Wednesday, July 10, 2019

What You've Wanted to Know About Writing but Were Afraid to Ask

Writing As a Business by bossy Seekerville blogger Ruth Logan Herne

Darlings, this isn't to browbeat you. It's not meant to make you feel bad. It's not intended to spur you to greatness, either. You have yourself and the sweet Lord to do that.

This is meant to encourage you (those who really want this gig, and I mean R-E-A-L-L-Y) to step back and look at your work as the small business it needs to be to become successful.

You're like "Right. I'm a writer. Not a business owner. Whatever, Ruthy!"

To which I will respond "Um. Einstein. What are you smokin'? Because the simple fact is that if you hope to get paid for what you do, that makes you a business, engaged in the sale of goods (books) and/or services.

Aye Caramba, darlings, let's get with the reality program here.

I'm giving away two books today... TWO BOOKS.... but here's what I want from you:


Because if you're standing on the wannabe side of the fence, and you're reading uber-articles about how all this goes down, about points-of-view, advertising, media presence, social media platforms, press kits, blogging, not blogging, book-signing... okay, what do you want to know about? What worries you? What bothers you? Where do you feel like you fall short?

This is your day to frankly talk with a writer. Post your questions. Share your concerns, or simply ask us "Hey! What works?"

Because these answers are important, these answers help you to form a business plan. We've got several Seekers on board today to offer advice, and it's good advice. The important thing we want to share is that while writing is balanced with individual choices (style, timing, scheduling) the business side of it is pretty solid, depending on the level you're at.

As a newbie aspiring author, what should you be doing?

Writing. Writing. Writing. Finish projects, rewrite, revise, re-submit. And... to show that marketing does not scare you (darlings, it frightens all of us, we are The Great Pretenders!) begin to establish an online presence to show growth. Now I don't for one minute think that a big social media presence sells books, but it does offer a line of friendship and rapport with readers and writers... and writers are reading. So it's not a bad thing, darling, to jump aboard the train.

You don't have to have your own blog... blogs are hard to keep up independently. But ask to guest-post on other blogs and offer wisdom and tips and ideas and thoughts of what inspired you. Then keep track of where you've been and what you've done!

If you're an indie writer, your first order of business is to write the best possible books you can. If you're afraid to invest the money for an editor, you risk alienating readers by putting out less-than-your-best. Now that's up to you but I know that if I put out my original stuff, I wouldn't be the author I am today. Fortunately that WAS NOT an option because I was pretty sure I was the cat's pajamas, people.


If you're an established author, mid-list or low-list, then your job is to market with confidence, keep up that website and facebook page, change your banners to reflect the seasons or what you're working on and keep writing... but now that you're making money, you also need to keep records of what you've spent, earned, etc. so that you can take care of taxes. And as a self-employed author, your tax rate is approximately 35% of what you bring home/get paid, and that's a wake up call every April so making quarterly payments to the IRS makes that easier. Not less painless, but easier. The reason for the up-tick is the Social Security tax. An employee pays 50% of their Social Security tax to the government. Self-employed people pay both halves of the tax, so that pushes the tax rate up.

If you're Nora Roberts or Stephen King then you need no advice from me, so why are you here????


A lot to think about, but I want to know WHAT WORRIES YOU? What are you afraid to ask?

Ask it today.

Do it.

No one here thinks these questions are foolish. We began this blog to help pull back the "curtain" surrounding publication and with hundreds of books to our credit, we've got a pretty good take on the ins, the outs, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Now it's your turn. Fire out the questions, friends, and I've got two copies of my current Maggie finalist "At Home in Wishing Bridge" for two lucky commenters.

Offer a comment or question to get into the drawing for Thea's story and see for yourself why so many folks email and message Ruthy to find out how they can get to Wishing Bridge... A town where prayers are built on wishes and dreams.

Multi-published, award-winning, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne is busy getting sweaty on her Western New York pumpkin farm this time of year, which makes that cute pic kind of propaganda, but no one needs to see Ruthy a mess, right? Friend her on facebook, check out her website and/or follow her on Twitter where her more conservative views are not always met with LOVE! Silly Twitterverse! Or you can email her at


  1. Good morning, Ruthy. A spam text message at 4am had me awake, so I might as well put the time to use. Firing up the computer. Well, obviously it's already fired up since I'm commenting here. Maybe firing up the brain is a better way of saying it. #needcoffee

    1. Oh my gosh, I would want to blow up the phone of the 4 am spam texter! I hope you got your coffee and made good use of the morning, Mary Cate. :)

    2. I'm still dying over the image of Missy Tippens BLOWING UP ANYONE!!!

  2. Love this post! You inspire me to light a fire under my own small business (Jamison Editing) and put more focus on marketing. Thanks! :)

    1. Beth, we keep on keepin' on and you're so talented... We just keep getting ourselves out there.

  3. Good morning Ruthy, a lot to chew on here. I'll be published in September, so I fall somewhere in the cracks.
    I've got some of it right, thanks to yours and other Seekers' previous posts. I've made a lot of friends online and have five guest blogs booked for September and October. Also four local libraries wanting to host me, and a big book launch party with two other authors. I'm out there, which is not easy for an introvert, so hope I don't "choke" on the in-person ones.
    I pretty much get the tax thing too, I've been a freelance non-fiction writer most of my adult life.
    I followed your advice to keep writing and Mary's to "Be Ready," so my sequel and a related novella are done and accepted.
    What am I afraid of? I'm not a techie, so I don't even know how to SELL an e-book, especially at a library event. That's a big one right there. Looking into Drop Cards and also planning to mine the brains of my adult daughters.
    Tech is scary, and I don't know how I'll handle being "out there." But I was scared of social media when I first started, until I figured out that it's just making friends and talking to them online. But now I have to be out there in person, at least for some things. I'm nervous about saying something stupid, retreating into my shell, or brushing someone off and hurting their feelings.
    But I'm weighing all this against the chance to tell Michael and Caroline's story, and guess what? Telling the story wins.
    Ruth, thanks for another pep talk.
    Kathy Bailey
    Always Your Kaybee
    Making It Work In New Hampshire, of all places

    1. Kathy, you can do this! You're always so personable that I'm sure you'll be great in-person as well!

    2. Kathy, that's how we all learn this business these days. Kind of on a "need to know" and we teach ourselves basis.

      And with so many options for websites, blogsites, etc, we can easily turn a simple BLOGGER or Word Press page into a web page... Or Weebly. They are very user-friendly now!

    3. Oh, Kathy! You mentioned one thing that most authors have trouble with - so many of us are introverts!

      The idea of "putting ourselves out there" is SO intimidating! And yet we constantly have to pull up our big-girl (or big-boy) panties and do it.

      If this business was easy, everyone would be doing it!

    4. Kathy, I would have a lot of the same fears as I'm a rather introverted person. I am sure you will do great, though.

  4. Yes, how DO you sell an e-book? Welcoming advice, especially from indie authors.
    Confused in NH

    1. Kathy, I don't know if you ever saw my comment when you asked about this previously (selling at in-person events). Check out Book Funnel. I believe you can make cards to use a code from there. They're great with delivery for different ebook formats and have great customer service to help people if they have any technical trouble.

    2. Thank you, Missy. Hope the instructions are simple. I.E., "First turn on your computer..."

    3. I have never used Book Funnel or anything else like that.... I just keep writing books. And then selling them OR indie pubbing them. Now that might sound cavalier.

      It's not meant to be.

      Your BEST ADVERTISEMENT OF YOURSELF is your own production of great work.

      So when I self-publish, I don't got ballistic trying to get a spin on things. There's no time for that. But if I'm putting out 4 books/year (indie and traditional) then pretty soon folks will go looking/googling/hunting for us.

      I think the most important thing for any author/newbie is to create that presence online. To "BE SOMEONE".... so that increases your name recognition.

      And I've honestly watched authors quit jobs, quit using traditional publishers and then wonder why their indie books are flat.

      If we're flat, our work tends to be flat.

      So we keep writing.

      Write... write... write.....

      And then talk with folks.

      Now Book Funnel might work, but I have no idea. And ads are pricey.

      If my next book becomes my "advertisement" then I'm actually getting paid for doing what I love. Writing books!

    4. Kathy, I think Ruthy was talking about online selling. I was just talking about investigating using Bookfunnel as a way to sell e-books at your in-person book signing.

    5. Hi Ruth:

      I agree 100% that the best way to build a career is to write books people want to read…next!

      1. write the best book you can that will keep readers turning pages.

      2. write a last chapter that makes the read want to stand up and cheer while trying to order your next book, or better, your other books.

      3. each book you publish should have a list of your other books and links to order them. This is easier to do if you Indy publish as some of your backlist may be from different publishers who will not let you do this.

      4. if you have only one book, you can still provide a link to a webpage that in the future will have your next books listed with selling blurbs and links to selected book sellers. This way your oldest books can still be selling your new books.

      I believe a career is built most successfully by having lots of books in which each book works as a powerful salesmen to sell all your other books.

      If you can write well, then writing more books is your 'highest and best' use.


    6. Missy, they're like bar code scans, right? So that people can use their phones and purchase that way?

      One thing I've done this year is to make sure as I put out new things or re-market my former things is to have a paperback option for everything. It's costing a little more, but my paperback readers are happy!

      I see what you're saying... when B&N does book signings here, they require paperbacks from indie authors. I wonder if book store venues would use Book Funnel... and I can see it being helpful in an off-site situation (like the festivals and libraries, etc.) Clearly this is not my area of expertise!!!!

  5. Morning, Ruthy! :) Does this qualify as a legitimate question?: How does one go about finding a critique partner?

    I suppose I could just rely on my sister (another who wants to be published, plus she edits for our cousin who is a published author). I've had folks offer to beta-read or even proofread, but I'm not ready for any of it yet (I need to fill in gaps, rewrite, edit, format). I just finished my first novel in quite a few years and have set it aside because of a very busy week, in hopes of having fresh eyes when I return to it next week. (And yet I am having a tough time staying away from it!)

    Methinks this will be a post to print out and hang onto with all the comments and advice. Which reminds me...has Seekerville every considered a "print" option that will clean up everything and allow us to print without copying and pasting into Word, etc.?

    Thanks! Have a great day! :) And blessings to all!


    1. Missy, can we do a print option like we have on Yankee Belle? I have no idea.... but Missy knows everything!

      Melanie, I found Sandra through F H & L way back in the day and it had a substantial membership then... I don't know what they've got going on now but that's one place to check. I'm not an RWA or ACFW member so I'm out of the loop on that stuff.

      Local writers' groups???

      Online writers' groups?

      I was a fast producer (Yep. Put on your SHOCKED!!! face!!!!)so I asked the loop for someone who is also fast.... I'm a time sensitive person which means I get whiny if people waste my time....

      So I tried with a couple of people, but it clicked with Sandra Lee Smith because she was working hard, too. And she thought I was funny.

      Not everyone sees the humor in my rants, Melanie!!!! Imagine that! :)


    2. Melanie, it's been ages since I put that feature on the Yankee-Belle Cafe. But since Ruthy believes in me, I can surely do it! :) Seriously, I'll try to figure it out again and see if I can install it on this blog template.

    3. Melanie, finding a critique partner can be a challenge. Are you on FB? If so, put out a call, asking for someone who is willing to swap opening chapters. When you get a handful of takers (Maybe five?) do the critique, and then see which one or two might match up with your needs and current abilities. Message them and see if they would be interested in becoming critique partners, either on a regular or "emergency" basis. (Like "Quick, can you look over my proposal or contest entry before I turn it in?" sort of emergencies.)

    4. Oh, Ruthy, I appreciate the humor in your rants! :D

      I know of no local writers' groups (remember, I'm kind of in the boonies out here in Sodus), plus there is the shyness thing--I canNOT talk in groups, even of people I know well. Eek!

      Thanks, Missy, for the possibility of a print option! Of course, if that comes to pass, I'll be printing out things left and right, haha. (Speaking of which, are the old Seekerville posts archived somewhere? I went looking a week or so ago and couldn't find something...) But I would still appreciate that print button! :)

      Thanks for the advice, Erica! Yep, I'm on FB, and some friends/family members have already offered to read for me. We'll see... ;-)

    5. Melanie, we have the majority of posts archived at Seekerville Archives The First Ten Years Some of the gals took their posts down, but most of it is intact... And still loaded with great and timeless advice!

    6. Melanie, I got the print button added, down with the social media buttons at the bottom of the post. You just have to click on the title of the post to get the button to show up.

  6. Hi Ruth:

    If you are writing a series for Love Inspired and they reject book 3, can you Indy publish that book or does the publishers of the first two books own the rights to the characters you have created?

    1. Vince, great question. They used to own the rights. Not any more, that ended a while back, so I've actually done that in the past (a Kirkwood Lake story that was rejected became "For the Love of Sophie June" in an anthology)....

      But in one case I changed EVERYTHING because the topic wasn't one that they wanted.... and I changed the series (my first one) to fit the line and published "Running on Empty" (one of my top-selling indie books) with name changes... but some readers figured it out and sent me e-mails letting me know even though I never said a word... so that was pretty funny.

      But yes, you can go on and self-publish those other books. I'm doing that this fall with "Finding Peace in Wishing Bridge" because the line closed after book 2 (the Maggie finalist above) and so I'm putting out Jazz's story independently.... And we're doing a cover reveal in August, and I'm over half done with the book and I love it... so I hope readers do, too!

  7. Hi Ruth:

    I know it may not be wise to follow trends in stories as they can change by the time you can get your book ready for publication; however, do you have an opinion on the best theme to write (non fad theme) which is likely to have the highest readership/popularity/sales year in and year out? (For example: Marriage of Convenience).

    1. Vince, tropes like Marriage of Convenience, Mail-Order Brides, Reunion Romances, etc. are perennials. The trick is to find a fresh way of telling a story based upon one of those tropes. I don't know that there is one 'best' theme to write. It might be better to pick one or two of the popular tropes, and then write the best story you can using them.

    2. Erica, I agree. And the new age of technology has opened up huge doors for us to stretch our imaginations and think of how so many different scenarios can change things up in today's stories... In vitro babies, frozen embryos, arranged marriages in big Greek families.... :) So many fun notions. Or online dating!!! A whole new take on mail-order brides!

  8. Ruth, I consider myself a low-list but established author. I've self-published three books and am working on two others. But with all the blogging, social media, and marketing, I'm still not making any money. How do I know where to focus my efforts, other than trial and error? How much time should be spent marketing and how much writing, percentage-wise?

    1. Lila, spend more time writing than marketing for sure! Getting quality products out there should be the first priority. You can't market what you didn't write.

      For marketing, try to do some group efforts. Band together with other writers who write what you do and whip up a promotion, pool your resources, and cross-pollinate your readers with theirs. FB parties, giveaways, raffles, scavenger hunts, etc. Spread out the work and the cost, and reach more readers who have an interest in the types of books you write.

    2. Lila, Ruthy may have a totally different take on this. :) But from what I've seen at recent conferences, you just about have to do paid ads to increase visibility and sales at Amazon (I'm not sure about the other sites). You can find some blogs where they help you learn how to do the ads (and take some online workshops/webinars). I've heard it also helps to use places like Bookbub and other book promo sites. Here's a good list of those sites:

    3. Missy, that's all good advice!

      I think my take is different because I had ten books completed before I got published with Love Inspired so I had a nice backlog of books that weren't quite ready for publication, but the bones were there.... so a few years in, I started releasing them. So my scenario is different from the beginning, but that's why I always come back to the write... write... write... thing. Because those books, even if they're not quite ready are money in the bank! I firmly believe that.

      Now these were not my FIRST BOOKS WHICH WERE AWFUL.

      And I've taken some from those and used them for other stories, and that's worked out well, but having several books done before launching any is a solid way to get into the indie market.

      4 books complete...

      Release them about 6 weeks apart while writing the next two books... figure 45-65K for the books.

      You're saying WHAT???? :)

      But having books done ahead of time is our very best advertisement for ourselves...

      Lila, I'm so glad you've come over.

      Solid advice from Erica, too.... Keep on writing!

    4. Yes, like Ruthy said, releasing books often can also really help! And writing them in a series also helps. Also, link to the next books at the back of each book.

  9. I was about to write, "I wish I'd had you to teach me when I was a newbie." But then I realized...I DID! Thank you to Seekerville for all your teachings over the years, about craft, marketing, being a professional, life, and Jesus.

    Thank YOU, Ruthy! Because you've done a lot of that teaching yourself!

    1. Hahahahaha! That's what I love about being part of Seekerville... we all have our own stories, our own experiences and takes to draw on, and they differ... just like our readers/writers/villagers differ! Perfect!!!!

  10. First timer here. I'm nervous about agents--do I need one? how do I get one? also publishers. I'm in revision stage of a Biblical Novel

    1. Welcome to Seekerville, Naomi! You've come to a great place!

      I know Ruthy will be by to give her 2 cents worth, but I'll take a stab at your question, too.

      The short answer? No. You don't have to have an agent. Several publisher (including Love Inspired) accept submissions without an agent, and you definitely don't need an agent if you're goal is indie publishing. (I can hear you breathing a sigh of relief!)

      BUT - If you have set your goals toward traditional publishing, you should consider an agent. A good agent can help you navigate your career, find publishing opportunities, negotiate contracts (very important!), and become your best advocate. An agent also knows the ins and outs of the publishing world that most writers don't have access to.

      Finding an agent: A good place to start is to ask any author friends who their agent is, or if they could recommend one. Another place to look is on the ACFW Conference page to see which agents will be taking appointments at conference.

      Once you have a few names, go to their websites. That's where you'll find out how to query that particular agent and what kinds of books they represent.

      The same with publishers - go to their websites to see what kinds of books they're publishing.

      Have fun!

    2. Welcome, Naomi!!! Jan has some great advice re agents.

      I'll add: Don't be in a hurry. Do your research, talk to other authors, spend a bit of time reading the agents' blog posts, FB posts, etc. You'll get to know them, what interests them, how they communicate. When you find one you think will be a good fit, then query them or arrange an appointment with them at a conference.

      They say that no agent is better than the wrong/a bad agent, and it's true. A little up-front research and patience can go a long way toward you finding the right agent for you.

    3. Naomi, welcome!! I'm so glad you asked your question. I actually sold 3 books (I think it was) before I got my agent. Also, I think Jan gave good advice!

    4. Ditto all of the above. These ladies covered it all. One add-on to Erica's advice about don't be in a hurry... my fourth agent is my "beloved" agent... The first one was from a contest and she had no street cred but she was absolutely "BUBBLED OVER" at a conference as the best new game in town and she signed me!!!! Huge mistake, darling... Next one was a sweetheart but nothing sold... Next one was after I sold on my own to Love Inspired and she was a lovely lady... but wasn't enthusiastic about my longer works... And parting with her was SO HARD because for all my bossy ways, I hate conflict. I'm a mom. We solve problems. We don't create them! They're way too much work! But then I got the courage to approach my current agent and we've been together for years... small books, big books, anthologies, mysteries.... and we're still having fun. :) But it was like dating, dear Naomi: I had to kiss a few frogs before finding the right match/mix. I needed someone who wasn't afraid to work as hard as I do... and I found that to be true in critique partners back in the day, too... if they're slow or lackadaisical, we are not a good match. Finding the right match is a tricky business!!!!

      And I'd love to hear more about your book!

  11. I have two books out and am working towards more, but I am struggling with branching out from online-only marketing. How do you get people to agree to have you do book signings and where are the best places for me to look to be mentioned other places besides online?

    1. Amy, if you have local bookstores, ask to talk to the community liaison about any opportunities they may have coming up. They might have local author book signings.

      Ask at your local library. Often they will have opportunities that focus on local authors, or writing groups that meet at their location that might be looking for speakers.

      If you have a couple of topics ready that you can speak on, make up some fliers and mail them to area churches' women's groups, community groups (Like the Elks, Eagles, Kiwanis, etc.) MOPS groups, and the like. These groups are constantly in need of and looking for speakers, and you can take your books to sell after the meeting.

      Regional or topical book conventions are out there, too. There are conferences for thriller writers, romance writers, mystery writers, etc. Consider attending those book fairs, conventions, and the like to get your name out there.

    2. Amy, I haven't found book signings to be very helpful. In recent years, I've mostly done them either as part of another event (like a speaking event) or just with local friends (like signing new releases at my church). In the past, when I've signed up to do craft fairs and such, I've ended up losing money (for example, I paid $50 for a table, and then sold maybe 3 books--and one was paid for by a check that bounced!). I just don't think you can beat online marketing.

      One thing you could possibly do is get your name out there as a potential speaker at events. Maybe find your niche--women's groups at churches or civic clubs, or whatever. Let people know you're interested in speaking. Put a tab on your website where you offer topics to speak on.

    3. One other thing if you want to do local book signings... I had a local independent bookseller that hesitated to have authors come unless their books were returnable to the publisher or distributor. Some aren't. And he didn't want to get stuck with unsold books. So anyone with books that aren't returnable, you can offer to buy any of the books that might be left and you'll be more likely to be approved for a signing.

    4. Honestly, Missy covered this one perfectly. I'm not a fan of book signings... I'd rather write.

      But I do love meeting people and I volunteer to address folks and talk to them about books/reading/romance/faith. But Amy, the best advice is to keep on writing.

      And it's never bad to develop a backlog of books and wait to release them until you have a bunch finished. That used to be the norm for people, waiting on traditional publishing to open the locked gate. There was a plus side to that locked gate... it pushed us to write more and have more in the "locker"!

  12. Okay, Ruthy, you said ask questions, so here goes lol. This is what I've been thinking about. What makes the writers like Stephen King, John Grisham, the Harry Potter books? What is the formula for selling those books like they do? Or, should you consider writing as a ministry, and if you sell a lot of books that's great? But if readers don't buy your books, how are your words getting out? So, I guess my question is, how do you become an author like them and sell all those books? Is it their agent, their publisher, extreme marketing, something else? Thanks for the great questions and answers so far!

    1. Sally, for Stephen King and John Grisham, it was writing good books, even after the first few didn't blow the world away. J.K. Rowling caught lightning in a bottle with Harry Potter.

      There seems to be little rhyme or reason why some book sell well and others don't. Sometimes it's visibility. The publisher throws a lot of money behind a story and gets the word out, end-cap and front table space at B&N and BAM, catalog space, etc.

      Most often, it's word of mouth. A book doesn't even have to be that well-written in order to go viral. The Da Vinci Code is an example. It isn't crafted on the highest order, and yet, the plot is so compelling, the pace so driving, that it becomes an un-put-downable book. It made readers feel anxious and intrigued, and they shared that experience with others, and so on and so on.

      Your job as an author is to write the best books you can, market them as you are able, and then rinse and repeat. Study your craft, read great books, study the market, and keep working. There are a lot of great books that don't 'go viral' and there are myriad reasons why.

      Just because a book doesn't hit the NYT Best-seller list doesn't mean it wasn't a good book, or that the author wasted her time.

      As to the 'writing as a ministry' thing...writing can be a ministry, but it is also a business. If you want to make money at it, you need to treat it as a business. That doesn't mean that God can't use your business to glorify Himself, in fact, that should be your main goal in your business dealings and the content you produce. But it is a business nonetheless.

    2. Erica and Missy, thank you so much! Yes, that makes total sense.

    3. I'm totally with Erica on this.

      And there's also the timing/luck factor. You write something totally "out there" and it becomes big... but remember that Stephen King sat for a long bit waiting for that first bite... Harry Potter was REJECTED a dozen times... and who knows? Maybe it wouldn't have done so well with one of those other houses???

      I know authors who are always searching for something to make them the Next Big Thing. They get mad about 50 Shades and Harry and Twilight with the "why not me?" syndrome.

      Sally, I am honestly so grateful every single day to be writing for pay, I don't care one whit about the Next Big Thing... because I don't need millions.

      Or want them.

      My wants are nothing I can buy with money.

      But I love being able to pay my bills with my mid-life career! THAT'S THE BEST!!!! :) Not having to work three jobs anymore???

      THE BEST!!!!

      I don't need six figure salaries...

      I can get by with five figures and some coffee.

      Accidents of timing... the fluctuations of the market... heck, if we had a crystal ball, we'd have all bought Intel at $6!!!!!


    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. I could probably come up with lots of questions, but I have a specific one related to the book I'm writing. A major plotline is a main character who is a meteorologist in a small TV station in Nebraska and aspires to get a job at the Weather Channel. Can I actually use the Weather Channel in that context and make it part of my story or is that a trademark type issue? Thanks.

    1. I would make up something that the reader would know is a fictionalization of The Weather Channel. Like WeatherWatch TV or something. That way you avoid any stickiness with copyright, and the other problem with using 'pop-culture' references, automatically dating your book if the Weather Channel somehow changes its name or goes off the air.


    2. Sandy, I was going to suggest the same thing Erica did. Especially if there's anything negative tied to the TV station in your story.

    3. I realize others have already answered this, but Ill back them up. In another life, I worked for Columbia Pictured doing this kind of research for scripts. We absolutely had to use a fake name (unless it was a place they were actually filming, and sometimes even then). You would not believe what people will sue over given the chance to make a little money. We had to be careful about everything - like even the brand name on a head of lettuce if it appeared in a supermarket scene.

    4. Thank you, everybody, for your suggestions.

  14. I've heard authors talk about receiving an R&R letter and some not realizing it was offering them the chance to publish their work or something along those lines. How can you be certain it is an offer or do you just do the work they're looking for and hope it will lead to publication?
    Is it better to send the manuscript on multiple queries at the same time or wait until you hear back? If you do send out multiple at the same time, do you mention it in your cover letter?
    Thanks for opening the floor for questions!Lee-Ann

    1. Lee-Ann, I sold my first book by revising a submission. In fact, I revised it twice. So I suggest always going ahead and making changes and resubmitting. If the editor doesn't see promise, she won't bother going to the trouble of having you revise it. So her taking the time to do so means you have a chance! Now, they won't always buy it. I have a friend who went through some revisions and then they passed on it. But I would always recommend revising and resubmitting when offered the chance. In looking at your question again, I'll add that an R&R is not an official offer to buy it. It's just a chance to have them look at it again. An actual offer would include terms such as the amount of the advance (if any), a due date, that type thing--which would be followed up by a contract to sign. (Hope I understood your question.)

      As for your second question... I can't really answer that. I'm not sure what the current etiquette is on that. Maybe someone else can offer more info on that.

    2. Missy, I agree on the R&R.... Some editors want to see if you're workable. Do you have what it takes to be part of a team effort? Are you adaptable? Will you work? And they can tell that by your response to an R&R letter... do you really change it? Do you take their advice? Do you have the guts to re-write an opening or a whole book? These are hugely important aspects.

      Now, the other part, about multiple submissions is DO IT. We do not have time to waste, I gave up waiting on very slow people years ago... and I have absolutely no problem telling folks to do multiple submissions for agents, stories/editors/publishers, etc. Agents do it all the time!

      We are not a sub-species.

      We are women and men, running a business, and I am not one to jump on another person's timeline because wasted time is lost money. Bah. Humbug.

      So I would send to multiple... sometimes I would tell them, but not usually because if it came to that moment, I'd explain. And that's what happened with my first contracted book, it had made it to the final rounds at Love Inspired and Super Romance and two great editors loved it... but Love Inspired came through with the offer and I quietly pulled it from Super Romance... and now I've got 25 Love Inspireds and Super Romance closed a few years back, so I am exactly where God and I wanted/needed to be.

      Multiple contests... multiple submissions.... multiple queries... whatever you have to do.

      And years after Melissa had contracted me, she mentioned meeting me at ACFW. Long before she was Senior Editor... and she surprised me by remembering that chance meeting in the hall... and by saying she'd been waiting to work with me. So we never know what tumblers have to fall into place to open doors... For me it was perseverance, learning to hone my craft and to BE QUIET sometimes and that chance meeting in the hall. :)

    3. Thank you so much! This is encouraging and helpful. I figured that an R&R might be used as a sort of test before a contract is given. Lee-Ann

  15. I always enjoy reading your articles of wisdom.

    1. Oh, you are so kind! :) Thank you, Lucy.

      It's such a tricky business and all of the original Seekers wished there were established authors who would be honest and forthright with us... but that didn't happen often so when we started this blog "Seekerville" it was to help wipe away the mystery of publishing, a business rife with SECRETS and SECRET CONTRACTS!!!!

      Do not tell anyone about that advance under penalty of D-E-A-T-H!!!


      That's what it felt like, but the internet started making it EASY!!! for authors to talk, and when people talk, they leak secrets. And that was a good thing.

      But still it's a competitive business and not everyone yearns for others' success... as if with 300,000,000 people there isn't enough of an audience/readership.... but there is.

      We were convinced of it!

      And here we are, a new crew, some crusty oldies, and still sharing stuff. Because it's a good thing to do. Thank you again for your kind words!

  16. Hi Ruth:

    This post should be marked to run again as an archive favorite. Also, the questions and answers here in the comments could make a very good post on their own. Very helpful.

  17. .
    “It was the kind of library
    he had only read about in books.”

    ― Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader

  18. Ruthy! I'm so glad I checked in tonight. (And please don't enter me in the drawing. I loved Thea's story, and I can't wait for Jazz's story.) So many great questions in that post lead me to think of so many that are swirling in my mind. So right now I'm waiting for the release of my debut novel. Any do's and don'ts for someone who has six months before their first book is published would be greatly appreciated.

    But I want to thank you, Ruthy, because the encouragement of the Seekers and the Villagers was beyond helpful as I waited for the call. Loved this post and your encouragement for writers to ask real questions.

  19. Thank you, Ruthy, and all the Seekers for your sincere willingness to share with yet-to-be-published and published authors from your vast treasury of publishing expertise. I have many times benefited from the teaching posts and encouragement. Have a lovely weekend, Everyone.

  20. Ruthy, Thank you for sharing your wisdom nuggets!

  21. What a wealth of knowledge! I'm not a writer, but it's exciting to see Christian authors sharing their experience with others. Thank you!


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