Episode # 104 – Rachael Herron on Why Your First Draft Should Suck! [REBROADCAST]

In Uncategorized by Simon Whistler4 Comments

rachaelnewMy guest today, Rachael Herron, started in the traditional world, having big publishers fighting over the rights to her books. It was the deal that every author aspiring for a traditional contract hopes for, and it was for a book she wrote during NaNoWriMo. We talk about how that came about, and why she decided to head into the self-publishing world. In the second half we really get into the issue of dealing with blocks, and getting the words on the page. Show notes at: rspcast.com/Rachael.


Pack up the Moon

Amazon Profile



How to Stop Stalling and Write Your Book – Rachael’s excellent Udemy course (listen to the interview, you’ll see Rachael has a huge amount of experience to teach this stuff). Apps, time management, and a 50% discount for RSP listeners!

Rachael’s blog – She started it in 2002.

NaNoWriMo – How Rachael got her start in writing.

Lila Ashe – Her self-published romance pen name.

Rachael’s knitting memoire

2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron

Rachael’s post on how to revise your novel

House of Cards – Excellent Netflix TV show (yes, we got a bit off topic).

Show notes:

Hybrid Author

Rachael is a true hybrid author with a history in traditional publishing. She also has an MFA which she says “scarred her” as she was too focused on writing a great American novel, rather than something that would actually be fun.


Rachael thought that this was something that no serious writer would ever do – you can write a literary masterpiece in 30 days. After her initial skepticism of the day she embraced it, and got a book done that was eventually sold at auction to a big publisher. She credits the month with getting her unstuck. For seven years after her MFA she found herself simply unable to finish the book.

The book that she wrote in those 30 days was put away until the following year until she heard about a traditional contest, where she ended up in the top three. After some revision to the book, she started looking for an agent, four months later she had one and the book was soon sold. That was in 2008.

Since then she has written two books a year for the big traditional publishers. She currently has 8 books on the market, but admits that even with her huge deals and putting out quite a lot of books, she still does not make that much money from her traditional deals.

Her first deal paid out $110k, but when that is all broken down it doesn’t work out as that much. In the end after a fee for her agent, tax to the government, she had about $45k left, which was split over three years, so really she made $15k a year. Not close to enough to live on, let alone retire on. And this was the best possible deal, having big publishers fight over her books at auction.

Her first book went very well, but then Borders collapsed just as her second book was coming out. When the third book was ready to go out, she didn’t have the sales numbers for the second book to justify the third book. However things were going very well in New Zealand and Australia, and she got deals in those countries. In the US she only got offered a digital deal for the rest of the books in the series and decided that she could do better herself, so decided to self publish them. I asked Rachael a question that is often talked about in the self-pub world “can a reader tell or know that they are self-published?” “No they can’t.”

The rest of the books in the series were edited by a publisher in Australia, and they just let her take the books over to the US and self-publish them.

Moving to Self-Pub

When Rachael was just writing traditionally published books, she made a pact with several writer friends that they would not self-publish. That took a while to fall apart but they eventually realized that was not the way to go, and all decided to start new pen names and start putting out a lot of books quickly to see how things went.

Rachael hires an editor for her books, but designs her covers herself!


Knitting romance is Rachael’s niche, and so she does well with audiobooks because the knitters are always using their hands.

Day Job                                                            

Despite all her success with traditional and self-publishing she still works a day job. She works in a firehouse, answering emergency calls, but most of the time it is quiet so she is able to get on with the writing side of her life. Rachael say’s that she can’t do first drafts (too many distractions) she can revise and make tweaks to what she has already written. The shift schedule also means that she has days off at a time, which are perfect for getting the draft written.

Udemy Course

Because Rachael isn’t busy enough, she has put together a Udemy course on how to “stop stalling and write your book.” The book focuses on how you can get the book done, by focusing on how to remember what you are passionate, and being okay with the fact that the first draft is going to suck. That’s okay, the good stuff happens in the revision. This is a great course, and you can get 50% off by going through this link: https://www.udemy.com/how-to-stop-stalling-and-write-your-book/?couponCode=RSP


Leave a comment below or get in touch with Simon by email at simon@rockingselfpublishing.com

Listening Options:


RSS Feed

Right click here for a direct MP3 download

Simon WhistlerEpisode # 104 – Rachael Herron on Why Your First Draft Should Suck! [REBROADCAST]
  • mtr amg

    I see why this one is downloaded a lot – bursting with great info and a not-so-secret obsession with house of cards… hmmm Simon?
    I will totally do Rachael’s Udemy course. That is my problem in a nutshell. I wrote 80k words in the month for camp nanowrimo and have done nothing with them since. I finish my fanfics and stop at the 80-90% mark for my original work… no idea why i see them as different. sigh
    I knit and watch TV but audio books would be perfect!
    thanks Rachael and Simon!

    • SimonRSP

      Have you considered a accountability partner or finding a mentor? Someone to give you a kick when you hit that 90% mark, or are not doing anything with a manuscript. This sort of person (or group of people) has been absolutely vital to my getting anything done.

      • mtr amg

        I’d love a creative partnership (like the sterling & stone boys) or something like that. I have tried to find one and nearly had it this year but I just didn’t have the attention of the other person, and my instincts screamed at me to step back. I work much better with an external date-setter; even something like nanowrimo makes me write more. Go figure… because that is arbitrary and basically set by ME but it tricks me into working.

        • SimonRSP

          I agree that the creative partnership model can be a good one, but boy, is it a big commitment. I think just having someone who you work closely with (but who you are not financially involved with) can be a huge motivator, and help set those arbitrary and external goals 😉