Writing Questions

Everywhere! I find media that sticks with me–TV shows I adored, books I can’t put down, video games that give me goosebumps–and I look analytically at the content. What did the creator do to make me feel those things? Can I copy that technique in my own writing?

Ask it enough, and you’ll find common threads that stand out to you. Character types you adore, tropes you can’t watch enough. Start incorporating them into possible plot ideas, and you’ll be amazed at how a book starts taking shape!

Authors record book length by word count. (We’d use page count, but it’s inconsistent as shit due to the different styles of book formatting.) With that in mind, here are the word counts for my current novels:

  • CAN’T SPELL TREASON WITHOUT TEA: 97,000 words (indie version was 86,000)
  • A PIRATE’S LIFE FOR TEA: 114,000 words (indie version was 88,000)
  • THIS GILDED ABYSS: 92,000 words
  • THE DAY DEATH STOPPED: 91,000 words

Please note that word count varies wildly by genre. Cozy fantasy books seem to trend shorter, but I add a lot in edits, which is why mine grew so much once Tor got involved. I usually aim for 75k words in a first draft for a cozy, and maybe 90k for other genres.

If you need more help finding an appropriate range for your books, visit this site and take a peek for your genre! But please remember that everything here is subjective–a truly amazing book can break just about any “rule.”

A note: if you’re hoping to traditionally publish your novel, remember that agents are looking for reasons to say “no.” Try not to give them one here. 😉 Indie books are definitely more flexible with these ranges.

Everything. Anything. I love hopping genres, so I won’t be limiting myself to one. It depends on the story I’m trying to tell and the setting that’ll be best to tell it. You can almost always expect the following, however:

  • Magic in some form
  • Dragons, if I can get away with it
  • A compelling love story (usually sapphic, but not always)
  • Deep, meaningful friendships
  • Hurt/comfort in some capacity
  • Whump, nearly always
  • An action-packed writing style
  • Witty dialogue

Otherwise, it’s a gamble. I’m aware that my stories won’t appeal to everyone, so please read the content warnings carefully! If you’re worried about being triggered, I recommend my cozy fantasies. They’ll be a safe haven in a storm of chaos. 😛

Depends on how the book was published. My cozy fantasies can be purchased anywhere; I earn the same royalty rate regardless, so I highly recommend you support your local bookstores!

My indie books are another matter. Sadly, the best place to buy these books is Amazon; I make the most per novel off their royalty rate. However, since Amazon is evil and we all know it, I will never fault someone for consuming my books elsewhere.

Please shop local where you can! I offer great discounts for bookstores and libraries, so any indie store can order my novels via Ingram Spark.

Bookshop.org is also a great option, even though the majority of the profit there goes to indie stores instead of me. I still recommend it, since a lot of indie bookstores rely on their yearly bonuses!

No. I believe anyone should be able to enjoy my books, regardless of income level, country of origin, or ability to pay.

There are dozens of reasons people pirate books. Some people live in a country that bans LGBTQIA+ media. Some libraries cost yearly fees to join. In my opinion, the only way piracy is a black-and-white issue is when people fail to acknowledge the struggles of others.

If you have to pirate my novels, there is no way I can stop you. All I ask is that you leave a review in return. Tell your friends and family. If they have the means, maybe direct them to my Amazon page.

The world is a big place, and I’m an advocate of compassion and understanding. If you have the ability, I’ll appreciate any monetary support. If you don’t, you still deserve to read good books. How you secure them is up to you.

Publishing Questions

Traditional publishing (trad pub, or just “trad”) is the process of securing a literary agent in order to go “on submission” with publishers. The Big 5 publishers in NYC won’t accept unsolicited submissions; in order to be traditionally published, you need a literary agent to submit your novels to editors at those presses. It’s a long, complicated process, but has the added benefits of expansive distribution and a full team that makes your novel amazing.

Self-publishing, or “indie”, is done by you, the author. It involves commissioning or creating your own cover, editing your book, formatting it for publication, and uploading it to self-distribution sites like Amazon, Ingram Spark, Campfire, Draft 2 Digital, and many others. In indie, no one is reviewing your novel for quality–but that does NOT mean these novels aren’t incredible. It just means they were created and published by the author, without a professional team behind them.

Traditional authors often sacrifice creative freedom for expanded distribution and clout. Meanwhile, indie authors get paid faster and can pivot quickly, but getting books into stores is trickier. Both have benefits and downsides!

I’m both! I’m what we call a “hybrid” author: someone who bounces between the two.

I started querying in 2015, signed with a literary agent in 2018, and we sold a middle grade book to a mid-sized publisher. That novel was released in 2021. (I’ve since gotten the rights back to that novel after it technically went “out of print” due to low sales.)

In 2022, I separated from that agent and went indie with my cozy fantasy, CAN’T SPELL TREASON WITHOUT TEA and its sequel, A PIRATE’S LIFE FOR TEA. After record sales, the Tomes & Tea quartet was purchased by Tor UK and Bramble (Tor US) in mid-2023 for republication.

Now I firmly straddle the line between both publishing paths. I have a literary agent who works on foreign rights deals (selling my book to publishers abroad), and I self-publish otherwise.

This approach offers me the freedom to design my novels as I want, from cover to content, while exploring the distribution benefits of a traditional publisher. It’s tougher to navigate because there isn’t one “set path” for publication. I’m figuring things as I go, so stay tuned for updates!

That’s a great question, and the answer is, “it depends.”

If you’re more interested in a fast publication with little oversight and total freedom, indie is your best bet. You’ll get to decide everything. Everything. Granted, not everything will sell, so make sure you explore successful titles in your genre. See how they packaged their book, what platforms they distributed on, and how they market. Don’t forget that regardless of publication style, you’re writing for your reader. Audience is key.

If all that sounds intimidating or expensive, it’s because it is. And in that case, trad might be a better path for you. It takes time (I’m talking literal years), but it’s an incredible process. Research “querying,” which is the process of securing a literary agent. That’s step 1.

No matter which you choose, make sure you find your author community. It can be on Instagram, Discord, TikTok, Facebook, or somewhere else–but having author friends who understand the trials of publishing is essential.

Something else to note: a lot of authors pivot between the two. You can start in trad and decide it’s not for you, or visa versa. That’s why we have so many hybrid authors! Just keep writing and learning, and you’ll do great. <3

The obvious answer is “write more.”

New writers hate hearing that. Writing a book takes ages, and the idea that “more” is necessary is tough to swallow. Trust me, I understand. But none of this happens overnight.

Here is my publishing journey, broken down by full-length novel:


  • Novel 1 – 8 (2002 – 2013): Written for fun, no intent to publish
  • Novel 9 + 10 (2014 – 2016): Queried 100 agents each, NO requests
  • Novel 11 (2017): 8 full requests, all rejections. Won RevPit, several more full request, signed with that literary agent. Book died on submission after multiple rewrites.
  • Novel 12 (2018): Sold to a publisher (The Secrets of Star Whales, Jolly Fish Press) [out of print – rights returned to me in 2024]
  • Novel 13 (2019 – 2020): Book died on submission
  • Novel 14 (2022): Agent didn’t think she could sell it. I self-published it in late 2023 (The Day Death Stopped)
  • Novel 15 (2022): First self-published book –> (Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea)
  • Novel 16 (2023): Second self-published book (A Pirate’s Life for Tea)
  • –Tomes & Tea series sold to a major publisher here, after gaining TikTok popularity and demonstrating solid book sales–
  • Novel 17 (2023): Third self-published book (This Gilded Abyss)
  • Novel 18 (2023): Tea You at the Altar, sent directly to Tor for 2025 publication
  • Novel 19 (2023): Unnamed Book 4 of Tomes & Tea, sent directly to Tor for 2025 publication
  • Non-fiction Book 1 (2023): Fifth self-published writing craft book (The 5 Sentence Method)


The point is, if you think you’re ready to be published, and agents don’t agree… there’s a good chance your writing just isn’t there yet. The only solution is practice. Read every craft book you can. Talk to people in the industry. And write your next novel.

If this were easy or took less time, everyone would do it. I’m sorry your first book isn’t working out. Go write more. (Or, hey. Self-publish. Then no one can tell you no. 😛 )

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach

I followed Travis Baldree’s path almost identically. No joke. The only place I deviated is getting on TikTok, where he’s bigger on X. I’m very lucky that Travis was so forthcoming with his self-publishing journey, or I wouldn’t have had the courage to attempt it!

Here’s a write-up he did for Legends & Lattes, with step-by-step instructions.

Keep in mind that Travis Baldree had a large following as an audiobook narrator, and his book was picked up for a casual read by a very well-known author. All of that contributed to his rapid success. In my case, I was completely new to indie and started my TikTok from scratch in early 2022, but almost 8 years in traditional publishing gave me tons of resources to pull from.

Ah, numbers. My favorite. 😉 Here’s a breakdown of my initial costs for Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea.

  • $1000 – Cover Art (ALWAYS get commercial rights.)
  • $150 – Formatting Software (Atticus)
  • $275 – 10 ISBNs
  • $300 – Cover Typography + Promotional Art
  • $50 – Vinyl Stickers (for promotion)
  • $100 – Supplies for Book Boxes
  • $60 – Stamps
  • $50 – Mailing Supplies
  • $50 – Upload to Ingram Spark
  • $15 – Proof Copies from Amazon

Total: $2150

Keep in mind that several of those purchases were one-time things, or bought in bulk so I can keep using them into new releases. Future novels will be cheaper by default. However, I expect every novel I publish to cost me around $1500 regardless.

Another important thing to note is that I didn’t use a professional editor. I’ve worked with enough that I know where the weak spots in my writing are, and how to fix issues as they arise. This is a learned skill, and not something an author can inherently know about their own work! If you’re new to publishing, please factor in another $400 – $1500 for a good editor.

You can find updated editorial costs on the Editorial Freelance Association’s website. Keep in mind these are just estimates, and your actual cost may vary!

I know. Hence why self-publishing is a risk, and why many authors decide to pursue traditional publication instead. There are authors who don’t make back their original investment for years, and many need what’s called a “backlist” (multiple books published) before they enter the green.

I am a very unique case, and it had a lot to do with timing, luck, and my marketing ability. There is no right or wrong way to do this, and anyone copying me may not find this level of success.

If publishing were easy, everyone would do it. Are you going to let that stop you? 😉

Here’s an introductory video on the steps needed to self-publish your novel. It’s a 3 minute rundown of every step needed to self-publish.

If you’re looking for more in-depth information on each part, I created a TikTok playlist on every aspect of self-publishing. Check out the playlist here!

Don’t be intimidated by all there is to do–just take it one step at a time.

I pay attention to trends, and I’ve been in the industry long enough to see new ones coming. For cozy fantasy, it was a few things that happened all at once:

  1. I learned that Legends & Lattes was purchased by a Big 5 publisher for immediate republication. This solidified that “low stakes, high fantasy” had a seat at the trad table–and if it sold well, editors everywhere would be looking for their own versions of it.
  2. After the pandemic, I was craving something low stakes, high comfort. It made complete sense to me that I wouldn’t be the only one–and Legends & Latte‘s instant success only reinforced that. AKA: There was a huge, untapped audience.
  3. Tor had already proved they’d be willing to buy a self-published book if it sold well, so self-publishing this first was low risk, high reward. I’d make money instantly… and there was always the chance a Big 5 would pay attention if it sold well.

Something to remember, though, is that I’d spent ages in traditional publishing by this point. Those points above were literally common knowledge to me.

I also write VERY fast, and I’ve done enough books to write well, too. I was able to churn out a very solid book in about 6 weeks over the summer of 2022. I knew that timing mattered, and I strategically dropped my cozy fantasy several weeks before Legends & Latte‘s re-release. That gave it time to circulate before the masses got a hold of cozy fantasy… which meant it was on everyone’s tongue when people asked for “books like L&L.”

We’ve seen it over and over, after all. The first good books to the table are the ones recommended in the same breath as the genre creator.

Everything after that was luck. But I was very careful about setting rods in the right field!

Absolutely!! But with a caveat–many of these people are old friends of mine. They’re also excellent at their jobs, and would love to hear from you!


Cover Design / Interior Formatting

Cover Artists

Business Questions

If you have any business or publishing inquiries, please contact my literary agent, Taryn Fagerness, at her website. Taryn represents me in all literary deals, both domestic and foreign.

Possibly! While I love doing signings and events, it’s very expensive on my end. If a store is willing to reimburse for a plane ticket, possible hotel accommodations (depending on location, and whether or not I can fly there and back in a day), and a rental car, I would love to take the time and visit. Reach out and let’s chat!

But for most stores, that’s a lot, and I understand. I’m always happy to send signed bookplates to your store in lieu of a physical visit, or try to accommodate a virtual event.

Curious about where I’ll be signing books? Check out my “Events” page for upcoming book signings and tour information.


I’m an educator at heart. I have an MFA in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing, and graduate coursework in Rhetoric and Professional Writing. I offer special emphasis on weighing publishing paths–traditional vs indie–and helping authors choose the best one for their end goals. I’m also a big proponent of the 5 Sentence Method of plotting, which helps a lot of neurodivergent authors learn to plot.

Long story short, I have plenty to say, and would be happy to speak on any topic relating to publishing or writing.

Keep in mind, my attendance will depend on several factors, including conference timing and location, the cost to travel there, hotel costs, etc. It’s expensive to appear at conferences, so while I want to say yes to every engagement, it will all depend on my finances and other obligations.

Still, if you’re interested, please contact me to discuss availability!

On occasion, I’ll offer signed books… but it’s at the whim of my schedule. I don’t have any available for purchase on my website, and that’s simply due to the time constraints of supplying copies and mailing them out.

You can always check my Events page and visit me at a signing! I’ll always make sure to sign the copies a store has available, so they will likely have signed copies for a while.

For my cozy fantasies, keep an eye out for special editions announced on my TikTok or Instagram!

wish I could say yes to this. You have no idea how badly I want to learn speed reading.

Unfortunately, I read with the speed of a turtle carrying dynamite across a busy road. At any moment, I could be flattened, explode, or worse. It’s a miracle I finish books at all.

So basically, no, and it’s a Big Sad for me. I greatly appreciate all the indie authors who have asked to send me copies of their books, but I just don’t have the time or shelf space to accept them. 🙁

You got a Copy copy!

By my estimation, there are 78 Copy copies of Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea97 Copy copies of A Pirate’s Life for Tea92 Copy copies of This Gilded Abyss, and 114 Copy copies of The Day Death Stopped. That means these are VERY rare special editions!

The first one (in CSTWT) was a mistake, kindly pointed out by Danny on X. Everything afterwards was intentional, because pranking my readers is one of my favorite pastimes. >.> The only way to get a Copy copy was by supporting me on Amazon in the first couple days of a book launch. 😀

There are NEW Copy copies coming for the UK version of Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea! I have personally added “Copy copy” to 100 of the Waterstones special edition while signing tip-in sheets. A few even have special doodles. If you got one of these, congratulations! You had a 1 in 30 chance, so your luck is strong today! Buy a lottery ticket. 😛

Congratulations on your Copy copy!!

I can’t fabricate Copy copies–the original ones are printed, and the Waterstones ones were limited to 100, each numbered to show authenticity.

However, I would be happy to add “Copy copy in my heart” to yours, as something of a second edition Copy copy! I always appreciate the folks who come to my signings, and this seems like a good middle ground for these rare special editions. 🙂

Social Media Marketing

God, doesn’t that sound exhausting?

I’d say NO, because you’ll be pulled in too many directions. Instead, find one, maybe two social medias you don’t actively hate. All the better if you enjoy spending time there as a consumer–it’ll make the bridge to creator much easier.

Once you get one or two profiles established and start seeing followers rising, toss in a new one. But I wouldn’t go on more than 3 or 4 places reliably. Otherwise it’s too many spots to spread information, and you’ll inevitably fall behind on some. (See my facebook page for proof of that.)

When all else fails, a website like this is a great central source of information on your books.

TikTok and Instagram are my favorites, simply because both have a thriving community of readers, writers, and everyone in between. I emphasize community, because too many people approach the app as a way to sell books, rather than form connections. I’ve met incredible friends on both, and I use them as platforms to discuss writing, publishing, and marketing–but also my dogs, my life, my hobbies and passions.

Tip one: be a real person. If you try to curate yourself into a model, most social medias will not respond favorably. They want authenticity, not staged images of how great you are. Even on Instagram, folks are getting tired of that picture-perfect author. Be real.

Tip two: make friends. Do this by following others. Engage in their content. Ask questions, listen to the answers, and establish yourself as a pillar of a community. If people know you, when you finally have a book for sale, they’ll be tripping to support your novels–same as you supported them. That’s community.

The basic answers are basic for a reason. Engage on a higher level and you’ll have higher results. If all you’re using it for is to shout “buy my book,” don’t be surprised when everyone scrolls past.

There’s a goldmine community in BookTok and Bookstagram. You just have to do a little digging.

Good lighting. A tripod to stabilize the video. Quick, fast-paced clips of you speaking, trimmed to cut out the millennial pause. Trending music attached to every video, even if it’s muted. Clear, concise speech. A variety of video styles, including speaking videos, dance videos, acting videos, page flip videos, and everything in between.

But the biggest tip I have is to be succinct. Don’t tell us that you look terrible, but here’s why you’re recording anyway. Don’t give us a lengthy backstory before diving into the meat of your topic. GET TO THE POINT. You have maybe 3 seconds to hook someone before they scroll to the next video. How will you use it?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to explore everyone’s videos and offer feedback. I recommend you follow me on TikTok and Instagram and analyze the promotional videos I use.

Hint: it’s a lot of trending sounds and short videos.

Influencers, booksellers, and librarians make an author’s world go ’round. I literally would be nowhere without them picking up my novel and waving it on social media or in their stores / libraries. My print sales are consistently higher than my ebook sales, which is highly abnormal for indie authors. I can literally pinpoint a correlation between a promotional video and my sales. There’s a reason BookTok tables take center stage in nearly every bookstore these days!

I literally cannot thank these folks enough for what they do. They’re amazing.

This goes back to that community I was talking about earlier. I try to help influencers, booksellers, and librarians however I can. Most of them just want engagement, followers, and books, so I promote them whenever possible, duet their videos, and set aside hundreds of ARCs just for them. Without their help, I’d be nowhere.

I joined TikTok in February 2022 on the advice of my graduate marketing professor–a man who works very high up in the acquisition department of Disney’s press. He emphasized that TikTok is tossing publishing on its head, and advised us all to join.

I spent a few months scrolling, then decided to start building a following in earnest. From about June 2022, I set a schedule to post at least once a day. I had a modest following of about 3,000 followers when I published Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea in September 2022. After that, I climbed to 6,000 by December. My first video went viral with 2.1 million views around Christmas 2022, and nearly doubled my followers in the coming weeks. I spent 2023 posting at least once a day, and now I’m finally able to cut back in 2024 on original videos.

It’s a long ride, but it’s definitely possible if you create solid, engaging content.

Regretfully, this is a side of visual social media that I’m unfamiliar with. There are a few accounts I’ve stumbled on with people who don’t show their faces, either by framing them out of the shot or using a unique mask. But it seems like a lot of effort, and it’s not something I was interested in pursuing.

I’m sure it’s possible to become viral and successful without showing your face. I just don’t have any tips on it, since all of my experience has relied on presenting my truest self and letting people get to know me. If you can find a way to meld the two, let me know!

Personal Questions

That would be my lovely website designer, Mindy Johnston. She adapted my dragon tattoo into a wax seal, and then based the entire website around it!

The original dragon design was done by my friend, Anna Oman. It was adapted into a tattoo by SolTattoo.

Currently, Arizona! I was raised in the East Valley of Phoenix, AZ. (No, I’m not Mormon.) I have a deep appreciation for the desert, and try to hike at least once a week in the winter. In the summers, I love driving north and spending time in Flagstaff, Pinetop, and Payson.

I do indeed! I’ve been a flight attendant for over a decade now. I’ve worked with two major US airlines and have no intention of quitting. While I’ve scaled back my hours to write more often, I still try to fly about 3 – 6 days a month. You may see me on your next Southwest flight!

Yes! I earned my MFA in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing from Emerson College in May 2023, and was selected as the School of the Arts commencement speaker. I have also completed graduate level coursework in Rhetoric, Writing, and Digital Media Studies with NAU.

(Note: you do not need an MFA to be a successful writer, but you usually need one to teach in a higher education classroom.)

I have more information about my teaching philosophy in the “Contact” page. If you represent a college or university and are interested in speaking about employment or guest lecture opportunities, please let me know!

Yes. I identify as bisexual, but lean far closer to the lesbian side than anything straight-passing. I am also demisexual, and was asexual for many years before I found that special person. I support any and all queer agendas, and my books usually contain lesbians. 😉

Nah. I know a lot of women write m|m, but that’s very far from what I know. (And yet, most of those women seem to identify as straight. The psychology behind this fascinates me.)

My personal comfort level is to focus on female stories. While I encompass diverse casts in all my books, any gay men will be side characters, and that’s about it.

Audrey, my fiancée, said that I could be single if someone rich and hot comes knocking, provided they give us access to their bank accounts. So far, we’re still waiting. >.>

Under no circumstances am I allowed to pursue a certain Canadian lumberjack.

If you want to see how Audrey proposed (at my first book event for Treason, with all my family and friends in the audience), check it out here! Be warned–you may cry.

Still have questions?

Rebecca offers consulting for authors and businesses. Find more information on her Contact page!