#CreativeInsights: Ashley Ruggirello

Today’s creative insights come from Ashely Ruggirello, and we’re talking about one of my favorite subjects: Books! But specifically, what I’m going to call “small-batch, artisanal, hand-crafted publishing.” Enjoy!

Ashley Ruggirello

1) You are the founder and creative director of REUTS Publications, a full-service publishing house that focuses on YA and NA books. Can you tell us about what drew you to working with Young Adult and New Adult content— and how they’re different?

I guess you could say the main difference it boils down to is experiences. A lot of people will argue New Adult only exists in Romance so that more graphic sex scenes can be included, but that’s not necessarily the case, especially at REUTS where we have titles that step outside of the romance genre (books like The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Drew Hayes, and The Untold Tale by J.M. Frey). What we’re looking at in New Adult opposed to Young Adult are the experiences someone in the 18 – 25ish age range go through: college, new jobs, serious relationships, and yes, even sexual encounters. REUTS’s Editorial Director Kisa Whipkey has an in-depth blog post about What is “New Adult”? that’s definitely worth a read.

2) Living in Los Angeles, I’ve often felt as if the respect for indie or “non-studio” film is a lot higher than the respect for indie or “non-studio” books. In an ideal world, how would you envision making the market friendlier to books that aren’t put out by Simon & Schuster or HarperCollins?

A lot of it comes down to changing the perception of how indie books/publishers are viewed, being accessible, and producing fantastic, high-quality books! In any industry the big players who compose most of the marketplace have a powerful voice and large reach. But you can change the perception that is indie equals poor quality by being consistent in what’s produced, and interacting with the community in a positive way. Sure, it might be a slow process, but slow and steady wins the race. Change takes time, and we realize that. It’s an investment not only in our authors, but in the community we love a cherish.

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3) I’ll admit– I put out my first book by myself, through the good ol’ Kindle & CreateSpace. Why should writers have slightly more patience with a more traditional route of publishing?

You’ll see it said a lot, especially on Twitter, that publishing is a slow-moving industry, and this speed (or lack thereof) applies to each step—from sitting down and writing your novel, to querying agents/publishers, to the actual production of a manuscript into a novel. And, whether you’re self-publishing or going more of a traditional route, it takes a village to produce a high-quality product. Lots of hands touch a manuscript before it’s ready for the world and, naturally, when there are many people and many steps involved, it’s bound to take a little bit longer. In the self-publishing route, if you hire freelance editors, designers, marketers, etc… you’re aware of every step that goes into the production of a book, so the timing from the decision to publish and being published has an explanation. Maybe your editor found something that needs to change, or it’s taking a bit longer on the book cover. Regardless the reason, you know where you are in the process, and every aspect is personally managed. On the flip side, in a publishing house you might not be aware of what the marketing department is doing behind the scenes, or what supplemental graphics the creative department are whipping up in anticipation for your release. With these steps more removed from the author, in the sense that they aren’t directly responsible for executing them, it might seem like there’s a delay when there shouldn’t be, even though there isn’t. It comes with the territory of choosing traditional versus self: you receive the expertise of a team of publishing professionals without having to worry that every step is covered (or about fronting any sort of cost), opposed to being the project manager of your own book, and guiding it every step of the way. There’s advantages and disadvantages to both, and there’s a lot of trust involved from an author relinquishing some of that control (and, inevitably, stress) when handing off their manuscript baby to a traditional publisher. That’s why it’s important to find a publisher (or agent, or editor, etc…) who understands your vision, who you wholeheartedly trust, and who invests in you not just your story.

4) In addition to owning a publishing imprint, you also are a writer and blogger. And I LOVE your blog concept. Tell us how it came into being.

Thank you so much! :D

Honestly, it was a fluke! In my freelance time I’ve been working on a lot of cookbook interior designs for other authors and tweeted that I should create a Romanian cookbook with my family’s recipes, trying to make butter-heavy, Eastern European dishes “healthy” and call it From Dill To Dracula. As soon as I typed the name out it became a reality I couldn’t avoid. Instead of focusing on writing a cookbook, I figured I could accomplish the same goals in blog format and incorporate historical/cultural tidbits about Romania in between the recipes. That’s how From Dill To Dracula: A Food and Folklore Blog came to be.

Romanian Flatbread courtesy FROM DILL TO DRACULA

Romanian Flatbread courtesy FROM DILL TO DRACULA

I’m the first generation born outside of Romania, so it’s really an exercise to connect with a culture that’s still foreign to me. And, I love food, so what better way than trying to cook my way through some of my favorite childhood recipes, and some I’ve never even heard of? I’m also a huge vampire nerd, and seeing as the most popular vampire stories originated from Romania, it made sense to somehow incorporate them into the mix. From Dill To Dracula really is a labor of love. It’s so niche, I can’t imagine it ever gaining any substantial traction, but I’m viewing it more as a personal project that I can share with the world!

5) How can our readers keep in contact with you?

I’m fairly active on Twitter (@amruggs), which is probably the easiest way to get ahold of me. Since not everyone is on Twitter, you can also comment on my blog From Dill To Dracula, where I respond to every comment left, or my author Facebook page. I also don’t mind emails! amruggs {at} gmail {dot} com :)

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