END I am finished answering questions. This has been great. Thank you all so much for the great questions!

My Bio: I am a Wall Street Journal bestselling author who found success after writing for 20 years. Unable to get the attention of an NY publisher, in 2011, I self-published five novels, including my first thriller which had never been submitted by my agent. All of my books feature strong female characters. Within the first year, I signed with Amazon's thriller and mystery imprint, Thomas & Mercer. I have now sold over two million e-books.

My Proof: http://www.theresaragan.com/media-room/

Comments: 1121 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

workoutaholichick801 karma

Extremely cliche question but here goes - What's the one advice you'd give to aspiring writers?

AuthorTRRagan1827 karma

Ooh, only one? Ha. Number one would be to do everything you can to learn your craft. Join a writer’s group in your area or find another writer you can exchange pages with. Also read as much as you can. Most great writers are big readers. If you want to write a thriller, start reading thrillers. Dissect them, see what the great authors do. Why do you like their dialogue or plot? What are they doing to hold your attention? Write as often as possible, every day if you can. Don’t worry too much about the first draft. Get it down on paper. The best writing is in the revision. I love the quote by Nora Roberts, something about “You can fix a bad page, but you can’t fix a blank page.” Also, believe in yourself. You can do it!

fairly_bookish589 karma

I love the quote by Nora Roberts, something about “You can fix a bad page, but you can’t fix a blank page.”

This has been my biggest hurdle. I have a bad habit of going back and revising what I've already written instead of just pushing ahead until the entire draft is finished.

KinseyH374 karma

"You can't revise a blank page, but you can revise crap."

AuthorTRRagan138 karma

Thanks! :)

AuthorTRRagan144 karma

Stop going back to your first page. Get through the entire manuscript and then go back. Get to the end!

Vvalevevas295 karma

How did you finance your dream?

AuthorTRRagan495 karma

Good question. I had literally zero money in the beginning. That's why you can find Blogger or other places to make a free website. All social media is free. I would use birthday money to go to conferences and share a room with other authors. Join a local writing chapter if you can. And then have friends and family read your book and get feedback, but hopefully you can find family and friends that read a lot. Google editors. Some editors and proofers will edit your book for a few hundred dollars. If you can't do that, send your book to a contest and get feedback. Use social media and then once you make a little money, put it back into your career.

5pecial163 karma

How much money have you made?

AuthorTRRagan272 karma

After making NOTHING for 20 years, I am now making a very comfortable living. And more than I ever dreamed I would make.

SibilantSounds114 karma

Surely you made something doing something.

How did you pay your bills in the meantime?

Not being snarky, genuinely curious.

AuthorTRRagan472 karma

I had a husband who had a full time job. After we had our fourth child, my paycheck did not cover daycare so we decided together that I would stay home with kids, which is a full time job in itself. I wrote late at night after kids were fed and put to bed. I wrote early in the morning before they woke up, and I wrote at their sporting events and in the car while waiting for them to get out of school. My husband put the food on the table. We have always worked together as equal partners. Now I write and he helps me with foreign translations and brainstorming books! Where there is a will there is a way!

allnamesfckintaken14 karma

well it's 2 million ebooks. let's say he sold it at 5 bucks each and gets about 50% back. he has at least 2.5 million dollars. that's a very low estimate but for someone who went from nothing, he's basically set for life.

Sean_Campbell135 karma

Thomas and Mercer typically pay 50% net royalties.

KDP pays 70% above $2.99, 35% for $2.98 or less (and VAT comes off the top in the UK/ other markets where the price is tax-inclusive).

2 million books at 99c = 2m x $0.35 = $700,000... which for 20 novels would be just $35,000 per book. Not bad, but not anywhere near $2.5m. Your low estimate is incredibly high.

At $5 each, KDP would pay $3.50 and T&M $2.50. 2m copies would therefore be $7m / $5m.

So there's your range. 2m books is worth somewhere between $700,000 and $7m dollars ish - but that doesn't account for paperbacks, deep discount sales, translation rights, audio etc, which could skew the number markedly.

Don't forget that's for 20 years of work, and the tax burden of having all that money in a short time frame is huge compared to spreading it out over 20 years. It's also gross of costs which could be significant.

AuthorTRRagan67 karma

Thanks, Sean. Great answer!

heroin-enthusiast110 karma

When do you know a story is "done"? No more rewriting and revising, it's complete. How many drafts do your normally go through? Do you ever wish you could go back and change something previously published? If you do, how do you set an atmosphere for writing? Coffee, music, low lights, whatever. What would you say is your strong point as a writer? How do you write your "hooks"? How do you personally try to engage the reader from the get go, and keep them reading?

I have so many questions. D: I'll stop there.

AuthorTRRagan141 karma

Wow, yes, this is a lot of questions! I will do my best. Just ask again if I miss something. I know when a story is done...meaning where it should end, BUT I usually feel as if I could edit and keep editing. It would never stop if I didn't just get to a point where I said "Enough already!" Yes, I have wanted to make a character in my Lizzy Gardner series alive again. :) I have to have tea or coffee, water and a loud fan in the background to provide white noise so I don't hear my husband walking around the house! No music. Lots of light. I think my strong point as a writer is being a storyteller. And characters. I really become my characters. Scary but necessary.

divine_sense110 karma

Wow 20 years!! That's amazing perserverance.

My question is what kept you going through the tough times? And where do you see yourself in the future?

AuthorTRRagan149 karma

Thank you! Great question! I did try quitting for six months, but I couldn’t do it. I loved to write and I knew I was going to keep writing whether I ever got a book published or not. When I got a rejection in the mail, I would allow myself to feel sorry for myself for the rest of the day. And then the next day, I would force my butt into the chair in front of the computer and write. Even if I didn’t feel like it. I would force myself to submit pages to another editor or agent. One thing that really helped me during all of the tough times was telling myself that I was going to remain positive. For instance, when I couldn’t sell a book, my writing friends were all getting published and so I told myself that was a great thing to know that publishers were still buying new authors. Ha! Sometimes I wonder myself how I kept going, but I was determined to have my stories read. Also, I kept trying different genres. I wrote romance, medieval time travels, romantic suspense and finally out of extreme frustration with the industry, I decided to write thrillers. Killing off some characters was therapeutic. Ha! Anyhow, my first thriller was the book that took off. So, I like to think that everything happens for a reason. Let’s see, about the future, I like to think big, so I would like to see my books made into movies or maybe a TV series.

like_the_boss82 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA!

I was wondering: to what extent do you attribute your success to

  • a shifting social climate
  • your changed publishing strategy
  • your writing skills improving and perhaps breaking through a 'publishable' ceiling
  • other factors?

Many thanks! :-)

AuthorTRRagan134 karma

Great question. I attribute much of my success to e-books and to publishing platforms like the one Amazon provided. It made it possible for writers like me to skip the middlemen, upload their book, and see if readers liked their stories. Yes, writing for 20 years definitely helped my writing skills.

Ed_Moy62 karma

I've published my first ebook last year and can't find the audience that I know is out there. How did you get the word out to your readers so they could find your work? Did you advertise on key sites?

Did you contract out to a content editor? I didn't have the estimated $3,000 to have serious oversight on my material, so I DIY'ed mine as much as possible.

AuthorTRRagan57 karma

Yes, this is the number one complaint I hear from writers. Finding an audience isn't easy. Great books out there are not getting noticed. Cut you do need to find a way to make your book the BEST it can be before you put it out there. Your book, your story is going to be your number one marketing tool!

Gimlis_ghost29 karma

Hi T.R.! Thanks for doing this AMA, I was wondering how you got into writing and when? Had you always wanted to be a writer?

AuthorTRRagan53 karma

Hi there. Great question. I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until I was home on leave of absence from work. I was bored so my sister handed me Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor, a medieval romance. The escapism I experienced was so amazing that I knew I wanted to write my own novel and provide readers all over the world escape from laundry and dirty dishes. I started writing that day and never stopped. It took me five years to write my first novel, Return of the Rose. For the next 20 years, I wrote almost every day. I also joined Romance Writers of America. I attended workshops and conferences that were close by. I met other writers and I began to critique with some well established authors. I also entered contests for unpublished writers and received great feedback. I signed with two agents over the years and worked with an editor or two, adding pages to a manuscript, but still no sale. It was pretty discouraging, but I knew I had found my passion and I would never stop writing.

fairly_bookish4 karma

What made you transition from romance to thrillers? And how has your experience writing romance influenced your writing of thrillers?

AuthorTRRagan33 karma

I was super frustrated with the industry, mostly because I felt as if 20 editors/publishers were deciding who could be published. They rejected a lot of authors because they already had similar books. I read about Lisa Gardner transitioning from romance to thrillers and since I loved reading Stephen King, John Grisham, and Lisa Gardner, I decided to give it a shot. It took Lisa two years to make the switch. I started writing my first thriller and at first I couldn't sleep at night because of all the research I was doing on real-life serial killers. Once I figured out that my story was about my heroine being a survivor, I was fine with writing about serial killers. And I knew I had found my niche! Writing romance for so many years was learning about the craft: point of view, dialogue tags, characterization and plotting.

Eolmer23 karma

Hi there! It's great to see this AMA, I'm sure it will inspire a lot of people! Do you think the fantasy genre is full of writers right now? Is there any room for new aspiring writers? Why and how did you decide to finally self publish?

AuthorTRRagan47 karma

I don't write fantasy, but I've heard it's a crowded genre. But don't let anyone tell you that there isn't room for aspiring writers, because there is always room! You must believe in yourself. You must write the best book you can and don't give up! Why did I decide to finally self publish? Because I had been writing for 20 years and I still couldn't get interest from a NY publisher. I had nothing to lose at that point. I uploaded my book to see if there would be interest in my stories and I was blown away. I loved having full control of covers and hiring my own editors.

Black__Mesa22 karma

What is your method of writing? Do you have a daily word minimum? Carry around a note pad and jot whatever comes into your head?

AuthorTRRagan48 karma

I must write 1,000 words every day, but I shoot for 3,000 words. Of course, I have bad days where nothing gets done, but yes, I do make lots of notes. I like to make a long list of possible scenes for every book, many of which won’t be used. For instance, heroine could get chased by a car, interview a suspect, get a mysterious call, etc. I do believe in just sitting down and writing even if I don’t have an idea for a scene in mind. If I force myself to write something, anything, it’s amazing how the ideas will start flowing.

Ehrre22 karma

Really happy to hear about your success!

I am in my early twenties and have started the process of writing my first novel after getting the story worked out in my mind over the last 6 years.

Any advice for brand new novelists? What are some mistakes you made early on that you can advise against?

Thanks for you time :)

AuthorTRRagan53 karma

My suggestion to you would be get that story out of your head an onto paper! I wish I had started writing in my twenties. I was 33 when I got started. Now I am 57. The best thing I did was to write every day whether I wanted to or not. I wish I had spent less time submitting to agents and editors and more time writing books. But I didn't know self-publishing would ever become a thing. Read and write. That's what you need to do!

makenzie7118 karma

What kind of car do you drive?

So far Adam Savage and the lovely T. R. Ragan are the only people who have answered this question.

AuthorTRRagan19 karma

Ha! A Toyota Highlander. Black.

ThEtTt10118 karma

Hi, thanks for doinf this ama. How did you support your writing for 20 years? If you have had second jobs how did juggling between writing and a second job affect your social life?

AuthorTRRagan59 karma

I was a legal secretary and once I had my fourth child, my husband and I realized we were spending more than I was making on childcare. That's when I quit to stay home. I wasn't a domestic woman. I needed more and that's when I started writing. I wrote late at night and early in the morning. I wrote while in the car waiting for the kids to get out of school. I kept a tape recorder next to my bed. We had a small house with six of us living there. It's amazing what you can accomplish if you really want something bad enough. You don't get as much sleep as you would like when kids are small or when juggling another job, but it's still doable. I remember having to give up Oprah when I realized that was taking up one hour a day that I could be writing.

amiintoodeep18 karma

As someone who made a living for five years via self-publishing ebooks, it blows my mind that the "traditional" publishing system still exists - it's utterly crammed with politicking, marketing, and companies only making "safe bets." People understand how ridiculous the music industry is, but they don't appreciate that the writing industry has been around a LOT longer and isn't any better. Look at how many of the world's most classic novels were turned down by multiple publishers... I dare say that until the internet a good portion of the world's best books and stories never even had the chance to reach a wide audience.

Do you believe that the traditional commercial publishing structure will ever "go extinct"? Do you think it should? Do you feel that the difficulty you faced in finding commercial success helped you in any way, or that it was simply a frustrating waste of time? What was the impetus that finally convinced you to publish ebooks?

AuthorTRRagan12 karma

I love your post. And I agree! I did think that traditional publishing was going to disappear. I don't think it can sustain itself in its current state and it needs to evolve like most industries, but as long as it has big names keeping it afloat, maybe it will always be around. A lot of authors don't want to do all the work involved with self-publishing, so there's that, too. I do think that the difficulty I found helped me find success in a big way. My fourth child was going off to college and my time was up. Time for me to get a job that pays and that's when I read about some author friends self-publishing and finding success. I had nothing to lose at that point. I had a thriller that had never been submitted, so I parted ways with my agent and that book was the book that found success right away. I do think timing had a lot to do with its success.

thekingoflondinium16 karma

Hey T.R., two questions. What were the biggest challenges of self publishing? And how were you able to market yourself and your novels?

AuthorTRRagan37 karma

The biggest challenge with self-publishing is exposure, getting noticed, getting read. If you have a good story, I suggest trying everything in the beginning. If you don’t have much money, start a free website and maybe blog about your journey. Get on Facebook and Twitter, talk to readers and share things about yourself. If you can get interviewed on a reader’s blog, do it! It’s all time consuming, but you want to get noticed. Most successful self-published authors swear by great covers and great editing to start! About your second question, I did exactly the above. I did everything and anything. I said yes to interviews and blog posts. I joined Facebook and Twitter. I answered readers questions. I did book signings. Anything I was asked to do, I did. The bad news is that I did so many different things, I wasn’t really sure which things worked and which things didn’t.

jpbronco16 karma

I have thoroughly enjoyed your Lizzy Gardner series. You touch on vulnerabilities and violence towards women. Is there something in your past that you have personally overcome that gives your characters the strength to overcome their obstacles?

AuthorTRRagan20 karma

I grew up with Mom and five sisters. Yes, I do believe my past and things I have been through made me want to write about strong women who could overcome most obstacles. It's empowering.

TooKawaii4You14 karma

I love writing, and it's always been a dream of mine to find success in it. One of my biggest problems, though, is confidence. I'll start working on a story, then I'll leave it anywhere from a week to 6 months simply because I don't think it's good enough to continue writing. My question is, how did you force yourself to keep writing every day, even if you didn't feel like it or if your confidence wavered?

AuthorTRRagan22 karma

Yes! Confidence is key! Not everyone is going to like your story. I had someone say they wanted to burn their eyes out after reading one of my stories. ha! Every favorite write of mine, including Stephen King, has received on or two nasty reviews. You must believe in yourself because if you don't, nobody else will. But you also need to develop a thick skin and I know I can get better and better. Many writers don't worry about getting to the next level with their writing. I do. I know there's always more to learn. Keep reading! If you want to write a romance, read a lot of romance novels. If you plan to write a thriller, read thrillers. But yes, you must believe in yourself. I force myself to write by sitting my butt in a chair in front of my laptop and then even if I am not in the mood to write, I write because it is my job. The first few sentence might be crap, but the good stuff will come eventually!

idontknowofficer10 karma

Has this success made you a millionaire? Have you met other well known best selling authors?

AuthorTRRagan37 karma

I have met many successful authors. More writers than ever are making enough money to write full time. I will say that when you self-publish you can make 70% of royalties on every book. Once you sell to a publisher, they will negotiate a lower royalty percentage.

UCgirl8 karma

Do you think your gender or your protagonists genders played a role in your difficulty being published?

I definitely plan on checking out your books!

AuthorTRRagan20 karma

Yes, I do. I remember one publisher turning down my first romantic suspense because the heroine was tougher than the hero. She saves him in one scene and they didn't like that. Thanks for checking out my books! I appreciate it!

spirallix7 karma

Hey I'm not into writing or publishing.
But: "Lets pretend you gave your very best and wrote a really good book in your opinion."
What holds you back from publishing a book (most of the time) and why ?

AuthorTRRagan24 karma

If I wrote a really good book, I would hire a cover artist and an editor and nothing would hold me back from publishing it.

TheFishSeattle7 karma

What do you think separates a real writer from a person who just feels like they could do it?

AuthorTRRagan29 karma

Sitting in front of a computer every day and writing. Doing all you can to learn about the industry and your craft.

anuragkadiyala6 karma

Hi, are you planning on changing your genre of writing anytime soon? (Not criticism, just curious)

AuthorTRRagan12 karma

Ha. No. I love writing thrillers and I think it just took me 20 years to find my niche.

Ikosnyg556 karma

I understand if this is more personal than you'd like to answer, but before you achieved success, how did you get by financially?

You have amazing perseverance, it is truly inspiring. I think we can all take a life lesson from your story.

AuthorTRRagan39 karma

I had a husband who had a full time job. Once we had our fourth child, my paycheck went to childcare and there was no point in working outside of the house. So, that's when I wrote late at night, early in the morning, and in the car while waiting for kids to get out of school. I also kept a tape recorder by my bed and in the car so I could take notes. Thank you!

lichorat5 karma

Do you still think publishers and agents are worth it?

AuthorTRRagan13 karma

It depends on where you are at. Go with your instincts. In the beginning I had signed with two different literary agents because you couldn't get read by a publisher without one. Once I started self-publishing, I parted ways with my agent. Once I started selling books and I signed with Amy Tannenbaum with Jane Rotrosen Agency because she is amazing and she helps me with everything while I write my next book! So yes, they are worth it. I love working with Amazon's Thriller imprint, Thomas & Mercer. They think outside of the box and they have great ideas! Very helpful people.

doesntgetsocialcues4 karma

Wow, 20 years is really impressive. I admire your commitment.

If it's okay, I have a question about the craft, and I want to give a bit of background. I'm a poet, and I've been writing for a few years. I'm almost done with a book of sonnets. I'm at around 30 or so, but still working on it. Unfortunately, the market for poetry isn't that great so I want to transition into writing prose.

I've noticed that in poetry, having a keen ear for rhythm has really helped. I would sit down with a classic poem and study one for at least a hour or two every morning for a year or two. Only after that did I get into writing my own. That's improved my poetry tremendously, much more than just blindly composing my own work.

So my question is this: Is there an aspect of prose that you think is critical to your success that most fledgling writers are weak on? Obviously writing everyday is important, but what aspect do you think needs to be strong to be a good writer?

I hope my question makes sense. Anyway, thank you for your advice, and once again, congratulations of your success. It's an inspiration.

AuthorTRRagan6 karma

I truly believe that a good story is all about great CHARACTERS and a fun story. If readers like a character and care about them, they will keep coming back for more. The one not-so-good thing is that there are great stories out there that might never make it big. There are no guarantees no matter what you do. I like your side to transition prose into a novel. Good luck with your writing!

dontfeedghandi4 karma

what is the process of self publishing?

AuthorTRRagan14 karma

It's all there on my website theresa ragan . com under WRITERS and SELF-PUBLISHING TIPS.

ablazedave4 karma

Hi T.R., congratulation with your (finally, wahooo!) successful publishing!

  • How do you feel your success is similar and/or different from that of Andy Weir and "The Martian"?
  • Do you feel self-publishing being a viable platform for emerging authors?
  • It took you 20 years for a big break, how much of that do you attribute to; the difficulty of producing a successful work, technological changes allowing for wide-spread cheap distribution, or other factors?
  • How do you see the still very dominant publishing oligarchy changing as more self-published authors find success? Will they be a Blockbusters or a Netflix?


AuthorTRRagan8 karma

Hi there! I think I am an outlier and so is Andy Weir. His book took off and found tremendous success. I don't know him or his personal story, but after 20 years and then having the Lizzy Gardner series take off, I did feel like an overnight success. I wish I could get someone to make a movie or TV series! That would be cool. I do think that self-publishing is a viable tool for emerging authors. It gives them a chance to get readers and maybe valuable feedback. It gives authors more options if they decide not to go the traditional route. I attribute my success to finding my niche, which was and is writing thrillers. I also give my success to Amazon for providing a wonderful platform, giving authors the choice to skip the middleman. Lower prices, I'm sure, was another big factor. I think my timing worked out well for me. There was an online site at the time called "Pixel of Ink" where a reader said great things about one of my time travel novels. things sort of took off from there. And then once I was picked up by Amazon's thriller imprint, they were able to take me to the next level. that was also a huge factor. Authors will always have plenty of competition. Readers have lots of books to pick from. But I think it was always that way. I remember spending hours in the library looking through books and trying to decide which one I wanted to read. And if you mean, will Amazon be the next blockbuster or netflix? Sure. Maybe. Why not? They are innovative, cutting edge, and anything is possible.

greatchild004 karma

Do you stand by your comments you made in 2015 about all men having rape tendencies?

Galactica41 karma

She said what now????

AuthorTRRagan2 karma

I never said this. And never would.

waht_a_twist163 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. I love your story. Any life advice you'd give to anyone, writer or not?

AuthorTRRagan6 karma

Ha! Yes, be grateful for all the good people in your life. Life can be challenging, but I have always appreciate a good challenge. Take care!

Lereas3 karma

How many manuscripts do you usually go through before one gets accepted?

I'm writing a novel but realizing that it'll probably be one of many that never go anywhere before I finally get picked up (if ever). What keeps you motivated when you know you may be writing something that will never be read by anyone? It's really discouraging.

AuthorTRRagan10 karma

I used to read my manuscripts over at least 50 times before I sent them out. Now I read them about five times and then they are sent to a developmental editor and we go back and forth for a month. Then the manuscript goes to a copy editor and then a proofer. It is difficult to stay motivated, but you must find a way. Can you submit the first three chapters to a contest and get feedback? Critique groups with other writers can be helpful. It was discouraging for me and that's why after 20 years I decided to starting killing off my characters. It was therapeutic and it allowed me to find my niche. I am wishing you much luck!!!

brushwood_dog3 karma

What made the difference? As in, what allowed you to achieve success with you work through independent publishing versus a publisher? Did you already have a fan base online before you self published?

AuthorTRRagan5 karma

I did not have a fan base when I started self-publishing. I did have a lot of writer friends. I also uploaded my first romance novel back in 2011 when e-books were just gaining traction. I think timing helped me out. The only reason I didn't sell to a NY publisher at the time is because I couldn't get their interest!

pressthebuttonfrank3 karma

Do you have any tips for those who write short stories? Mine are just for private consumption and not really for publication.

AuthorTRRagan3 karma

I don't have any tips because I think short stories are more difficult to write than a longer novel. But if you ever do want people to read your stories, you should get a great cover designer and editor and put it out there for people to read!

jhpb933 karma

How did you not give up? My moms been trying to write children's books for a couple years now and hasn't gotten anywhere and I can see she's close to giving up already. What should I tell her to keep her going? Her books really aren't bad at all

AuthorTRRagan4 karma

I think she needs to write for her own enjoyment. I kept writing because I loved to write, knowing I might never sell a book. I wish I had a better answer for you.

rambopr3 karma

Why do you feel the need to emphasize your use strong female characters?

AuthorTRRagan-2 karma

Only because strong female characters are important to me. That's what I want to write about. It's that simple.

corroded3 karma

What software programs do you use to help you write?

AuthorTRRagan3 karma

I don't use any. I've heard of programs like Scrivener? And then there's that dragon speak where you dictate. I just use Microsoft Word on my Mac. I don't use spell check either since that's what editors are for!

SternLecture2 karma

How do you know you have a book to write? Do you worry what you want to write is good enough?

AuthorTRRagan6 karma

I think most writers worry that their book isn't good enough, especially the first time you put a story out there for everyone to read. It's all subjective though. Some of my favorite authors are not enjoyed by all. There is something for everyone and that's the beauty, I believe, of finding your voice and writing the best story you can!

CommanderXena2 karma


Congratulations on your success! Do you see writing as a main career? Would you be willing to quit your day job for it?

AuthorTRRagan7 karma

Yes, I now write full time. A lot of authors I know are asking themselves that question...whether or not they are willing to risk quitting the day job to write full time. I would never tell anyone to do it. It's up to each individual to decide. Maybe save up enough money to cover living costs for a few years?

Vestorri2 karma

From an aspiring writer who's currently planning his first book:

1) How much planning do you do before writing? 2) Do you have a favourite author? 3) Would you recommend publishing on Amazon?

Thank you for the opportunity!

AuthorTRRagan7 karma

While I am writing one book, I usually have ideas for others in my head. I always have too many ideas! But mostly, I do know my character's career, usually a private detective and I know what the main case that will be weaved through the story and most of the time, I know my ending. But then I sit down and write. I have outlined before, but the finished product ends up so different from the outline, so I stopped doing that. Yes, I would recommend publishing with Amazon. I love that they have provided an easy platform for you to see how readers will respond to your stories. You can always hit "Unpublish" if you want!

RockLee4562 karma

As an aspiring author, could you possibly describe the publication process? I've been meaning to write something about depression (in hopes of helping people through it,) but the entire editing and publishing thing is intimidating me.

AuthorTRRagan6 karma

If you're talking about self-publishing, I list the steps in detail at my website. theresa ragan . com It's time consuming and you just need to do what step at a time. First finish your book!

susrev1 karma

Did you fire your agent?

AuthorTRRagan5 karma

The contract stated 60 days or maybe even 30 days. I just let them know I was going off on my own. Recently, though, because I want to spend more time writing and less time on everything else, I signed with Amy Tannenbaum at Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Suckmynahs1 karma

How much money have you earned? Would you consider yourself successful?

AuthorTRRagan6 karma

As soon as I sold my first book to a reader who wasn't family or a friend, I was a success in my mind. It's different for everyone.

reddithater124 karma

But legitly, how much money does one earn by selling self-published e-books?

AuthorTRRagan5 karma

If you sell one book (self-published) for $2.99, you'll make 70%. There you go! If you sell to a publisher, you'll make about half that.

lichorat1 karma

Would you sell more volume though?

AuthorTRRagan2 karma

It depends. Many publishers don't do much marketing for authors. How many books skyrocket to the top? Not many. Finding an audience, finding readers, getting exposure is HARD. You just keep doing everything you can think of to get your name out there. Website, Blog posts, interviews, social media. Book signings.

TheShadowKick1 karma

How much of an impact do you feel the 20 years of practice had on your success? Do you think, if the systems for current self-publishing had been in place when you were starting out, that you could have seen this success earlier in your career?

AuthorTRRagan7 karma

Great question! I think I needed that 20 years. I didn't feel that way at the time, but now I am grateful for the way everything worked out. I really don't know if I would have been a success if self-publishing was around 10 years earlier. By the time it all happened, I had put in my 20,000 hours of writing and I think that's what I needed.

Thompson_S_Sweetback1 karma

Did you have help editing? If not, how did you know you were done?

AuthorTRRagan3 karma

I know I am at the end of my story when the black moment has been revealed and all story questions have been answered. But as far as editing goes, at some point you just have to let it go!


Thanks to your unique experience, is there anything you could say regarding perseverance that would go beyond typical advice on the topic?

AuthorTRRagan2 karma

I hate to simplify things, but my enjoyment of the writing process, writing a story from first page to last page, overrode all else. If I hadn't found enjoyment in the writing, knowing I might never sell a book, I don't know if I could have continued year after year. I did keep telling myself that I would get published and great things would happen. It sounds stupid, but positive reinforcement worked for me. I became grateful for everything around me on my most frustrating days. I would cry when a rejection letter came and then I would force myself to write again. I wanted it BAD!

thesammyjames1 karma

I am a writer considering self-publishing avenues via Amazon. How did you market your books once self-published to garner attention, and what advice would you give for successfully publishing with Amazon?

AuthorTRRagan2 karma

Once I uploaded my book, I spent the first three months writing blog posts and making book trailers using iMovie (I think that's what it's called). I put the videos on youtube and on my Amazon author page. I made a free website and I blogged every week. I started a twitter and Facebook account and wrote about my journey. I spent a few hours every day on social networking, interviews, blogs, and answering emails. I put myself out there and tried book signings, too. Ten of us could do all the same things and every writer will get different results. That's the frustrating part. You can do everything right, but there are no guarantees. Just take one thing at a time. Use your instincts and try everything!

SSlackhelmetman1 karma

Do you feel obligated to write books with female protagonist/main characters? And do you feel that sexism in books, media, culture, etc., is just one big paradox? (I.e. man-inists, disproving sexism by writing about men as a woman.)

AuthorTRRagan2 karma

I feel and know I can write whatever I want to write. Sadly, I do think sexism is alive and well. I will continue to write books I want to write with strong women. I grew up with four strong sisters and a mom. I'm writing what I know. :)

Ed_Moy1 karma

do you any suggestions for web sites or online social media that writers should hit harder than others?

I spent weeks "banging the drum" on GoodReads, Twitter, Facebook, but got very little feedback. Are there other places you would suggest?

Also, I understand that free copies "in return for reviews" can be seen as a slightly shady tactic, but is it good to try it anyway?

I quit my job and was unemployed for a year so I could dedicate all my time to my book and building social media, but when I burned up my savings and liquidated all my investments, I had to go back into the daily grind and have no time for my book anymore.

I'm looking for more focus on key sights or advertising in/on specific reader's sites. I have one more clear shot for this (taking out a two year loan from the bank) to advertise, get a copy editor and web admin.

The more I look into the void of self-publishing, the more I realize that I need a team of people that can help. I have the dream and vision, I have the material, but the actual "doing" of every other aspect of publishing and advertising is totally over my head.

And how do I get tapped by a journalist to even be ASKED to do an interview?

AuthorTRRagan2 karma

Wow, you have really gone all in. I wish I had advice for you, but I personally couldn't take all those risks. I knew that if I didn't sell a book, I was going to have to go back to work. And then self-publishing came along. I would have kept writing either way. I feel your pain. As far as journalists go, see if any would be interested in doing a public interest story on your journey. I did get a local paper to write about me when I was unpublished. If you told them about how hard the journey is, maybe they would want to tell your story. I really do wish I could help you further. Like I said, I put myself out there and I tried everything, but most things I did didn't cost a lot of money and I had my husband to put food on the table. I am wishing you all the best!