Everybody has 24 Hours a Day – An Interview with Full-Time Author Logan Rutherford

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In June of 2015 Logan was able to leave his job in the marketing department of a local company to pursue his passion of telling stories by becoming a full-time author. He later moved to Los Angeles, California after leaving his small hometown in Texas. Now he plans to publish his sixth and seventh novels by summertime to round out “The First Superhero” series and “The Mortis Desolation” series, respectively – just a few months after turning 21 years old.

Join Logan and me as we discuss:

  • How he handles writer’s block.
  • Landing an agent without writing a single query letter.
  • Why he outsources his audio books.
  • His personal struggle when he first started pursuing his full-time author career.
  • The point where he realized he could live off of his writing full-time.
  • How he got back on track after hitting a writing slump.
  • Why he doesn’t write at home.
  • What keeps him from procrastinating.

What’s your favorite part about being a full-time author?

It’s definitely the freedom that it allows. Especially watching other people my age that struggle with their things. They’re always talking about school or work and all these things. Then I feel it’s pretty awesome what I get to do. Every day feels like a day off from a day job that I get to spend writing instead. Then I realize that this is my job.  Yesterday I was having some writer’s block, and I really wanted to drive my car since I just got it in January. In Los Angeles there’s not that many places to drive. Many places you go are stop-and-go traffic, and you’ll max out at around five miles an hour. I just really wanted to drive somewhere in my car and work through this writer’s block. So I drove up to Malibu, and I hung out on the beach for awhile. Then I was able to write down some things, figured it out, and I then I went home. That was crazy to me. No one else that I know can really do that; only if you’re a writer.

How are you currently generating revenue?

Mostly ebooks. I don’t even have paperbacks out right now. I did a few months ago, but I took them down to get them re-formatted. I haven’t put them back up yet because it’s one of those 80/20 things. It’s going to take a lot of time, but it’s not that helpful. Once I get my next book out I’ll sit down and get everything else out in paperback. Right now it’s mainly ebooks.

I’m not really sure about the percentage, but I do have audio books out. That’s through Tantor Media. They’re a publisher, and they handle all my audio books. I only see sales reports from them twice a year. From what I can tell in the rankings and what I saw earlier in the year it’s about 10-15% of my income. It’s one of those things that I wasn’t going to do on my own. It’s been a very passive thing. I just focus on marketing my ebooks. The publisher does a great job with it – way better than I could have done on my own.

So that makes me curious. Did you reach out to them or did they find you?

I actually had an agent reach out to me. She handles all my rights besides the ebooks. All the ebook stuff I do myself. She reached out to Tantor Media and got a deal with them. She also has some of my other rights like movies that she shops around for. As far as the ebooks go – that’s all me. She takes care of the other stuff that is more difficult to take care of on your own. It was in July when she reached out to me, and I signed on with her in August.

This is really cool. She reached out to you. You didn’t have a query letter, and you weren’t actively pursuing agents.

Oh yea, I wasn’t looking for agents at all. It wasn’t even a thought. I figured I would do everything since I was already doing so well on my own. She contacted me out of the blue and said, “I really liked your books! Would you consider doing something with us?” After a few correspondences I signed on. She does a really good job and works really hard. That Tantor deal she got for me was great because they do a lot of really well known books. The narrator they have has done books for Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, and George RR Martin. And he’s doing my book! I can’t even believe it. That’s definitely something I would have struggled to do on my own.

I’ve met a lot of prospective authors that try to pursue the traditional route right out of the gate. They’re all about, “I have to get these query letters out, and I have to find the right agent!” Meanwhile they aren’t even really paying attention to their books. They have to do all this other stuff instead.

There are some author friends of mine that are trying to go the more traditional route. They sit there and read all these blog posts on how to write a query letter and do all this other stuff. I just feel so bad. I didn’t have to do any of that. If you just focus on writing a good book, getting it out there, and marketing it then they will come to you.

Tell us a story when things weren’t going so well for you. Can you share with us the worst moment as an author or as you were trying to become an author?

The hardest thing was on a more personal level when I was getting started. I was getting serious about becoming an author early last year. I actually dropped out of college and got a job to help fund my author career because I knew I had to have good covers and editing. A lot of my friends were like, “What are you doing? You’re insane! You’re not going to school. You’re doing all this just to write?” It was hard to hear people that I had known for years to basically tell me that this was stupid. I remember hearing all those people being so negative around me. It made me second-guess everything. I thought, “Am I really going to give up my friends for this dream I have?” Then I realized, “Well, if my friends are making me choose between them or my dream then they aren’t really my friends.” At the time I was 19. As a millennial we crave our peers and their recognition. Going through that for a few months was really tough. I basically told myself, “I really have to do this now because I just cut off a bunch of my friends. No turning back now!” That was really hard to get through, but it obviously paid off really well. I think it was a good decision both business wise and personally.

Yea, I’d say so! You’re pursuing your passion.

Exactly – it’s something you really have to pay attention to. I had friends that weren’t supportive of me, and I knew I was doing the right thing. It felt so right. Once I got through that it felt awesome.

Now you get to cruise to Malibu for the day while they’re stuck at a desk job.

There’s a little part of me that each time I post something on Facebook I think, “Look at me now. You said I couldn’t do this!”

So what’s your biggest take away from that story?

My biggest takeaway is to be confident in my writing and my decisions. It doesn’t matter what other people say as they try to bring you down or tell you that you can’t write for a living. I’m going to do this. I can do this. Another takeaway is not wasting time with fake friends and fake people.

Tell us a bit more about what happened after you dropped out of college. Did you have a plan?

It was funny because in English class I wasn’t even paying attention. I was outlining my books instead. So I dropped out and got a job in the marketing department of a local company. I was still living at home with my parents in Texas at the time so I was saving all my money to help pay for covers and editing. I had a year-long plan, but that got messed up when the book came out. It started doing well right out of the gate. It was a good re-shuffling of plans. It was bad but good. My plan originally was to get at least three or four books out before I started pushing anything. I wanted to have more than one series going on. I’ve been watching everything on business for about six years now. I saw so many times that when a series gets published it does really well, but then the readership wants to move on to the next series. That’s the thing that terrifies me the most is having a one-hit wonder and having my readers say, “Oh, this series is great but nothing else.” I planned to have at least two series out, and then I would market both of them. As one series is wrapping up then the next one can do well, and I wouldn’t need to worry about having one series that’s a one-hit wonder. So I really wanted to have two series that I could push and market, which would have been about a year to two years before going full-time.

At what point did you realize that you could do this full-time?

Leading up to the release of “The Second Super” in May of 2015 I remember telling my mom, “It would be awesome if by the end of the summer I could have enough money to pay my car payment just with my writing.” At the time I had just bought my brother’s car off of him. It was around $300 a month. One morning I woke up after “The Second Super” came out, and by the time I woke up I had already made enough to make my car payment that day. Right then I realized, “This isn’t some fluke. People are really reading this. I really need to go full-time to focus on the next book.”

When were you able to leave the marketing job?

At around the end of June of 2015 was when I left. I wanted to quit right away, but I had a couple of projects to wrap up. Then I could put in my two week notice. I didn’t want to be like, “See ya!” I knew that definitely wasn’t the right thing to do. It also didn’t help that I lived in a small town in Texas with about 3,500 people. If you burn a bridge there then there’s no coming back. Small towns are crazy. It was a very long month and a half until I left. When I did it felt really good especially because my main focus was to fund my writing. It felt great to be able to quit after funding my writing. Now my writing is funding my writing.

If you could do it all over again is there anything you would do differently?

I think I would take my time a little bit more in the writing process and planning out the release. Maybe working a little bit harder on the book and possibly writing another draft. But that was one of the magical things about the book is that I wrote it so fast, and I had so much fun writing it. I think that really translated into the book and how much fun it is to read – at least that’s what the book reviews have told me. Either way I would go through additional editing phases for myself and additional editors going through the book to proofread it. At the time I had someone do a copy edit and proofread it, but it wasn’t the best job. Since then I’ve had another copy edit and three proofreads. That’s the process I do every time now. My main editor copy edits and proofreads and then I have two more proofreaders go through it. They just go through with a fine-tooth comb. I think I caught that really early on that it needed another pass by an editor. Unfortunately you really can’t go back and re-write a book once it’s out there. But like I said, I’m very proud of the book, and lots of people like it. It’s really just a nitpicky thing that I would do if I had to do it all over again.

Have you ever been in a writing slump? What did you do to get back on the saddle?

It was around the fall/winter of last year. In August I took a weeklong trip to Australia, and that was really the start of it all. Once I got back I moved to Los Angeles. That was a whole ordeal in itself. I moved across the country for the first time ever. As soon as I was getting adjusted to the city one of my sisters that lives back in Texas was having her baby. The doctors told me, “If you want to be here then you have to get here right now.” So I dropped everything and flew back to Texas. I got there, and it ended up being three weeks until he was born. It was three weeks of agonizing waiting because it could happen anytime. When I got back to Los Angeles I had to go right back to Texas for Thanksgiving. Then I had everyone come here for Christmas and New Years. The end of last year was very busy for me personally. That really hurt my writing a lot. One of the things that really helped me get back into it was working on smaller projects. I would write a short story here and there to get that feeling of completion. I wrote a 26,000 word novella called “Richter” that takes place in my “The First Superhero” series that I published at the end of last month. That got me back into the world where I was ready to write the next book in the series. It had been so long since I was in that world, and that got me back into it. Now I’m doing 5,000 words a day, and I’m right back at it. So don’t try to jump into something huge. Just try short stories here and there. Maybe write something in that world to get into that mindset so you can hit it really hard when you get back to the actual book.

Some people watch movies or read books for creative inspiration. Where do you go for your ideas? What’s your muse?

Definitely books, but I’m huge into movies. The thing that really got me started in writing was filmmaking and acting. It was one of those things where I wanted to make movies when I was younger, but, like I said, I grew up in a small town of 3,500 people in the middle of Texas. So there weren’t a whole lot of opportunities there. If they had made a selfie stick back then I would’ve definitely made the first selfie stick movie. So I turned to writing. It was really story telling that was the main thing I wanted to do. If I stopped writing and didn’t make movies I would be a history teacher in school because I love working with kids. Teaching history is like a form of storytelling – telling these stories that happened in the past. So it’s really books, movies, and TV. I also enjoy playing video games. Really any form of storytelling is what helps me creatively.

What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success as an author?

It’s definitely getting out of my apartment to write. I have an office in downtown Los Angeles that I go to for my writing. Even though I don’t like working a normal day job I still like the process of getting up and getting ready to go somewhere. Having that place outside of home where I know that when I’m there I’m there to write, and I’m there to work. This is where work gets done. Even before I had an office it was having that set place, like a desk, that area of the house, or spot on the couch. It’s about having that spot where you know you’re there to work and having that work mindset. That has helped me a lot.

So you have your own office? Is that something you rent on a monthly basis?

Yea, it’s something that’s set up through this company called WeWork. It’s a co-working place. They have a few locations in Los Angeles. They just opened up a new location in one of the downtown skyscrapers (Gas Company Tower). I got a little, one person office there on the 34th floor that I go to everyday besides the weekends. It’s all glass so I pretty much have my own window. It’s pretty neat.

What are you most excited about right now?

I’m most excited about this book that I’ve been working on in my head since the end of last year. I even had an illustrator design the cover for me. It’s one of those books where I can’t wait to start writing it. I want to write it so bad, but I know I have to finish my other books that people are going to buy so I can pay my rent first. I plan to start writing it this summer. When I’m done with my next book in “The First Super” series then I have one more book in my “The Mortis Desolation” series that I have to write. Then I get to work on it! It’s like my reward for writing all these other books that are so much fun, and I love writing them, but this one has been in my mind for months. I just can’t wait to sit down and actually get it out.

Is it going to be another super hero book?

No, it’s kind of a fantasy but not really. It’s really hard to explain. It’s one of those books where I don’t really know how marketable it is, but I can’t wait to write it. It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s kind of urban fantasy-ish. Here’s a snap shot of the cover. It’s called “Islands of Purgatory” and was illustrated by Jeff Brown.

Islands_PSDver_2

What advice do you have for those of us trying to become full-time authors?

It’s kind of what I was saying before. You really need to have a place to write that is your place. It’s a place that once you’re there you’re only going to write. No Netflix or YouTube or anything like that. You really need to have that place where you can just sit down and feel comfortable so you can write. I feel like that’s really important because if you have an idea then you can sit on it until you get back to your spot. All that time the excitement can build and build then once you hit the keyboard you can just explode onto Scrivener.

What’s the best way that we can reach you?

My website: AuthorLoganRutherford.com. I also post on Facebook: Facebook.com/Loganwrites. I do post on Twitter a lot, but it has nothing to do with my writing. It’s basically just a bunch of dumb jokes and pulp culture references. That’s at Twitter.com/LoganRutherford. Those are the main places where you can find me.

Let’s end on a positive note. Can you share with us one of your favorite success quotes and what it means to you?

There’s one that I love, but I couldn’t find the original source. It goes: “Everybody has 24 hours in a day.” It gives us all something in common with the greatest people of our time. That really means a lot to me because it reminds me to not waste one day. Don’t squander away something that you know is going to be good. That really helps me when I’m procrastinating or I don’t feel like working. We all have the same amount of hours in a day. I can be like anyone out there if I just use those hours to work on something and get it done.

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If you’d like to scratch that superhero itch or get immersed into a world of zombie slaying then go check out Logan’s series here.

If you enjoyed the interview then please let me know! Email me at Brandon@buildyourauthorcareer.com or leave a comment below. I read every email and comment.

Feel free to check out my previous interviews with other inspiring authors:

Wayne Stinnett

Todd Ellery Hodges

Rich Amooi

Tammi Labrecque

Chris Fox

To your consistent progress,

-Brandon

 

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