Tracy Ruckman is publisher, writer, wife, and mom. She earned her bachelor’s degree in May 2014 and is now pursuing an MFA in Screenwriting. When she’s not working, studying, or writing, she likes to eat, sleep, cook, and explore.
One question I didn’t ask Tracy is, how in the world do you keep up?
I am so grateful she set aside some time to answer my questions. I hope you enjoy her interview, check out her websites, and please feel free to ask her a question of your own in the comment section of this blog post. I’m sure she’ll be glad to answer.
1. Why did you decide to start your own publishing company?
In 2009, my husband was forced into early retirement. We knew we needed to do something big and bold, so after lots of prayer and discussion I decided to go back to school. As I enrolled, I realized that the publishing industry had just taken a huge turn, and now was an excellent time for both authors and entrepreneurs.
2. How did you begin? (Research? Study? Jump in and learn along the way?)
In 2008, Jeff Gerke had launched Marcher Lord Press, and his publishing model intrigued me. I corresponded with him for a while, asking a lot of questions to determine whether this was something I could do with a different focus. Jeff published sci-fi/fantasy/spec fiction, and I wanted to publish other genres. We first opened Pix-N-Pens publishing, with a focus on evangelical books. Then a manuscript arrived that didn’t have a strong evangelical message, but the story was exceptional. I sent a rejection, although I really didn’t want to send it – I wanted to publish the book! Tim and I talked about it, and I decided to open a second imprint – Write Integrity Press – to have the ability to publish quality books that don’t necessarily have a gospel message, but that are still clean and wholesome. I then contacted the author I’d previously rejected, Jennifer Fromke, and was delighted to learn that her manuscript, Docking, was still available. We changed the title and A Familiar Shore became WIP’s first novel.
As of this writing, we’ve now published 32 books in print and/or digital formats.
3. What are some of the obstacles you have encountered?
Where do I begin? LOL! The enemy – satan – does not like our work. We’ve learned to recognize some of the attacks we face – his demons seem to hit all of us, publisher and authors – on a regular basis. From wacky computer issues to household disruptions (busted water lines, blown fuses, leaky roofs, etc) to wayward children to major storms (two tornadoes hit our house four days apart last summer, and there had never been a tornado in our area ever before!), we usually see an increase in life disturbances right before a major book launch. There have been so many, it’s almost become laughable (except for the one being hardest hit), so we call out the prayer warriors and push through.
Marketing has been another obstacle. We have some really excellent books, but getting the word out to more than just the hundreds of thousands of connections we have on Facebook and Twitter is proving to be a challenge. We’ve had some fun events in previous years that have helped generate buzz, but we’re ready for the next level now, so that’s what I’m working toward this summer. We’re still fairly small, and the business isn’t supporting itself yet. So our marketing efforts can’t be too costly – and that just presents the ever-familiar Catch-22 of needing money to make money.
My health has also posed its own set of problems in the past two years. If anyone had told me that approaching menopause would cause all the problems I’ve had, I might have rethought both school and publishing. But I push through. And thank God for iron supplements, protein bars, and B-12.
4. How do you stand out from other small publishers?
I’d like to think it’s because we treat our authors like family. We all work together as a team to market each other, and we pray for, support, and encourage one another. From the reader’s perspective, we may be different because we publish clean and wholesome books. I want readers to know they’re “safe” when reading our books.
5. Everyone always likes to share their horror stories, so let’s go another way. What has been your greatest blessing since you started your publishing company?
Watching our authors grow and blossom. I work with some of the finest writers in the industry, and to be a small part in their writing dreams being realized is a huge blessing. I have a deep, deep desire to help them realize even bigger dreams. We’ve just got to get there.
You can find more information about Tracy Ruckman and her companies at these websites:
Pix-N-Pens Publishing – www.PixNPens.com
Write Integrity Press – www.WriteIntegrity.com