision to make.

    Indie or traditional?

    Honestly, I might have made more money going indie but the new publisher will give me a chance to touch new audiences, people who might have never picked up a Love Inspired book or people who don't troll the Internet...

    I prayed about it and decided to use the publisher because I love taking chances. Sure things are over-rated, LOL! :) Building readership is a huge part of being an author, so that's what tipped my decision. AND... this publisher was SO STINKIN' EXCITED about the book, and that's what I was looking for. The story made it onto a lot of desks last spring/summer, but when this publisher saw it... they loved it. Like I did. And that meant a lot to me.

    There are indie/hybrid authors that would call that decision stupid, but you know me, I like stretching rules.

    I also publish everything under my writing name. Then the body of work is larger and supports itself. While my indie stories are a little funnier and grittier, they're still great stories of people trying to find their way. Using one name increases the selling power. No one has to track me down!!!! (Generally, they see me coming and CROSS THE STREET, LeAnne!!!!) :)

  9. Deb H, thank you!!! And I'm putting your name in anyway, it's not just indie books, it's any e-book... so any book that's out in electronic form!

    I'm feeling magnanimous today, and who knows how long that will last??? ;)

  10. Jen, my eclectic friend, yes!!!

    I never seek or harvest or beg for reviews. In my experience, if someone loves or hates your work enough to do it on their own, my chances are better of getting a solid, honest review. Not all authors share that view, but it's worked well for me.

    I think a lot of readers are taking your point of view, Jen. Too many poorly written free or .99 books have shied them away from bargain shopping new authors.

    But that's right now, and honestly, that could swing back in six months! Changing climate??? YUP! Right here in publishing!

  11. WALT!!!!!

    First, great idea! Second, grab the word, discernment....

    Make sure the work sings, grabs and makes folks smile or cry or furrow their brow.

    But yes, with the traditional publishing spots thinning and opportunities opening, if you can skillfully craft an amazing story, doors and windows are open!

  12. Nothing like waking up and not having coffee and seeing your ugly mug in Seekerville.

    Look at Olivia, folks. she is my hero. Ruthy too. This post not withstanding.

  13. Ruthy, you talked money! Our grandmothers might be appalled but that is one of the best ways to let folks know the reality of the business AND also make sure writers are treated well.

    You may not be one of the big guns but you are definitely a person who knows she is doing what God has given her to do. And the best part is you are not a diva, not worried about how others are doing on the charts, and work your tiny behind off!

    God's blessings to you in 2015. Though, can you please keep the baby pictures coming even if you have to borrow them?

    Peace, Julie

  14. I write for money and am not ashamed of it.

  15. I haven't read the whole post (or any comments) since it's 4AM and I MUST get some sleep before kids wake up but...

    "Read. Read voraciously. Study. Emulate. Copy. Mince words. Dice. Slice. Re-write again and again."

    I love that. Every bit of it. I was just reading a blog post about making your writing like a cake. Wherever you stick the toothpick, the cake should be done and the toothpick has to come out clean. With writing, EVERY single page must be tight, polished, filled with tension and forward movement. When the reader picks up the book and opens it to a random page, they're sticking in the toothpick.
    The blog writer said, "Nobody takes a bite of raw cake and says, 'no problem, I LOVE salmonella' and keeps eating. Just so your reader won't scan a half-baked scene and think, 'cool, I have no idea what the writer is doing but I'll just keep reading'. LOL

    Anyway, we're so blessed to be living in a time when we can make a living wage from our hard work. (And it IS hard work. No two ways about it.) I still look around me, every single day, and just can't believe how much things have changed since I put up my first indie book in Jan 2013.

    Wonderful post and praying 2015 is a time for all kinds of success, peace, and contentment for Seekers and Seekervillagers!

  16. Tina, LOL!!!! THAT IS A GORGEOUS PICTURE, you dork.

    I followed the rules to the letter!!!!


    And I need more coffee.

    Children are noisy.

  17. Great post, Ruthy! You've given us a lot to consider.


  18. Ruthy said- "AND... this publisher was SO STINKIN' EXCITED about the book, and that's what I was looking for. The story made it onto a lot of desks last spring/summer, but when this publisher saw it... they loved it. Like I did. And that meant a lot to me."

    And again, YES!

    That has made the decision between signing and not signing a contract for me. Do they love it? Enough to work as hard as I do? Are they behind it 100% and not just filling a slot? An enthusiastic editor was one of the best things I've ever experienced. Sure, I probably lost money going traditional with one series, but just enjoying that partnership was worth it.

  19. Julie Hilton Steele, thank you!!!

    There are people who would tell me not to do that, but honestly, the days of secrecy (and publishers not wanting other authors to know what one author is getting paid, etc.) should be over IF THE AUTHOR WANTS TO BE OPEN...

    I'm okay with privacy, but when you're teaching, how do you teach/advise with no facts, right?

    And while 20K is a tiny blip on some radars, it's significant money to us! And it's doing what I love, love, love...

    And it spiked interest from other publishers and increased my other royalties, so everyone wins!

  20. GREAT post, Ruthy with so much information I'm going to have to read it again.

    This year I'll be stepping into the world of various publishing so I'm craving information to learn to be more discerning in my choices.

    Thank you!!!

  21. Ruthy! Thank you for sharing this post with us all today. Yes, talking about money in any business is usually considered a taboo. But sharing with those who hope to publish one day let's us see into that area of the business.

    I usually pick up ebooks of authors that I have read before or names that I have seen here at Seekerville and I haven't been disappointed. So keep the Indie books coming.

    I have all your Indie ebooks so I would probably have to chose a book from someone else but I'm not sure what to chose. Can I wait to see if my name is chosen out of the cat dish to pick a title?

    May you all have a blessed day today! I'm looking forward to tomorrow's party!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  22. Thank you, Ruthy, for your candid way of speaking. I like that. And thank you for sharing your success story. I'm proud of you, and happy you've been able to 'reduce' the day job. :-)

    Here's wishing you onward and upward in 2015!

  23. Wait -- do we get to hear more about the stinkin' exciting book that now has a publisher? Like who the publisher is and when the book will come out and what's it about?

    I'm afraid I'm another person who is wary of indie books and for this very reason: "Now people publish really awful, sophomoric things and they wait to be patted on the head by a hungering readership clamoring for cheap books."

    Of course, Seekerville has helped me get over that because I trust you guys as authors who will deliver a stunning, heart-stopping read every time whether it's in traditional or indie format. And I've branched out a bit from there. But honestly, if I don't know the author from the traditional publishing world, I won't likely give their indie book a try. Does that make me a book snob?

  24. Just finished "Her Holiday Family." WHY DID YOU KILL OFF CHARLIE? I liked him.

  25. Good morning Ruthy! I appreciate you including the money info because that does make it more real. Perhaps 2015 will be the year I see if I can actually write a book not just read them. But quite honestly I think my dream job would be to proofread, I just don't know how to find that job. Mistakes in books drive me crazy!

    Very glad that all of your books are under one name though I didn't realize it was a pen name. I appreciate when authors change their names based on the type of book they write (clean/suggestive/sexual content) but sometimes it does make them harder to find.

    You can put my name in the cat dish but my cat allergy may make it fall out from my sneezing. ACHOO! I was blessed recently to win several of your books (though I didn't get a response to my email yet) so I'm ok with not winning this time. ACHOO! Time to find some Kleenex. darn cats! ACHOO!

  26. MaryVirgGinny, I love breaking taboos. This is why we like each other so much. Or it's the crazy of a house full of loud, noisy, adorable kids.

    I love the unbaked cake analogy. And I know not every reader is going to love every book... and it's interesting that sometimes what they object to is editor-inserted stuff and sometimes it's my stuff. It simply shows me there's no one right way to please everyone!

    I love how you trail-blazed the way for me! Go you!!!!

  27. Virginia and Kav, yes! That excitement is huge!!!! Not for the complimentary aspects, but for exactly what Virginia said, you feel like they're behind the story, 100% and psyched to promote it!

    Kav, I can't say anything until it's announced, but that should be soon!!! I'll keep you posted because I'd love to see what you think of this story. I think it's absolutely beautiful, a modern-day Cinderella story... And totally unexpected to have someone grab it and schedule it for 2015!!!

    I'm delighted. And putting the credit straight in God's hands.

  28. Jackie, perfect! I've always taught my kids to analyze all options... and take chances!

    Remember the story of Tina daring me to write an opening way back before we were published? Sigh. I can't resist a challenge... :)

  29. Pepper, Happy New Year!

    I'm glad you came over! It's so important to arm ourselves with every bit of information we can find. My business is my business, and no one's going to look out for the Ruthy-house more than me.

    And of course I don't mean that selfishly, but sensibly!!! We women are great at taking charge with home/hearth... well now add business to the list!

  30. Cindy, you can mull all you want!.

    And you're welcome! Time to lift the taboos, at least the ones we can lift.

    I can't imagine handing a teacher a classroom and then listing what she/he can't address.


  31. RUTHY,
    This is a good post. I'm not "in it" for the money, but I think being paid shows we're worth something. And who doesn't want to dump/scale back on their day job? Thank you for your honesty. $20K IS a lot, it's only $3,000 less than I make in my day job, I thank God my husband has a good job, I could not survive on what I make but two years to retirement, hey, and then I can write all I want.
    Don't enter me in the drawing, I don't have an e-reader. I'll catch you on the next one.
    I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.

  32. I took to heart what you have said as I am working on my first book. I understand the value of taking advice and hope I can persevere through this. I would love to have Running on Empty

  33. Kaybee, catch us for prizes tomorrow! And yes, being paid just makes sense! I was paid as a waitress and a teacher's aide... I love getting paid for a favorite job! But greed isn't part of my make-up and sharing with others is so important here!

    We are blessed!


    And to think my Seekerville experience all started when I picked up a copy of Yuletide Hearts at the second hand store! Yes, I'm one of those readers who once they find an author they like seek out all other books.

    You say you're no expert, but you are to me. You're like a mother duck gathering all her baby chicks under her wings and sharing the facts of (writing)life,lol.

    You and Virginia are the only two people I've ever heard talk numbers and I have such respect for your honesty.

    About that advice: I seem to be hung up on #2-read voraciously and I'm really kinda happy there, although study is included in that, haha.

    I've accomplished my 2014 goal to read a book from each of the 13Seekerville authors. At the start I had only read 4 authors. Now I have a list of authors I've read and enjoyed, including numerous commenters and guests.

    Having read so many Seeker books already, I would have to pick a newer book and Mary's Tried and True would be one I'd like to read, so enter me for that one please.

    Thanks for a wonderful 1st year at Seekerville. What an awesome group of writers, so willing to come along side others and share their experience.

    I hope everyone was a great NEW YEARS!

  35. Good morning. I'm glad I have such awesome friends who happen to be writers! The post explains exactly why I am a follower of authors...and yes, if it's an author I don't know, I'll check the publisher. Seekerville authors are THE BEST!!!

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. Ruthy, Loved your post. I believe that quality is so important in producing your work. As much as I want to have my writings published I want them to be the best they can be .

    I have a question for you and any of the authors. I got an idea this weekend that I should start keeping a record for each day of the events in the news, the weather, any tidbits or funny comments the kids make when I am around them at church, and any thing that happens that might be something I will want to write about in the future such as how I felt while I was choking in the restaurant on Sunday. My dilemma is how to go about it. Is it better to keep it in a file on my computer write it out in a journal. Any suggestions will be appreciated. What I have discovered in my almost 60 years of living is that what I think I will always remember I don't.

    I would love to have an e copy of Mary Connealy's Tried and True.

    I have your Indie books on my computer and one goal for this new year is to read them. Is there a particular order to read them.

  38. RUTHY!!!!!!!!

    Numbers?! Love them! And I love them FOR YOU! SO VERY GLAD you're doing well!!! Plus you signed a three book deal with... uh... TN? Z? I forget [massive weather induced migraine isn't helping the remembery], didn't you? Something about cowboys. [Cowboys? Yes please!]

    Anyway... I was like Jen for a long time - I didn't read indie unless I knew the personal personally or someone who was hybrid, etc. but that's changed for me anyway. I still check reviews etc., but it matters a lot less to me.

    I "went indie" last month. I'm not breaking any land speed records but by the end of this month, I'll have made back about 2/3 of my investment. For six weeks, I'll take it! And that investment is about 9 books worth. I've got three books out, one up for preorder, and two more ASAP. It's not the path I'd planned on taking, but so far, I'm loving it [though not the stress - I bit off more than I could chew - I should have been fine then hubs got sick and a crucial writing weekend disappeared back in October - I knew Nov/Dec would be crazy and would have used that weekend to get way far ahead - instead I've not yet caught up :p].

    It won't happen this year, obviously, not with a day left ;), but I'm hoping to be making enough to quit my day job sooner rather than later. To be fair, my day job doesn't pay a whole lot [but I don't work a whole lot either ;)]. Or to at least not work this summer so I'm not missing swim meets and having to make practice arrangements, etc. Given the way the first two months have gone, I'm cautiously optimistic that I'll at least be able to take the summer off [and Matt take it off from his second job].

    Love you, Ruthy! Miss you, my friend!

  39. Dawn - if you have author friends, especially indie/hybrid ones, you might consider offering proofreader services for free to them and building a portfolio. I have a group of friends who are avid readers, nitpickers, etc. who read for me and point out all the little errors - missed commas, periods and " backwards, etc. I like to think by the time I get it to them, it's already in pretty good shape, but they catch enough. I'd love to afford a professional, but I just can't at this point. Between the three/four of them, I'm pretty confident we've caught most everything. I had one email me telling me she'd just read a trad pub book and she was itching to email the author with the few errors she found ;). In exchange, they get early reads of the books and an actual ecopy once it's published. They love me enough it works for them ;).

    Anyway, once you get enough endorsements/recommendations [however you define that] from people you've worked with, hang out your virtual shingle and go from there :)

    Good luck!

  40. Remember the story of Tina daring me to write an opening way back before we were published? Sigh. I can't resist a challenge... :)

    I don't remember that story. Would you share, please? I would love to hear what was said. What was your first book? What book of yours is your most favorite and why?

  41. A very helpful post Ruthy! I also appreciate your candor in showing what it takes to build up when someone chooses to indie publish--Kudos to you. And I love reading your comments--there is such wisdom there as well.

    You are a role model to us all in writing and business. Thank you!

    And you made me spew coffee on my computer Tina! You are gorgeous!

  42. We're honored to be on hand to help you! (quoting Ruthy)....
    well, I am very honored to know you, and all Seeker authors and friends! 2014 was a great year at Seekers and am looking forward to 2015!
    I want my name in the cat dish for E copy of Julie Lessman's
    Surprised by Love!!!
    Thanks, Ruthy....you're the best!
    And I've read and loved all your books.

  43. Hey, Ruthy!! Great post! I so admire all you ladies and gents who are jumping into the indie waters!

    I may do that one day as well, so am taking notes. I have a question for you that applies to all kinds of publishing....

    WHAT do you do as a platform to advertise your work & get your name out there (other than the Seekerville blog)? I am finding it's hard to get noticed amid all the Facebook, Twitter chatter, etc.

    All suggestions/replies welcome!

    Thanks, Ruthy!



  44. KayBee, I didn't kill Charlie!!!

    Cancer did.

    And while that's a spoiler alert statement, you can tell in the opening pages of the book that Charlie's prognosis is grim... :( You know, life and death are both part of the dance. But I miss Charlie, too!

  45. Okay, Ruthy, you are officially one of my favorite superstars. Thanks for the wealth of info you've posted here. Now I've got to get back to my word count...because you said so. ;)

  46. Angel Moore, I love you too!!!

    Laughing at the Superstar status, LOL! I'm so happy to share and help youse!

    Cause that's how it oughta be, always.

  47. Susan, I think the only answer to that is longevity and persistence.

    I've watched people claim to have the answers, and I don't think they exist except for producing a lot of work, a strong body, season by season...

    And being a presence wherever you go. Facebook, twitter, etc. People know if you're just fishing for sales, so I'm just me.

    Except a better version of me than my family sees, LOL! :)

  48. Jackie Smith, you're in, sweet thing! I love Julie's work!!!! And you know I mean what I say.

    I consider that a boon and bane, LOL! I say too much...

    But I'm utterly sincere! :)

  49. Mary Lawson, I am so proud of you!!!!

    That is such good news to me and to all of us!

    If one person feels empowered by Seekerville each day, at the end of a year that's 365 motivated people, folks with a goal. That rocks.

    On another writing site, the blogger mentioned this week that he doesn't do "writing" blogs anymore because it doesn't help his readers and doesn't sell books...


    Why not just help people without wanting to get something in return? That's one of the basic rules of kindergarten!

  50. Oh I'm so glad I stopped by (on lunch break and had to come back to reread it :-)

    There's so much to learn, it's important to not only go to the 'right' people to learn it, but to be willing to learn.

    I have one book coming out in traditional publishing next year (Gen Market). 1 in small publishing, and am coauthoring a book that has been picked up by traditional publishing.

    I want to dip into the indie realm, but right now I need to make it through this first year as a published author and learn how to manage the time that I have while keeping the day job.

    So excited for you, Ruthy - and so thankful for your authenticity and directness in this post. Putting numbers on it gives a clearer picture of the possibilities

  51. And to add to what Virginia said, it's been amazing to have an editor as excited about your book as you are!
    What a fun experience!
    The 3 book contract I signed for my historical romance series - that editor pursued me after reading the first book. I'm looking forward to working with her!

  52. Ruthy, thanks for sharing! I'm always inspired by your publishing experience!

    LOL, Walt!

  53. Marianne, I'm so glad you're here! It's awesome to see the reader's perspective on things. We see it from ourselves as readers, but it's always good to see/hear from people who aren't jaded by the writer angle! Thank you!!!

  54. Thanks Ruthy for sharing all your info. I remember when we first started Seekerville, we did so because we were so frustrated because no one would share and tell us the financial facts. It is refreshing to hear your honesty. Of course we know it is different for everyone, but it always helps to hear of an authors experiences so you can know what to strive for and have realistic goals.

    Great going.

    Can hardly wait for tomorrow's bash. smile

  55. Thanks, Missy. It's a little daunting at present, but I'm extremely thankful for the opportunity

  56. Tina...
    I think you're very pretty.

    and scary organized efficient to go along with uber talented.

    just sayin'...

    HUGE thanks and kudos out to all the Seeker ladies. Besides my relationship with Jesus, hubby, and child - you all are who I am most grateful for this year. I'm glad the Lord brought y'all into my life. It is definitely more blessed because of it. (starting end of year mushy stuff early... sorry - one day deprived of internet Seeker fix will do that)

  57. Great perspective and advice! Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights. As a reader I love learning more about the publishing side of books :)

    Please put my name in the dish for "Love Finds You in the City at Christmas" Thank you and happy New Year!!!

  58. Ruthy, just an excellent post on hybrid publishing! You've proven its a great way to increase your numbers and build readership. But as you pointed out more than once, indie published books have to be good to bring readers back. To make them read every book you wrote. You are savvy and a great writer! Happy for our success! And wish I could buy some of those hybrid tomatoes!


  59. Hey there, Ruthy!

    I saw your post early this morning, but vowed I would get my words in before I came to play. Then a crown fell out - again. SO calls to the dentist ensued, but the new words are done, so here I am to thank you for your candor, your encouragement, your humor, etc. I'd go on, but one of the other Seekers might smack me for giving you a big head.

    I'm so happy for your success, but it's easy to be happy for you because you work so hard and are so darn giving to others.

    We love you, Ruthy, oh yes we do, We love you, Ruthy and so on. ;)

    And now back to an afternoon of play with another story that I JUST LOVE!

  60. That's right, Mary Curry. We dole out the Ruthy compliments in medicinal doses. Our concern is world domination. Then what would the rest of us bossies do??

  61. Isn't the other keyword in this biz..flexible?

  62. Love how you share, Ruthy!

    I'm listening to all you say...and write. Plus, I get enthused by your enthusiasm.

    Thanks for putting it all "out there." You've provided lots of food for thought, which is especially important at this time of year as we launch into 2015.

    We all need to take note and take notes!

    And I am!

    Happy Pre-New Year's Eve hugs to all!

  63. Aw Ruthy, what a pep talk.

    I am going to get to work.

    All this 1000 words a day nonsense I've been spouting is for SLACKERS!

  64. Love that you shared numbers.

    I am always amazed at how secretive the publishing world is.

  65. Mary Curry, go ahead and compliment our energizer bunny Seeker.

    I promise you the rest of us are keeping her humble through sheer effort!

  66. "Plus, I get enthused by your enthusiasm."

    Isn't that the truth, Debby! I feel energized just be reading, but then I'm exhausted by the time I finish. ;)

    And now Mary C is shaming me into more than 1K just when I was feeling good about what I'd accomplished already today. (Not really, but it's a minimum anyway.)

  67. Ruthy, I love your straightforwardness! This is the kind of information that sinks in to my noggin. And just the motivation I needed today for BIC.

    I think I am pretty up to date on all of the Seeker's books except Mary's Tried & True. So put me in the cat dish, please.

  68. Thank you so much!!! I would faint with happiness if I made that much with my indies. This year my goal is to write more and promo more.

    You are awesome and I appreciate this post!

  69. I left here and clicked on FB, and the first thing I saw was the beautiful new addition to your family. Morgan Delaney, what a wonderful name. Congratulations!

  70. Ruthy, love your post, as usual! A fun way to finish up the year! If my name is chosen from the cat dish - LOVE IT!!!! - I will need some choices!!! I don't know exactly what is available!!! Thanks!

  71. Interesting post. I am glad you are making some money from the hybrid publishing.
    As a reader I will read books by hybrid and indie authors I know. As one of the other readers said I tend to avoid some if I don't know the author or its not recommended by someone I trust. Read enough self published books (although most were vanity press) that left a lot to be desired in the editing side of things.

  72. Hi Ruthy,

    Great post. I always looked on indy publishing as being for impatient writers. Then my cp went indy and I started looking. I especially like the amazon model. They really try to keep people from gaming the system with bought reviews. It's opened a whole new world to me. With the Look Inside feature, I get to be the agent and editor and decide what's good or not before I buy. I choose my books by subject now, not author, and found a lot of good cheap reads.

    I'd like your historical, a Town Called Christmas, I think it is.

  73. I'm with Susan Mason. What things do we need to do to advertise and get your name out there after indie publishing a book?

  74. You have obviously worked so hard and were brave by venturing into the world of hybrids. You deserve all of these wonderful things happening to you.
    How grateful we are that you shared this with us today, Ruthy. You are indeed a shining light in my world and many others.

  75. DebH, you're so sweet. And we feel the same way!

  76. LOL, Mary Connealy! Yeah, we keep Ruthy humble in the background. :)

  77. Jessica, I'm with you. I want to be more productive. To write faster.

  78. LeAnne, I just saw your comment saying Ruthy sounds like she could be from the south. :) I agree! Until I talk to her in person. Then oh my goodness!! She's definitely a New Yorker. LOL!

  79. Oh, wow... You've had amazing success, Ruthy, but I also know that you work very hard at what you love to do! I was nearly in tears reading this post.

    I want to be you--in all ways--when I grow up. (Snickering at myself because I will be 56 in March!) I've wanted to be published since I was in 7th grade and discovered a love of writing. And I am going to push hard in 2015...and help out my sister at the same time (she has been writing for years, too, but I told her after Jan. 1st I would read her stuff and help where possible). It's time for me to put to work what God put in my heart so many years ago...

    Thank you, Ruthy! :)

    And I have no idea what e-book to ask for! Are they all for Kindle or are there Nook books available, too? (Note to self: Get a Kindle, get a Kindle, GET A KINDLE!!!)

    Blessings and Happy New Year!

  80. Well that pretty much sums it up, R! Bottom line still remains -- you have to write a GOOD BOOK. And that you do very well, my friend : )

    With all the slicing and dicing you encourage, you sound like an ad for Ronco Veg-A-Matic, LOL!

    Would that be Word-A-Matic??

    Love the advice!

    BTW, I love getting paid for writing stories...

  81. Ruthy, you are simply amazing!

    Late to Seekeville this week--just got home from a fun trip to tour the Biltmore estate in Asheville, NC. Wow, it's almost as amazing as Ruthy!!! Girl, if you keep selling books like you have been, one of these days the world will be touring YOUR castle!!!!

  82. Hi Ruthy!
    Wonderful post. I love your honesty and your enthusiasm. I too have dipped my toe in the hybrid waters and it ain't easy as you well know. Kudos to all your success and all the wonderful things that will come to you in 2015.

  83. Ach! I tried to post from Buffalo but no wifi in the little diner we had lunch in... and then no signal in the First Niagara Center!

    I treated Beth and Mandy (my two helping elf/worker bees) to a Trans Siberian Orchestra concert and lunch but had no clue that there'd be no Internet in the center!

    But I'm back and ready to tuck two cute grandkids into bed... God sent them a baby sister this morning about 8:30, so there's another Blodgett/Logan/Herne on the planet!

  84. Sally Shupe... the story...

    I couldn't afford to go to the national conference and an RWA chapter was running a contest on best beginnings... Tina dared me to write a winning opening...

    The first one was BORING.... So I scrapped it, thought "what can I do to get the judge's notice???" and came up with a five page opening with a hungover Manhattan detective and a fairy artist.


    I thought, oh, if the editors like it, they'll request a proposal.


    They requested the whole manuscript! FAST WRITING, LOL!

    One of these days that story will hit the indie market, maybe in 2015 because it's a fun, snarky story of a jaded cop and a woman who got tossed over and learned a valuable lesson...

    So I didn't win overall and get the conference fee, but it showed me that I'd learned what readers were looking for... and then learned to deliver it!

  85. Pepper, I love that excitement! It's contagious!

  86. Piper, right back at you. I feel strongly about your writing and your stories and if traditional publishing wasn't ready to commit, boy, readers will! I believe that wholeheartedly, and you know I don't say things lightly.

    Mary's the NICE Seeker. Well, and Missy.

    I worry about them.

  87. Pepper, I look at the opportunity of your experience as a readership builder.

    The other thing I've learned is to use patience constantly. If you're doing everything right, stuff will happen eventually... the trick is to not give up, get discouraged or shoot yourself in the foot by trying to rush things. I've been guilty of that, and it's a humbling experience.

  88. Dawn, your name is in!!!

    And did you win the books here, sweet thing? Or over on Erica's beautiful blog? With Christmas, I know I got her e-mail with winners, but there's been no time this week to follow up on things. Hopefully this weekend to contact people!

    You know minor mistakes don't bother me. I've seen both sides of the coin, my books are combed by so many people and it's possible to miss minor things... so that's no biggie.

    And I do love that if I see a mistake in an indie book, I can go fix it!!! SUHWEET! The mistakes I wish didn't happen are timeline errors/glitches that often occur when revisions are requested. Then the author has to make changes... but now and again those changes don't line up with something that happened three books previously.


    But again, for the most part, I shrug off little errors because when stuff goes through so many hands, mis-strikes happen!

  89. Wilani, I'm the worst person to ask about storing data.

    I have scraps of stuff all over! And then I put things in a nice computer file and can't find it! I'm ridiculous!

    I'd toss 'em all in a box and then search the box when you want to jog your brain with ideas!

    And no particular order for my indie books. They're unrelated, so just have fun with them and then tell me what you think. I had so much fun writing them!

  90. Carol, hey!

    The second big contract this past summer was a three-book deal with COWBOYS!!!! with Random House/Waterbrook/Multnomah... and I'm having the time of my life writing them! Best time ever!

    But I do have a novella coming out from Zondervan in a few weeks and another with Barbour, same time, so I understand the confusion! And I'm still loving my Love Inspired work, that's brought me to so many stinkin' nice people! I love my readers.

  91. Aw, Deb H.... We love you, too, sweet thing!

    You know it's a competitive business and there are limited slots for authors in traditional publishing, but we formed the Seeker group to pray EACH ONE of us into publication. We knew we were all competing for the same prize, but we believed we could all make the leap.

    I know a lot of authors thought we were crazy. Well, we are. But working together, we've made a difference in a lot of lives, both readers and writers and that's the best news ever!

    Honesty always pays off and in Seekerville it's paid off in true friendships, strong work ethics and self-confidence.


  92. Heidi, I'm glad you liked it and you're in, dear girl!!!!! I love that two-in-one collection!!!!!

  93. Mary Curry and Tina, LOL!!!! So funny!!!

    What's really funny is how amazed we all are about a little honesty, LAUGHING!!!!

    Doesn't that strike us as crazy funny?


    But we do want to avoid the Big Head. It's annoying as heck.

    And there are plenty of bossies to go around. But we all need a little space, for certain!

  94. Deb, this is perfect timing, right???? Just before New Year's!

    And Mary, I appreciate the assurances. I bet folks were wondering if youse guys had enough moxie to keep my humble.

    And of course, YOU GUYS DO!!!

  95. Donna, you're in! And I love straightforward people... I appreciate frankness.

    And despite our generous hearts as humans, we all have bills to pay so money talk is clutch!

  96. Go Ruthy! And thank you for a straightforward, frank look at this aspect of publishing. Has anyone mentioned to you that you have a work ethic of astounding proportions?

    Wishing you the best in the new year!

    Now to settle in to read comments.

    Nancy C

  97. I'm *late* visiting today (still Dec. 30 but almost New Year's Eve!!) but LOVED this post, Ruthy!! No-nonsense, very helpful, and the cute Ruthy-humor woven in - - love it.
    I only wish you could bottle your energy and sell it, LOL.
    The photo of your roadside stand looks like something from a Norman Rockwell painting - - Americana and lovely! :)

    Hugs from a Ruthy-fan, Patti Jo

    p.s. I don't have an e-reader, so no need to toss me in the cat-dish.

  98. Great post, Ruthy. Tell it like it is!

    Hybrid author or not, you hit most important aspect of writing - write a good story. I learned that first here at Seekerville, and almost every writing craft book I've read has said the same thing.

    When you can write a good story and change it as needed, the sky is the limit.

    As you've shown us, Ruthy dear. Keep soaring :)

  99. Hi Ruthy! I wish I'd read all of this earlier, but I didn't and now it's probably too late o make this comment an anybody see it but... I just came back to read the whole rest of the post and see this:

    "I was traditionally published first. This is not always the case, lately there are authors who are independently published FIRST and their sales generate traditional publishing interest in them. My buddy Mary Virginia Carmichael is one of those."

    I was traditionally published by Love Inspired in 2012, and the self published in Jan 2013. I sold a self published series to Howard Books at the end of 2013, but still traditionally published and self published throughout 2014.

    I want to make sure self published authors are VERY carefl when they're approached by publishers about selling the rights to their books. I did my homework before I signed those paper, including working out the math of how much the series was earning and would earned, and negotiating a higher advance than they first offered.

    I don't consider a trade contract the nirvana of publishing, but I did sell that self published series to a traditional publisher because I made sure the contract was the way I wanted it.

    So, yes, self publishing can lead to trade publishing contracts, but I wouldn't go into self publishing with the hope of signing a traditional contract.

    JA Konrath calls that, "smearing yourself with honey and tying yourself to a tree in order to hunt a bear".

  100. Love thse post, Ruthy. Thanks for all the great info and your honesty. I have 4 kids and the oldest just started college. I'm all about bringing in more income. Sure, there are far easier was to make a living, but few that allow me to stay home in my yoga pants. And I love the challenge of writing.

    Lastly, I love your voice in everything you write. It really shines through. Happy New Year!

  101. I am so inspired, Ruthy! You are such a great teacher to those of us who feel called to write and are learning the craft, or business. thank you for your generous heart!

  102. Love what you said about genre stories and filling stories with humor, pathos, joy and grief. Excellent.

    Even with these, how did you make your stories stand out to readers among the millions of books out there? That's the part I need help with.

  103. I'd love to win a free book of yours...but I think I already own them all!!!

  104. Ruth

    Thanks so much for more of the frank, straight forward advice we get here on Seekerville. And a big thank you for talking about the sales - seems nearly taboo. Blessings and Happy New Year!

  105. Gracious, what a helpful post! Thanks so much for sharing your insight and wisdom with us, Ruthy. :)

  106. Finally, someone who tells it straight. Thanks Ruth! It seems like a lot of people in both traditional and indie publishing always step around this. It's refreshing to finally get the 411.

  107. I'm just getting back here!!! Nancy, thank you. I think that's our general consensus here, to help with open information... And bless you for your words about work ethic!

    That means a great deal to me!

  108. Patti Jo, thank you! We'll catch you with a prize a different day, my friend!

    I love that produce stand! Mandy, my niece, built it with her husband Paul and we recycled the planks from my mother-in-laws sidewalk/boardwalk to build it! Instead of burning the old wood, we (well, THEY) put it back to good use!

  109. Aw, Jan.... you got me all emotional.

    Thank you.

    Your words always make me feel like something I'm doing is blessed... and that's how I want it to be.

    Blessed. By God.

    Hugging you from upstate!

  110. Virginia, how did I forget that the LI book came first??? Duh, because that was from a Seekerville contest! My bad!

    In my head I was thinking strictly of your indie work getting picked up....

    And you're right, it's not the norm, but it happens.

    It's not always the right thing to do, either, as you've talked about.

    But it seems those success stories are what catches folks' eyes, and of course, everyone wants to be the next big thing.

    I'm quite happy being a medium thing and paying bills, I've never lusted for money... but I like a Starbucks now and again!

    Your words are well taken and see??? I came back and SAW IT!!!!

    Thanks for clarifying!

  111. Alison Stone, waving to you across I-90!!!!!

    Another thing I've found this first year is that no matter what the so-called experts/trailblazers (or those who claim to be trailblazers) tell you, there is LITTLE PREDICTABILITY in the indie market.

    I don't fool myself that Jeff Bezos is sitting there, wanting to make sure my books get the best possible promo coverage. Amazon is set up to reward authors for what Amazon wants you to do, kind of like teasing a monkey to dance... but like any contract we enter, there will be good and bad, right?

    Jump in, Alison, the water's fine! And if you like roller coaster rides, this is a good one!!!

  112. Dana, thank you! God bless you, I'm so glad we found each other!!!!

  113. Carolyn.... I did nothing extra, nothing special, nothing at all

    First, I did have a readership, a facebook following and a great platform here in Seekerville. So that's an amazing launch, right?

    But what pushed the books was the old word-of-mouth (which is partially done with reviews these days, but also the old-fashioned way!) because when people love an author they talk about it!

    I love that!

    And I do run regular promotions, and I keep Running on Empty at .99 so that everyone in the world can read it... and to show people what I've got, what I'm about.

    The other part is patience. I believed that people would find me if I wrote beautiful stories and put them out there.

    The core is always the simple: Write a great book. (And hey, not everyone loves my stuff!!! But you want to gain a percentage of the reading audience and then feed them beautiful work and reach out for others. Think step by step).

    Unless you're JK Rowling or you just wrote Twilight, etc!

  114. Kelly, it is taboo in some forms! A lot of contracts contain a clause requesting silence about the advances and contract terms.

    I can look at a baseball player and tell you what they're getting per game, what their incentives are, what options they have in years 2, 3, and 4 and what their shoe size is, LOL!

    Publishers didn't want authors comparing. The reason Brenda Hiatt has a "Show Me the Money" page is because the cloak of secrecy continues.... So we can talk in general terms, but not necessarily specific terms. But Brenda's page http://brendahiatt.com/show-me-the-money/ gives us an idea of what's out there. It's silly, right? :) It's fun to let people know that indie publishing is not only lucrative, but open! And I see advantages to me/us by working in both realms because the audience/readership expansion is a huge advantage!

  115. Anna, hey!!!! Glad you liked it, my friend!

  116. Susan, see my answer two up (points an arrow with her fingers... then realizes Susan CAN'T SEE HER!!!!) about Brenda Hiatt's money page and why there's a veil of secrecy... I expect that's changing somewhat, but I know talking about money is uncomfortable for some...

    Shoot, when you've spent most of your life not having any, talking about it is downright fun!!! :)