Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Risk vs. Reward: A Back to Basics Post

We hear this phrase all the time.

Risk vs. reward.

It means is the risk you're taking worth the reward you hope to glean? How do you measure that?

We hear "measured risk".

What you're doing has risk: the question is how much?

We hear "Return on Investment". 

Will you get more from your investment than the risk you're taking? 

These are questions small business people ask themselves, and if you're an author, you are a small business owner. You own you! And your product is for sale. Whether or not you're incorporated or running solo, you are the business person.

Is this the boring side of writing? 

Heck, no! It's a major component of any business, my friends, it's what separates the people who make a living writing and the dabblers. Now there is nothing wrong with dabblers.

Emily Dickinson was a dabbler... little known during her life in Massachusetts. If you look at her work now, you know that she was amazing. So if you're happy in your cozy space and spending hours a day on craft isn't your thing, that's okay!!!! You're okay! 

But if you view/see/consider your writing as a career, as  a valid choice for gainful employment, you need to look at risk vs. reward.

Some choices you make are low risk. Writing. Working. Editing. Writing some more. 

We hear so much between friends, advisories, industry professionals.

There are online classes and blogs (like this one!), professional gatherings, conferences (when there's no pandemic, right?) and loops full of professionals.

That last one can trip you up if you say too much. Remember, it's not a gathering of friends in your living room. It's a virtual group of sometimes hundreds of people, some of whom lurk, (including most editors and agents on loops) and watch and listen and learn about you.

It's good to bite your tongue. Don't over-react. Bide your time. Keep working. Remember the adage "It's better to let people think you're stupid than to open your mouth and prove them right."

There are grains of truth in that!

Social media can be your undoing... all of your time, talent and treasure can be swept under a rug if social media goes crazy on you. If you become a target of any group. Does your opinion matter?

Of course it does!

Mostly to you! :)

But when you put it out there, you may get 20 or 50 friends who jump all over you in sympathy but what about that editor or agent or publishing house? What do THEY see in your posts?

Do they see the fresh, eager, pleasant author that draws people to him/her?

Caveat: If your name is Stephen or Nora or Clive or J.K., this does not apply to you. Say what you want, because your sales are in the millions and that's not likely to change. Nor, are you generally on Facebook, so you get a pass... because your risk will not significantly affect your reward because you've already made millions of dollars.

And if you're voting blue or red or nondescript, do you want to alienate 50% of the shrinking pool of readers by being overtly political?

It's your choice, of course.

But choices have consequences. They always do. We teach our kids that every day, but sometimes we fail to see that in our adult lives. 

When I write a story I see the basic mathematical equation of Newton's 3rd Law: "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction."

When you put that into emotion and words, it becomes the back-and-forth flow of a great story. In life, it becomes the reality we immerse ourselves in.

Good or bad, negative or positive, whiny or stoic, introvert or extrovert, we are humans and we have control. How we use that control in our professional lives can make a great difference in how others perceive us and how our path is charted.

Your risks can have a definitive effect on your reward.

Your duty is to ask yourself "Is it worth it?"

And then take responsibility for whichever path you choose because you're a thinking adult. You know that actions have consequences... 

Are you ready to risk your potential reward to those consequences?

That's the crux of the question.

I'm celebrating the re-release of this beautiful story "Season of Hope", book 2 of my North Country series originally my debut Love Inspired novels... and I hope you win one! Leave a comment below and I'll tuck your name into the drawing for one of two copies of this wonderful book that shares the stories of two overcomers... and how they grabbed hold of God's second chance together!

Multi-published, bestselling inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne is immersed in pumpkin life on her farm in Western New York and gets up in the wee small hours to write stories that folks love to remember... A mother and grandmother, she can often be seen with coffee or Diet Mtn. Dew, cookies, dogs and cute kids. She loves writing about small towns and faith and the kind of people we meet every day, and Ruthy actually likes people (she is not an Emily Dickinson type!) and would love to hear from you! Email her at, visit her website or friend her on Facebook where she shares pics of the farm and family she loves. 


  1. Good post Ruthy. It's so hard to know what to do or say sometimes. I tend to err on the side of quietly cautious with some things and views I hold and whether I talk about them on any social media platform.

    But I do believe that sometimes you simply have to take the risk. Even in writing, sometimes you just have to leap and trust God to catch you! Actually, it's more than's lots of times :)

    I mostly want to get my books finished and find an agent and start the road to publication.

    1. That's right where I'm at too, Jess. :)

    2. Jess, that's so true. Sometimes I state my case and other times I just take a breath and walk on by.

      But in writing I'm not afraid to take chances because if my publishers won't publish it, I can self-publish and that works out well.

      Once you get to this stage of the business, you realize that a little latitude often makes you a better author. Go get 'em, Jess and Glynis!

  2. I am not a natural risk-taker. I bide my time, think things over--way too much, probably. This is probably the reason that I'm still where I am with my writing. I think I'm a late bloomer, so I'm just now understanding that there is little gain without risk. Your posts are always thought-provoking. Thank you so much! And congrats on the re-release. It looks wonderful!

    1. I wouldn't call you a late bloomer, Glynis. More like a mid-life career changer! You're still younger than I was when I started writing. :-)

    2. Glynis, I watch so many people flounder in this business and it's hard to get your footing. It can be really hard... but you've got the talent. I've seen it. So add the longevity and persistence to it, and you'll do well. I believe!

  3. Thank you, Ruthy, for this post. I'm not a risk taker. I asked my husband one day would you rather have two dollars or one chance to win a thousand dollars - I wanted the two dollars, and he'd take the 1 in a 1000 shot. I loved your reminder I'm human and I have control. Thanks for the timely message. Congratulations on your re-release. I love books about second chances ;) Have a great day!

    1. Tanya, there's a lot to be said for both sides. There are some uber successful people who don't take risks, per se, and they do fine.

      I always remember Karen White telling me that I should write what I want... then when I get published focus on that to build a name... and then write what I want again. :)


      One of my favorite stories was lauded as brilliant by an editor, turned down by two agents who didn't see a market for it, and then became an Amazon best seller that people loved....

      So editors and publishers know what they want.

      They often know what sells.

      But they don't always know what the public will buy, and that's a major distinction. And avid readers that love Kindle Unlimited, indie authors are marvelous.

      We are working in amazing times.

      And I always put down money for 50/50s for good causes... because it's for a good cause.

      But other than that, I don't waste money on tickets. :)

      We work hard for it...

  4. Thank you for this practical advice, Ruthy! Whether we overspeak or stay silent, our voices are ours to control, and that is so important to remember. The rewards are ours, but so are the consequences.

    This makes me ask the question, though, is having a social media presence a risk in itself? Wouldn't it be safer to stay off of it or have private accounts to communicate with personal friends only? I've actually been wondering this for a while and considered dropping my blog page from FB, because I am so very opinionated. Are the risks really worth the reward for the average author? How much *effective* marketing is done with social media? Does anyone have conversion rates, click-through counts, and sales reports from such? I'm very curious about this now.

    1. Boy, Rachel, that's a hot button question!

      So I left Twitter because of the horrible posts and negativity. I walked away from 5,000 followers because there was no reward for the risk. If you posted anything that supported a cause or a person, folks jumped all over you and after seeing careers ruined because of #twitteroutrage I realized that wasn't a sword I was willing to fall on.

      People say way too much.

      They attack.



      I kept Facebook because I love chatting with readers, I love posting pics, and I love seeing what's going on in folks' lives... and praying for them. So that's much more like a ministry.

      Twitter was frankly evil and derogatory and I found it was messing with my perceptions. I like happy perceptions! I like Pollyanna stuff. Yeah, bad stuff's going to happen, but gee whiz, get a grip, pull up the big kid britches and get on the way.

      Whining, pouting, accusing and fussing.... oh mylanta, it's a tedious world to pander to such things!

  5. Hi Ruth:

    I was reading this post and before I knew it I was having a Yogi Berra moment, you know, 'déjà vu all over again'.

    Wow! Two Ruth wisdoms in a row is like giving a fast ball hitter two change ups in a row. Talk about risk. Was Sal Maglie called the barber?

    Yet, think about this, "Sometimes the risk is the reward". Skydiving anyone?

    Let writing be its own reward, make God your co-author, do what you love and view the journey as one long glorious destination.

    And, yes, I do love "Season of Hope" best because my favorite hero is the single man who takes in and makes a home for a deserving woman and her adorable children. That's making a good life, long term, for others and to me, that's a real hero. (That's why I also love Missy's "A House Full of Hope" -- heroes for a lifetime.)


    1. Vince, I remember how you loved this from way back... and I might still have a card you sent me about it!

      I think that was the appeal of "His Mistletoe Family", too... an older single man who takes a risk on happiness with a woman and those two precious boys.

      Now I must write more single men and women with children!!!!

      And yes, the risk is sometimes the reward.... a roller coaster! Skydiving! Hot fudge sundae!!!!! :)

      But these are precarious times in the social media/writing world and you have to have broad shoulders to move forward.

      There are some pesky peeps out there, my friend.

    2. Hi Ruth:

      There has always been the pesky, and there has always be 'social media', or gossip and such. What is so different now is that everything said is instantly retrievable and even photoshopped to the extent that it was'nt even said in the first place. This is like having a thouand spouses who never, ever, forget a single slight no matter how slight it was.

      I heard a motivational speaker years ago who reminded everyone that we have two ears but only one mouth -- which was God's way of telling us to listen twice as often as we spoke.

      There was a time when the advice, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all", used to apply. However, now a days, if you say something nice about the 'wrong' people, you're subject to being cancelled anyway.

      It seems that Kris Kristofferson might have been wrong: "Freedom is having something to lose".

      So sad.

    3. Vince, you are a sage and a philospher.

      I love how you reflect from one thing to another with gentle purpose. You are a gifted author in your own right.

      I wish the social media bullies weren't so powerful but I've seen it first-hand in publishing and writing and it's an ugly business. Publishers don't just shy away from trouble. They run, screaming, because the online hordes are relentless and there's no recourse as yet.

      Until we see a societal shift away from it, it's wise for authors to walk cautiously. I don't want to see anyone targeted or "cancelled".

      How utterly rude and obnoxious that is.

      Thank you, Vince. Thank you.

  6. Another day of Ruthy motivation, which is always good! Thanks, dear friend!

    1. Deb, I know we've talked about this in the past.... it's a bit of a tightrope, what to do, say, who to follow... but then there's the part of us as Christians that should be able to just be true to one's self and believe what we believe.
      But I AM VERY CAREFUL about saying it in public.


  7. Oh, Ruthy, I hear you. It's all too tempting to let every thought have free rein on social media, isn't it? Because, of course, my opinion is the only right one and if I just trumpet loud enough I'll change everyone else's mind *heavy sarcasm!*

    I decided years ago that I wouldn't try to be completely "me" on social media. Not that I want to put a fake persona out there, just a public one. I don't share my entire life, but enough so that folks can get to know me a little. And that part of me that I share is (hopefully) restrained, gracious, and kind.

    But the closer we get to the election, the more I have to keep scrolling by the crazies, or just get off the internet all together. I know that if I try to join in THAT conversation, I'll just be another one of the crazies!

    That's only on social media, though. My friends and family know exactly how I feel about things - for good or bad. :-)

    1. Yes!!!! Yes!!!!! Yes!!!!!!! That's it, 100%. :)

      And I don't care if folks don't agree....

      it's the angry attacks....

      Like Yowza!

      Then I think that we used to have more civilized discussions... and then I remember the founding fathers and the first elected officials and Cain and Abel and I realize it all kind of goes around...

      And around...

      Pass the chocolate and bring on the Hallmark movie. :)

  8. I think you hit the nail on the head on why I am so bad about lurking in several of the groups I belong to. I will say, though, that Seekerville has always felt safe. :-) Thank you for that.
    And that book cover looks scrumptious!

    1. Isn't it nice? Beth did a great job of giving the books a "series" look, exactly what I wanted. So I'm happy!

      And I'm so glad Seekerville feels safe. It should. And honestly folks should be able to talk about professional things in a professional way.

      Thanks for coming by, Amy!

  9. Fantastic post, as usual, Ruthy! You have so much wisdom, and I love that you're willing to share it with others. That's one of the things I love so much about the Christian fiction writing/reading community. You're all so willing to share what you've learned with others and cheer them on!!

    I've never done Twitter, and now I'm glad for the reasons you stated. There's so much negativity around and so many angry, obnoxious, blaming people who think nothing of saying terrible things and destroying people. Maybe there's a good side to being technologically challenged, huh?

    1. Winnie, thank you! I love that about Christian fiction, too. The realization that we can help others is a wonderful thing!

      And I think the big problem with the awfulness of Twitter is that people can have multiple "handles" and they can be anonymous... so I could be foxybookchic or stargazer410 or woodcuttergirl and all be the same person... so there's no accountability. It's like Mitt Romney being Pierre Delecto on Twitter so he could follow people and they didn't know it was him.

      OH MY STARS.

      I find that surrounding myself with negativity weighs on me... so why do it?

      Wise choice, Winnie!!!

  10. Hi Ruth:

    I believe that a key consideration in applying a risk/reward ratio is recognizing those situtations in which such a ratio does not apply.

    Sometimes the mathematics of the heart cannot be converted into the currency of the cashbox. The similarity is an illusion. It's like the difference between a 'change of heart' and 'change for a dollar'.

    It's like the romance staple: the husband lost his beloved wife to breast cancer and now is in love with a woman who has also had breast cancer. Can he take the risk to gain the reward of a second chance at love? And what about her risk? Her husband was a cop killed on duty and her new love is a trooper! You don't need algebra to figure this out. You just need the wisdom of the heart.

    As such I content that the risk/reward mechanism does not apply in the above example.

    And yet: can there be any 'second chance' romances without such a risk?


    1. Well, I disagree about the R v R in those examples from a mathematical perspective but not from a romantic one! "The Lawman's Second Chance" and "Loving the Lawman" are such beautiful stories... I love them.

      So there is risk and reward... but can the heart be trusted without the brain? And then we have the emotional make-up of the character to contend with and characters can be such pesky things! :)

  11. I'm VERY late to the party. Hard day yesterday. But I couldn't agree more about weighing the risk vs reward, especially in interactions with others online. We must be very careful what we share, sharing authentically and yet with a filter.

    And yeah, after the xxx rejection, will we risk trying again to be published or is the risk too great? Sometimes the reward comes in the trying again, the growing as a writer, and growing in our walk wtih the Lord.

    Your cover for your story is so pretty, Ruthy.

    1. Jeanne, you're never too late for our parties!

      And yes, a writer's growth comes in leaps and bounds or tiny increments, and that's okay, either way. A focus on God and not us helps. But then we're human and mess up.

      Oh, silly us.

  12. I always appreciate your posts because you are always spot on!

  13. Thanks for this post, Ruthy. I think I have a love-hate relationship with social It all depends on how one uses it. It can be a great tool to connect readers and authors.

    1. Lee-Ann, that's a smart relationship, my friend! Walk softly and carry a big stick. :)


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