Episode # 74 – Rachael Herron on Why Your First Draft Should Suck!

In Uncategorized by Julius S7 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.

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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

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Julius SEpisode # 74 – Rachael Herron on Why Your First Draft Should Suck!
  • This is my favorite interview of all!
    I plot loosely and have to get the beginning right before I can move on. I tried NaNo this year and met some nice people but found I go faster on my own.
    She covers all the great bases. I’m also glad the gold rush is over. It made learning to market like an obstacle course and built up all these ridiculous expectations based on running a race instead of writing good books.
    I hope lots of people listen to this interview!

    • SimonRSP

      Wow, thanks Alyne, this one was a lot of fun to do! This one has had a great start, already lots of listeners!

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  • Wow, such a great interview with wonderful honesty which really gives those of us about to enter into the indie world real hope. Sometimes a little envy passes through you when traditional seem out of your grasp but after listening here, it doesn’t feel as bad (o:

    • SimonRSP

      Glad you enjoyed it David! Yeah, when the best deal is not a great deal, I can see why that envy might lessen! 🙂

  • Patrick Stemp

    Seriously great episode. I’m wrapping up NaNo tonight and caught this a few weeks late but just when I needed to hear it as I try to continue the momentum into December and beyond. Fantastic interview – one of the best I’ve heard in a while. I’m definitely going to check out the Udemy course.

    • SimonRSP

      Awesome, carry that momentum through! Really good to hear that you enjoyed the interview 🙂