I recently shared the exciting news about having my first book, Of Fire and Steel, picked up by a publisher and wrote about the unusual way that happened. Shortly after that, I sat down with Aaron Hughes, the Managing Director of Rambunctious Ramblings Publishing Incorporated to talk about his unconventional approach and how he plans to turn the publishing world on its head for reader and writer alike.
Q: When first coming up with the idea for RRPI, what was the thought process? If you could pick a few things that you wanted to do differently than the competition, what would you say those are?
A: The thought process behind the creation of RRPI was to end the elitism. I was a real estate agent after I got out of the Marine Corps, as such I provided a service to buy and sell homes. There was no legal requirement behind our position, only the tradition and ease of completion to use an agent. The same is true about the current publishing industry. There is a sense of “You need us”.
Not anymore. Anyone can publish a book through a wide variety of means. So what do you need a publishing company for? What point is there to have one sign you? Exposure? They commonly target authors who have a large social media following. Marketing assistance? Not much. Generally they’ll plop a few shares and that’s it. So this is where I thought of something different.
I want to open the flood gates and mentor authors. I want their bright and wonderful ideas, I want to help mold them into something that can bring merriment to the masses. I want to help them grow into something fantastic. So I thought “How do you do that?” I bounced ideas off of my wife and Ashley, our Branding Director, and came up with a solid concept.
RRPI is a company that goes after the small fry to help them complete their dream of becoming a professional author. We figure out how they work, how they think, and what they need that they can’t easily do themselves. Some people need a boot in the rear end, whereas others need to know that what they’re writing isn’t garbage, while some just need a timeline for completing work.
Every unknown author has been tread upon by society, their friends and family, publishing companies or more. With each submission for a contest, or query, I give them an answer, “Yes” or “No”, but more importantly, why. I detail what I liked and disliked about their story. Where I would go with it and what they should do. Currently there are two people who submitted to me for publishing and I told them to go back and fix things then I’ll sign them. It is a test to see if they can adapt.
So in short, RRPI is about the author bringing their best, adapting their best to give the reader the easiest path into their mind. A path to see the worlds and characters that are hidden away. A path to bring joy and love, adventure and intrigue, and so much more to the world.
Q: When you say you accept all submissions, that means you’re giving everything a fair chance, right?
A: Correct. We accept submissions for consideration to publish from any genre and experience level. We also do not limit submission times to certain dates like other companies. We believe this hinders the possibility to have creative people come to us. Creativity doesn’t know timetables.
Q: So would you say you focus more on creativity than the average company?
A: We focus on the author and their creative process. We take time to understand their abilities and limitations and work with them to bring out their best for the reader.
Q: My understanding of traditional publishing is limited, but it seems like authors have more input with RRPI than the average publisher. How intentional is that?
A: One-hundred-percent intentional. When I created RRPI, I wanted authors to work with us through the process and learn what needs to be done. Not sit in the dark and wait for orders. If they know what it takes, they build trust with RRPI and it becomes easier with each book that comes through the mill.
Q: You don’t have genre limitations and you have said you don’t go after an established author. Is there something particular you’re trying to offer readers that you feel like they aren’t currently being offered by the industry?
A: Open creativity. With genres and established authors you get preconceived notions. With a mix of genres or new authors you get surprises. It’s a way to bring new things to the world of literature and show that not everything needs to be put neatly into a box. The real world is messy and so are the worlds that our authors create. RRPI wants to bring a whirlwind through the literary community and we want every reader to be caught up in the flow.
Q: With that in mind, what is your process for deciding if an author and work would be a good fit with RRPI? What kind of issues are you willing to help an author work through that more traditional publishers would move past?
A: I don’t look at the word count or the genre. I don’t care about that. A good story is something that speaks to you. If I get that feeling of hunger to read more while reading someone’s submission, I love it. If I don’t realize how long it took me to read it, I dive after the author to get them to sign with me. I will work through most any issue with an author. We have a few authors that have severe anxiety issues, others with families that take precedence, not to mention day jobs. Our job as a publishing house should be to make sure that our authors are happy; happy authors equal productive authors. Authors who feel included, who feel communicated to, who feel that their needs are important to the publishing house will work harder than anyone else out there. Its how I’ve always treated people I work with and people in my personal life. It’s how I got my wife to marry me, well that and constant pestering until she said yes.
Q: How does RRPI balance the unforgiving business world with the creative process? Those two things usually seem at odds with each other.
A: They very much are. We work with the author to establish what real life requirements they have and set dates, goals, deadlines, etc. based off that. It’s like balancing a truck on a toothpick, but it is possible. The key is to be as aggressive as your life allows you to. To plan far ahead of time so that you have plenty room for error and adaptation.
Q: You mentioned being a real estate agent and there is definitely an undertone of the Marine Corps in some of your answers. Are there things from these other fields that you think offer an edge?
A: I think that one must experience life before they move into what they want and are meant to be. As a real estate agent I had to field my own business opportunities by finding clients out of the blue. It allowed me to work independently and develop my own style of business management and leadership. As a Marine, of course it lends a lot to my perspective. Everything in business needs to be looked at coldly and my training taught me how to look at a problem from an outside perspective.
Q: Awesome. That leads directly into my next question. How do you plan to do that? We’ve talked a good bit about what you’re offering authors, but what about the competition? Do you view other publishing venues–traditional, indie, self–as competition?
A: I don’t believe that they are competition. They have different talent, different books, and different perspectives. RRPI is unique just as every other publishing house or self-publisher is unique. We bring our own sense of flare and style to the scene just as they do. I plan to revolutionize the publishing scene by producing quality books while shoving against the stigma that you must define your own niche in publishing in order to develop credibility. I believe consistency and customer service creates credibility. That is what I plan to offer and plan to execute by our daily existence as a company.
Q: What advice do you have for people who are still trying to get to the point of being ready to publish and maybe feeling overwhelmed by the whole process?
A: The answer is always “no” unless you ask. Just stop, breathe for a moment, and move on. If you get rejected, it’s all right. Everyone has been rejected, they know how you feel. You aren’t alone. I’ve fought just like you have to find my place in the world. I’ve fought to accomplish my dreams, to come back from nothing. I and many others are right there beside you. You may not see us, but you’re on the same trail as we are. Remember this and persist. I want to see what story you have to tell, and so does the rest of the world. Keep writing, things will get better.