Rachael published her first book 10 years ago and her second book is going on sale soon. In that time, self publishing has changed dramatically. We discuss those changes and the good things that have come about with self publishing.

Her Book



So let’s move on, talk some author stuff and before we get on our topic let me ask you a couple other questions.

Your books are about 10 years apart or so. , what did you learn doing the first one that you’re doing different now or you have done different with the second one?

Rachael: Oh my God, when I read the first one, now it’s so cringy. I think that , just as you grow and mature, if you’re continuing to write, hopefully you get better.

And that is the result, right? That you’re like, oh my God. . But yeah, specific things. I think I was so histrionic in my first book. Granted it was a memoir, but just, I just say things that aren’t interesting about myself. You know how younger people tend to think that they’re more interesting that they than they are , right?

You pick that, you’re like, oh God. Yeah, I. I read it and I think, oh my God, I use the word just so much. That’s, I think every writer has their , little idiosyncrasy that you’re just like, ah, why did I have to say just a thousand

Stephen: times? Just, and that I, my software will pick up that.

And I’m like, oh, I did not realize I used that 21 times in this chapter. God, I know. Yeah, I know. But, so the software is good because it’s helping me learn and get over some of those. I find them as I’m thinking ’em or typing them. I used to start a lot of sentences with i n g words and I’m like, wow, I didn’t realize I did that so much.

Don’t get that out.

Rachael: Or what’s it called when you sorry, again.

Stephen: No. When you.

Rachael: Or like switching tenses. Sometimes I pick up on that or there’s just all kinds of little things that I’m like, oh God, I can’t believe I put that out into the world, .

Stephen: And the thing is, when I was starting, I’m like, what is wrong with this sentence?

It sounds fine. And as I learned more, I wrote more, I started realizing the stumbling way the writing sounded, or I was like, wow, that does sound. But as just a reader, you don’t necessarily always notice it until it’s so much. Yeah.

Rachael: Yeah. We’re probably our own worst critics. Please let that be true.

But, or like repository writing. Like, why did I tell them that when I can show them that? Which,

Stephen: oh, that’s of the things’ I, not that I’m an old writer but I tell newer writers and kids, I work a lot with kids. Stop worrying about the craft. Start worrying about reading every book. Stop worrying about classes and courses and the next book and get, just write.

Go write and write and write. Because until you’ve written some stuff, you cannot tell how bad you are, how good you are, what needs fixed your change. You gotta have the experience of the writing for everything else to make sense and for sure. That’s my new advice. I keep telling. People who are have not written as long as I have.

How’s that?

Rachael: Yeah. Yeah. And I think reading a lot is really important too. I think the more you read, the better

Stephen: you get. Yes. What I’m finding is, as I’ve written more, as I’ve learned more about writing, as I’m reading, I’m picking up on good sentences and better sentences. And all that. So I’m learning just by the reading.

Rachael: Yeah. Yeah. Uhoh, there’s so much to know.

Stephen: Yes. Yeah. Okay. So it says you’re offline. You can still see me, right? ? Oh yeah, I can still see you. All right. Everything’s okay. So it should be okay. I love Zencaster cuz it records locally, so as long as we can still see and hear each other, it’ll upload a file. We should be okay.

Rachael: Okay, cool. I’m new to it. I’ve never used it, but I trust you. Yeah.

Stephen: All right. So speaking of the software in that, do you have any special software you like to use?

Rachael: I still write in pages, which I think is an outside program, . It’s just an Apple program.

Stephen: Okay. Any other, any special services you like to use for any part of it?

Marketing or anything?

Rachael: This time I hired a publicist, so she’s taking that over and I’m learning as I go to that Kindle Unlimited that you just told me about is totally news. Yeah, nothing comes to mind.

Stephen: Okay. No, no problem. And so you got a publicist, so you basically handed over the marketing for the most part.

Is there anything special you’re doing besides podcasts?

Rachael: I’m, she’s telling me what to do and then I’m implementing it. So there’s a lot of social media stuff and I’m gonna actually like, Walk into bookstores like I did with my last one and be like, Hey, here’s a sample of my book.

If you wanna order it, this is how you get it. I’m gonna do boots on the ground, kind of marketing .

Stephen: Okay. Did you do that with the first one?

Rachael: I did, yeah. Yeah. And then, like I said, it was 10 years ago, so it was a lot different. I think it’s a lot easier to self-publish now.

Stephen: Okay. When you did walk into bookstores, did you get a lot of good responses or was it a tough I did

Rachael: actually, yeah.

Yeah, I was in LA and there’s a lot of artists there, so it was, I’m pretty, they were pretty receptive. Nobody took a lot of books. Like people would be like, yeah, we’ll take one, copy , and we’ll, so I didn’t really make any money, but I was so excited to have it out there that I was thrilled nonetheless.

Stephen: Okay. Good. Let’s talk a bit about how things have changed and your first book, you wrote that you said about 10 years, around 2013. And I started writing a couple years after that. And even I’ve seen lots of changes. So what are some of the changes you’ve seen that you’re dealing with now compared to the first book?

Besides, like you said, the marketing boots on the ground and Yeah. Publicist. What are changes have you seen?

Rachael: First and foremost, social media, obviously that. If it did exist, then it was just barely. And I didn’t know enough about it to utilize. And also this Ingram Spark platform. Last time I just published with create Space, which was under the Amazon umbrella.

I, that probably doesn’t exist anymore.

Stephen: Pre, pre Kindle. Yeah. Yeah. Cdp. Yeah.

Rachael: and you could call them on the phone and they would help you, like they’d pick up, but you got an actual person there’d help you with anything. I went into the Apple store to have them help me format it like it was like early days.

And now With Ingram Spark, it’s available in the catalog, the same catalog that every, that Penguin and Random House and everybody else is in. So anybody can order your book just the same as they would from anyone else. So that’s exciting.

Stephen: Yes and I think on Amazon yeah, you gotta compete against everybody.

With so many books appearing from the publishing houses and from independents, and people don’t know, they don’t notice, so they really do look at, oh, that sounds interesting. Oh, that looks like a good cover. And, oh, 300 other people have read it and left reviews, and whether it’s independent or not. Of course there’s always, oh, that’s Patterson.

I know that one. Oh, that’s Stephen King. I know that one. right. Yeah. But there’s always new authors, so I think it’s in that way, it’s a good thing in helping.

Rachael: It’s like you said, it’s great and it’s overwhelming. It’s if I were to be the buyer of a book, I’m probably, leaning towards something that I’ve heard of or something that’s got like the best seller sticker on it, which.

But not everyone’s like that. Fortunately, , they are gonna look at covers and I find that people that aren’t writers, they don’t even think about self-publishing versus a traditional publisher. So that’s

Stephen: nice. Yeah and I think it’s less so now. I think maybe when independent publishing 10, 12 years ago was really starting to come out, that it was a little different.

You’re on the, your first book came out right on the big cusp when Kindle first started. So everybody was giving away free books. I remember my first Kindle. I’m like, oh my gosh, look at all the free books. Yeah, but it’s cuz they wanted you to read more. So what ended up happening for me is, oh look, I’ve got 3000 books on my Kindle that I’m never going to read.

Rachael: Yeah. Oh my God. Getting people to actually read now, like even, friends. It’s like squeezing blood from a stone sometimes.

Stephen: Yes, I agree. It’s interesting cuz I do a workshop working with kids to help teach storytelling in video games oh, fun. That’s, using that in a different way because it’s a job.

They could do a job that’s out there. It’s so new nobody really knows about it yet.

Rachael: Yeah. You could teach me that actually. There are a lot of jobs out there for that.

Stephen: Yeah, it’s gr it’s getting bigger and it’s another one you can, do with your, it’s different storytelling. It’s different way of doing it.

You don’t have the same structure and you don’t get to make all the choices, so you have to make sure it structures around the game and the player choices. Right. It’s just totally different. It’s interesting and fun. So we were mentioning also on some of the things our craft has improved or gotten better.

That’s another thing I’ve seen change is all the software that’s out there that will go through and do some editing on your, okay. Stuff. Do you use any of that?

Rachael: No, I don’t. I’ve, I work as a copywriter and have. Taught writing and all of that as well. So I feel pretty good about doing it myself, but Okay.

What sort of things does it do? Obviously catches spelling and grammar, but,

Stephen: I use pro writing aid because I liked all the things that checked and all that, but, It will, like we mentioned using just, or that it has an over overused words thing, so you hit it and it’ll say the average book for middle grade kids uses this many, that in a chapter, you used this many, so try and reduce it.

Oh Try and cut out the was mm. try and cut out. And it will check overused words. It’ll check the sos. Are you, is there a better word you could use to change? Oh, that’s cool. Sentence. It picks up passive voice. It checks sticky sentences. Like you use too many sticky words here, and it’s making it cumbersome.

Can you rewrite it? Interesting. It doesn’t, it gives you suggestions. , it doesn’t always. Fix it the way it should be or the way you want. So that’s why I’ve learned a lot is I purposefully put these words like this cuz of whatever reason. Yeah. So it picks up on it, but it’s not what I want and I skip it.

Go to the next one. Yeah. Oh. Hey, you’re right. I did start four sentences with he, he did this and he said that, it’s let me change that. And it does help out a whole lot. Making the writing sound better. . But. I don’t even know if any of it integrates with pages. I think you’re only like out of a hundred and some people, I think you’re only the second or third person that said pages is what they use for writing.

Rachael: It’s like from just using a typewriter. .

Stephen: Exactly. Yeah. I have had some people still doing it longhand. So I do get that. Yeah, they win . don’t do it. I just talk to other people that do it. .

Rachael: Yeah. No, I just like it cuz it’s familiar. Like when I write, I’m like in a flow state, I’m not like stopping to think about I just get it out and then I go back and edit and pages.

What I’ve used for so long that I don’t wanna learn something new and

Stephen: what do you do to format it? And you have somebody you, you hired to do the formatting to get the money.

Rachael: I went on fiver this time and just had a typography person do it. And they do it for so cheap, like it was like 25 bucks or something,

Stephen: right?

Yeah. Yeah. Five is another one. I. Talk to some people about you gotta be careful. That’s something else You wanna talk about differences? I don’t think fiber really existed or was that big. Oh, it definitely didn’t. No. No. And when it first started, it was, Look down upon more, it’s, it was, oh, you can’t get a good person working there.

It’s cheap, blah, blah, blah. Now you got people with whole careers earning money on fire. Yeah. So it’s

Rachael: so much of everything,

Stephen: it’s, there’s. But it’s good too for the buyer because here’s my price range. , I can try and find the best person I can and yeah, you can try out people, here’s here 25 bucks a person.

Let me try you out. Okay. You’re the one I’m gonna go with. So that’s, you’re right. That’s a benefit.

Rachael: I did try to use them for cover design as well, and I, that didn’t work out at all. I had to find someone. Actually that I worked with that I should have just done that to begin with, but for something easy like typography, that,

Stephen: that worked.

Got it. Okay. I actually, I’m a PC person, I’m a programmer. Oh, okay. So PC’s just always been my tool, but I bought a Mac Mini with Velum just to do the formatting of my books. Okay.

Rachael: Velum is a, see I’m learning so much. I’m .

Stephen: Velu is formatting books. Yes, vem is, it’s one of the older players in the market, but they’ve, kept up and improved.

And a lot of independent authors use velum for formatting because you can import your word file, or I’m sure pages export in some format that it’ll accept. Yeah. It might do pages just because it’s on Mac. Come to think. , I’m not sure, but you import it and you basically I want it to be, five by eight or six by nine size or whatever size you want.

And you can choose a couple different styles and then it just formats it all in there. And there’s

Rachael: something on my computer that does that too. I don’t know what the name of it is, but I have that too. And the, and there’s, if you, there’s different styles of if you wanna do like a graphic novel, little format for that.

I do have that. Okay.

Stephen: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Great. Yeah. Good. Okay. Before we get done here, can you think of anything else you wanted to bring up that, oh, I’ve noticed this has changed in the last 10 years, or, this is different than when I did the first one.

Rachael: People probably read less, I think again, because of social media.

Stephen: Unfortunately,

Rachael: yeah. I’m hoping that the pendulum is gonna swing the other way and, eventually we’ll just wanna get back to the basics, but Right. Yeah.

Stephen: Let me ask you, I was think about this, you mentioned you were in tv. Have you ever thought of writing TV episodes or scripts or anything like that?

Oh, that’s what I was doing. Oh, okay. Yeah. So did you write anything that we would know? Nothing

Rachael: that I’m proud of.

We need to brag about. I did option my first screenplay this past year, so hopefully that’s going to be being made in the near future. Nice. That’s the feature film. Yeah. So that’s exciting. Beautiful. I went film that for writing, so that also helped me become a better writer across the board, I think.

Stephen: Cool. I’ll look for Rachel Bigs. Oh, hey, I know that person. Yeah.

Rachael: again. It’ll be all over my social media. You don’t have to worry about looking for anything .

Stephen: Everybody look at this. Yeah, I’d be like that too. I’d any money I’d make off of the script for a screenwriting I’d spend to rent outta theater.

Invite everybody I knew. . Yeah.

Rachael: That’s all right. I think that, Sorry, go ahead.

Stephen: No. Please

Rachael: finish. Oh I think that the arts be it music or painting or writing is a calling and a purpose that sort of, you just have to get it out there. And whether it makes money or not, it’s awesome if it makes money, but you’ve done your job if you get it out there.

In reference to renting a theater and having everybody come and see it. That’s, you’re doing what you came to

Stephen: do. That’s, rachel, before we go do you have any last minute advice that you would give to new authors?

Rachael: Go deeper. I think if you are writing something and it’s.

Resonating with people, or you are smart enough to know that it’s not very good. Go deeper. If you’re describing a wall, tell me every single thing about that wall. Keep talking about it. Like one of the exercises that I would have when I’m teaching writing is I haven’t done that for a long time, but describe brushing your.

And it has to be like three pages and go into every detail. That’s so boring because in that you can edit something that’s actually interesting, you’re gonna find something that’s you wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Stephen: It, it pushes you and you have to think about it in different ways. I, yeah I do a similar thing where I will take mostly Stephen King, just cuz I enjoy reading Stephen King, but I’ll just find a couple random paragraphs.

And then I’ll force myself to rewrite it in different ways, in different styles or different fields or, making it very like lead child where it’s very short, succinct sentences and Right. Cut out a lot of the detail or then make it more like something from the Victorian area where it’s very flashy and flourishy and for me that, push yourself.

Try different things. Do different things, and it’s easier with other people’s stuff than your own. So rewriting it like that is a lot easier for me.

Rachael: evokes such different feelings, right? When you read like a short sentence versus a long flowery one, like you’re gonna feel a totally different way as a reader yeah. People Absolut absolutely

Stephen: to manipul. Yeah. Great. All right. Rachel, I wish you luck on your book coming out or the pre-orders right before Christmas and coming out the first, so we’ll get this up. I’ll let you know and I hope things go well for you. Thank you

Rachael: so much. It was great to meet you.

Stephen: It was great to talk to you.

Thank you. Yeah. Okay.