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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Indie Author and Audiobook Narrator, Becky Doughty, & a Christmas E-Book Giveaway!

This interviewee is so close to my heart! Becky Doughty is not only my critique partner, but my friend, my supporter, my sounding-board...and one of the few who encouraged me that I COULD go indie and succeed. I thank God upon every remembrance of her!

Today I wanted to chat with Becky, whose readers haven't ceased begging for more books with her Elderberry Croft protagonist, Willow Goodhope. Accordingly, Becky just released a holiday sequel, Elderberry Days: A Season of Joy.

Honestly, Becky is quite simply one of the most productive authors I know and a true Renaissance Woman. Not only does she have nine indie novels and novellas out, she has also narrated nineteen audiobooks through Audible (one of those is my God's Daughter). You can find her books here and BraveHeart audiobook samples here. ~Heather Day Gilbert

Becky Doughty, Author
Becky Doughty is the author of the best-selling Elderberry Croft series and the voice behind BraveHeart Audiobooks. 

Becky is married to her champion of more than 25 years, Kevin. They have three children, two of whom are grown and starting families of their own, and they all live within a few miles of each other in Southern California.

Author Website:
BraveHeart Audiobooks Website:
Email: becky(at)beckydoughty(dot)com
Twitter: @BeckySDoughty
Google Plus+BeckyDoughty
Pinterest: BeckySDoughty

Interview with Becky Doughty, 

Indie Author & Audiobook Narrator

HG: Welcome, my friend! Let's go back in time...say, two years ago. What did your writing career look like then? What led you to go indie?

BD: Heather, thank you so much for inviting me here today! And thank you, Novel Rocket readers, for having me!

Actually, my indie journey began about 4 years ago, although I didn't quite realize that's what I was doing! Like so many authors I know, I've been writing stories, primarily for fun (and therapy!) since I was old enough to string sentences together. I've often considered “getting serious” about my writing, but put marriage and family and my day jobs my writing was just a hobby, just “for me” projects. 

Well, one of the fun projects I took on was writing a series of Bible study stories for our church's women's monthly brunch. The series was well received, and the women requested I compile them into a collection so they could have a copy, and gift copies to friends and family. So I did a little research into the most efficient and cost-effective means to printing this collection, and discovered it was cheaper for me to publish it using a “print-on-demand” system than it would be for me to have a local print shop do them for me...and I wouldn't have to stock the books either! 

So I learned how to format, how to create a cover with the help of a friend who was proficient at PhotoShop, and how to set up my own publishing house (BraveHearts Press), and distributed the book, Life Letters: The Fruit of the Spirit, to the major online booksellers. It truly was the simplest way to create the product this group of women asked for. I had no real intention of doing more indie publishing, nor did I consider this a major milestone in my career.

However, the positive response I received to my writing encouraged me to pick up my pen more seriously, so over the next 18 months, I wrote like a maniac and landed a wonderful agent with my fiction. It was during this time that I met Heather, too!

As my books were being shopped around, I started paying close attention to what was going on in the indie publishing world. I decided to proactively pursue BOTH indie publishing and traditional publishing, and in January of 2013, I began self-publishing a serial novel, Elderberry Croft, first through my website in monthly episodes, then in volumes at the major online booksellers. I then compiled Elderberry Croft: The Complete Collection and published that in January 2014. Over the last two years, the response to Elderberry Croft has grown in leaps and bounds, and because of its success, I opted to indie publish some of my other fiction. As a result of that decision, my agent and I parted ways amicably, but I still consider traditional publishing as a viable option for me and hope to pursue that again in the near future.

HG: Why did you choose to publish your novel, Elderberry Croft, as a serial novel on your blog? How did you go about that? And what was the response to it?

BD: I started writing Elderberry Croft, a serial novel in monthly episodes, as a way to give readers a taste of my story voice. I posted it for free on my website the whole year of 2013, then pulled it in 2014 and published the series as a complete collection. The series is by far my best seller, and I think much of that is due to the steady production, the fact that I wasn't initially looking at this project as a book to SELL, but as a book on which to build a readership, (Click to Tweet!) and therefore, I basically gave it away for a full year. Volume 1, the first 3 episodes of the series, is still FREE. This has been a long term investment project, and I'm beginning to see long term results.

Elderberry Croft: The Complete Collection on Amazon
The response has been very positive and many have asked for more, so last month I published a holiday sequel novella, Elderberry Days:Season of Joy!

Elderberry Days: Season of Joy on Amazon
***And to say “Thank you” and “Merry Christmas” from me to you, I'm giving away digital copies of both Elderberry Croft: The Complete Collection and Elderberry Days: Season of Joy to ALL WHO COMMENT HERE from now until December 25th! (Click to Tweet!) Please be sure to leave your email address and the format you prefer: pdf, mobi for Kindle, or epub.***

HG: Our critique process is crucial for me and I don't feel comfortable publishing a book without your input. You tell me when a story is unworkable and heading the wrong way, when I misspell words I was sure I knew how to spell, or when characters aren't coming across the right way. What do you think is the key thing to look for in a critique partner? I would recommend someone whose writing you respect; someone whose judgment you trust; and someone who brings elements to the table that balance your writing style.

BD: Oh goodness. I always know I can count on you, Heather. Having a critique partner, someone you can trust to read your story without trying to make it sound like their voice is paramount to producing a quality product. And that IS what we're doing. We're not just writing stories. As indie publishers, we're producing a product in its entirety

We want the story to be sound and relevant, the cover to be professional, the editing to be quality, the presentation as a whole to be stellar. This is not about comparing indie to traditional, but about creating the best product possible, period. A critique partner must be of the same mindset. I don't want someone who will let things slide because we're buds. I want someone who will hold me to the highest standard BECAUSE we're buds and because she wants the best for me, just as I want the best for her. That's why I feel so confident in this partnership, Heather.

HG: Thank you and I feel the same way! You have several novels out: Elderberry Croft; Elderberry Days: Season of Joy; Waters Fall; and Juliette and the Monday ManDates. I believe next on your publication agenda is Renata and the Fall from Grace (you know I'm anxiously waiting to read that one!). Can you tell us a little about the four sisters in The Gustafson Girls series and Renata in particular?

BD: Absolutely! The Gustafson Girls is a series about 4 sisters whose parents were killed fifteen years earlier by a drunk driver. Although raised by loving grandparents, it’s the G-FOURce—the Gustafson Four Sisters Club—that binds them together when their differences would tear them apart. All grown up now, Juliette has become the quintessential doormat, Renata, the self-appointed matriarchal figure. Phoebe is, at least according to Renata, borderline narcissistic, and Gia is on the verge of a major identity crisis.

Then there’s Angela Clinton, the senior class darling who drove her cherry black 1970 el Camino into the side of their parents’ car on the night of Juliette’s high school graduation. Angela’s prison sentence is winding down; soon she’ll be eligible for parole and moving back to town. Will the G-FOURce be strong enough to hold them together as they step into the eye of the storm that’s been brewing for the last fifteen years? Will they finally be able to let go of the past and embrace the future, no matter what it holds?

Cover Art for the Gustafson Girls Series
Juliette's story is already available on Amazon (Juliette and the Monday ManDates), and will go to other online booksellers the first of the year. Renata is the second sister, and the only one who is married. She feels responsible for “keeping the other girls in line,” much to everyone else's chagrin. But Renata's own life is about to spin out of her tight-fisted control and no amount of careful planning, pride, or will power is going to save her. Her faith in God, the bonds of her marriage, her role in the G-FOURce, even her black and white ideas of right and wrong, will all be tested.

Renata and the Fall from Grace is scheduled for release in early Spring, around the first of February. Books 3 and 4, Phoebe and the Rock of Ages and Gia the Blast from the Past, will  also be released later in 2015.

HG: How did you decide to go into audiobook narration? How laborious of a process was it to get everything set up for that?

Becky in her audiobook studio
BD: This was actually a huge part of my decision to venture fully into indie publishing last year. I realized that if I was going to be a full time author/publisher, I'd need to diversify and find other income streams within the industry. 

As much as I enjoy editing, after a really difficult experience, I realized it was not a service I could comfortably offer. Although I enjoy creating my own covers, I knew I didn't have the patience or know-how or programs to do them for others. I'm not a consistent blogger, so turning my blog into a source of income stream wasn't a good fit, either. 

But I've spent my whole life reading stories out loud – to my siblings, to the kids on the school bus (usually my own serial novels before I knew they were called that! I'd write a new chapter each night and read it on the way to school the next day), then to my children, and hopefully, one day soon, to my grandchildren. I'm also quite comfortable behind a microphone, being a member of a very musical family (we have a family band, aptly named “The Rowdy Doughtys), and we already had much of the equipment I'd need to narrate from my home.

So my husband and I converted a closet in my office into a sound booth, purchased a few pieces of equipment and software as we could afford it, and now, almost a year later, I just completed my 19th audiobook. I've had some wonderfully patient authors who have ridden the learning curve with me, and I'm really beginning to find my groove with the audiobooks. It's a fairly simple thing to get into, but it requires a lot of work to make the business successful, and a willingness to constantly look for ways to produce better sound, better working relationships, better standards, better voices, better interpretations.

I'm also learning to be selective about material I narrate, not just based on content rating (I've labeled myself as a “Clean Reads” narrator, something that is remarkably subjective in this industry), but also based on the story itself, whether or not it's something I enjoy reading personally. My husband works alongside me in this business, and he can tell when my heart isn't in a project. He's a good filter for me.

As the proverbial shoemaker whose children go barefoot, I have yet to narrate one of my own books, but that's a project I'm looking forward to at the beginning of the year, starting with Elderberry Croft and Elderberry Days.

Thank you, again, Heather, and all the Novel Rocket gang, for having me here today. I've learned so much from what others share on this website. Don't forget! I'm gifting e-book copies of Elderberry Croft and Elderberry Days to all who comment here from now until December 25th! Be sure and leave your email address and the format you prefer: pdf, mobi for Kindle, or epub. Merry Christmas, friends!

HG: Thank you so much, Becky, and your giveaway just shows your heart of giving to others. Thank you for all the time and encouragement you've given to me! And be sure to comment with your email to receive your e-book copies of Becky's books!


LadySaotome said...

Thanks for a great interview. I just read the first chapter of Life Letters - wow! Definitely gets you thinking - I can see why the ladies pushed you to publish it. I look forward to reading the Elderberry series, too! We have chokecherries around here - I love the jam - I wonder if I could make tea from them, too? ;)

kawaiikaters -(at)- - mobi format, please.

Kate F Eaton said...

I always find posts on Novel Rocket inspiring, but this one, in particular, helped me to see the process that can lead to fulfillment (and publishing!) as a writer. Thanks for sharing. Would love to receive a Kindle copy of the books you mentioned.

Becky Doughty said...

Hello! I'm finally here! It's been one of those "pre-Christmas" mornings, I'm telling you. Love this time of year!

Heather, thank you so much for having me here today! This was such a great set of questions for me to answer - such a good reminder of the milestones along the journey I've been on the past four years. I'm totally blessed by friends like you who are walking this road with me. I've met some of the BEST people - and AUTHORS! - along the way, and I couldn't ask to be on a better adventure.

I'll pop back in throughout the day - hope to give lots of ebooks away this week!

Merry Christmas!
Becky Doughty

Heather Day Gilbert said...

You know I loved having you visit and share about your indie pub and narrating journey! And thank you for sharing with the Novel Rocket readers YOUR wonderful books!

Michael Ehret said...

Becky, I'm intrigued by the notion of recording audiobooks. I've always loved reading to kids and participating in theater. How did you know your voice would be one people would want to listen to? You know, because we all hear our own voices totally different than others do.

I don't know what versions I want the books in. I read ebooks on my iPhone (the ancient-by-iPhone-standards 4S) in a Kindle app.

Becky said...

I'm glad to learn a little about Becky today. It is great you have such a good critique partner relationship :)

Becky said...

oops, I'd prefer Kindle version

Becky Doughty said...

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to stop by, and for your kind words! I don't know much about choke cherries, but I know there's lots of information out there on how best to prepare them. Just make sure you find a trusted site - is one of my favorite places to go for information that's down to earth and every day life applicable!

I hope you enjoy Elderberry Croft and Elderberry Days - I'll get those off to you shortly!

Merry Christmas!

Becky Doughty said...


Thanks for stopping by today. Yes, Novel Rocket is a wellspring of information for every aspect of this industry. I'm thrilled to know that my own journey inspires you in some small way - we all have our own path to walk, so watch for those open doors and be bold enough to go through them when you find them! God is a God of opportunities, and He loves it when we have our eyes open.

Please leave an email address for me to send you your ebooks, and what format you'd like them in, okay? PDF, mobi for Kindle, or epub.

Merry Christmas,

LadySaotome said... looks like a great resource. I'm going to have fun exploring there - thanks!

Becky Doughty said...


Glad to have you join us today! That's a great question - I don't know that I KNEW people would want to listen to me, but like so much of my journey, I simply decided to do it and went for it. The beauty of ACX (where I have most of my contracts) is that you can create a profile for yourself and upload samples of your narration. Then you can audition for projects or authors contact you asking for you to audition. There's no up front costs to establishing yourself there, but your home studio can make or break you. You need up-to-date equipment, the right recording programs, and a silent zone/sound booth in which to record - that's where the cost is.

Then the work really begins. It's not as simple as just reading out loud. Audiobook listeners are picky listeners, and if your narration distracts them in any way, they'll say so. I have reviews to prove that!!!! I've learned a LOT in the year I've been doing this, and most of it is from people who were not afraid to tell me what I was doing wrong. I've upgraded my equipment three times, changed my recording and mastering techniques close to a dozen times, and have learned to time my recording schedule around a myriad of things from traffic, household and family noise, my own voice quality (which changes depending on time of day, sleep pattern, sleep quality, water consumption, what I eat, etc.), and anything else my good quality (absolutely necessary!) microphone picks up. A typical hour of finished material usually takes upwards of 6-8 hours to produce start to finish, so an 80,000 word novel, which equals approximately 9 finished hours, is easily a two week project for me working 5 days a week, 5-6 hours a day (about all my voice can handle at a time).

But my opinion in this industry is that you won't know if something is or is not right for you until you try it. So, if you're interested, GO FOR IT! And has LOTS of how-to videos and equipment guides, etc. - a great place to start for someone considering getting into this.

I'll send you a mobi file of the books, then! You can email them to your kindle accounta and you can read them on your Kindle app! I will, however, need an email address in order to send these to you.

Thanks again and Merry Christmas!

Becky Doughty said...


Thanks for visiting with us today! Yes, a good critique partner is absolutely necessary, no matter what avenue you take toward publication. And my advice is to take your time searching CAREFULLY for just the right person - someone who is on the same level as you are. So important!

I'll send you your copies of Elderberry Croft and Elderberry Days in mobi shortly. I do hope you enjoy reading them!

Merry Christmas!


Michael Ehret said...

Thanks for the interesting info ... opusmle ( at ) gmail (dot) com.

Becky Doughty said...


You're welcome! And got the email, too, so watch for your books!


Becky Doughty said...

It's a fantastic site for anyone even remotely interested in herbs and home made/grown stuff. You WILL have fun there!

Faith Hope Cherrytea said...

Loved meeting you, Becky , and all the interesting steps in your journey. Fascinated with narrating . Your interests are inspiring. TY for sharing your gifts - I anticipate many happy reading times thanks to you! [mobi]
faithhopecherrytea [at gmail.]com
HapPiest Christmas & every cont'd success!


Trixi said...

Wow, what an interview! I really enjoyed learning about your road to a writing career & narrating for your audio books. I think it's neat that your first "mission" was writing bible study stories for your women's monthly brunch. That would be a nifty project & lots of fun! I've tried writing a diary when I was younger, but that just didn't pan out for me, guess I just don't have the stick-to-itivness, lol! Forget a blog, that requires a lot of discipline & time I just don't have :) I'm glad to have met you through this interview. May the Lord richly bless you as you continue to heed His call & direction in your life! Merry Christmas to you and yours & remember what this season is really about, John 3:16 (God's love for us demonstrated through His Son). I own a Kindle, so guess that would be mobi? Thank you for gifting copies of Elderberry Croft the complete collection & Elderberry Days: A Season of Joy


Kathy Rupff said...

I'm a huge fan of Elderberry Croft and Becky Doughty! It is great to learn even more about her and her process. Thanks so much! Look forward to reading more from Becky! I read on a Kindle, and just purchased the soft-back version for my Mom. Blessings to all and Merry Christmas! kathy(dot)rupff(at)yahoo(dot) com

Becky Doughty said...


Thank you - happy to share. Yes, narrating is a wonderful way to diversify in this industry. If it's something you're interested in, absolutely look into it!

I'll get your mobi ebooks off to you shortly - I hope you enjoy them!

Merry Christmas!


Becky Doughty said...


Well, stick-to-it-iveness or not, I enjoyed reading your comment! I totally understand about the discipline thing, though. I am a TERRIBLE blogger, and have started MANY a diary with grand intentions that are really delusions. I have a shelf of them with the a month or two of bedraggled entries before I turn to writing someone else's stories...those are far more exciting than mine anyway. :-) But when I write my fiction, I write in big chunks, getting as much out as possible between meals, sleep, and showers. TMI, I suppose, but its what works for me. My husband has learned to recognize that glazed over look in my eye.... He keeps me plied with coffee and chocolate; good man.

And yes, yes, YES! What better demonstration of TRUE LOVE than God's own Son!

Anyway, thanks for stopping by. I'll send your mobi ebooks shortly. I do hope you enjoy them thoroughly!

Merry Christmas,

Becky Doughty said...


How LOVELY to see you here today! Thank you for your kinds words.

I'm sending you mobi ebooks of both books - grateful for you and your encouragement.

Merry Christmas!

Heidi Blankenship said...

Hi Becky, I really enjoyed hearing more about the process of audio book narration. What an exciting way to diversify your talent in this industry. Thank you for sharing your work. I look forward to reading it. I'd prefer a Mobi for Kindle version, please. My email is Heidi McCahan {at} gmail {dot} com. Merry Christmas!

Becky Doughty said...


Thanks for stopping by! Yes, I think that's the key word to making a career out of this industry - diversify. And although it's been much more work than I ever anticipated, it's also been rewarding in ways I never anticipated. I'm still learning the balancing act of it all... but then, I think that's the challenge of every author, isn't it?

I'll get those books to you shortly - I do hope you enjoy them!

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Becky,
I was excited to read about you and how you published your book serially on your blog. I had the idea to do that a couple of years ago, but hadn't seen anyone else do it. Of course, I don't have a blog or anything usable written yet, but now I'm raring to go. May the Lord continue to bless you.

I would love your books for the Kindle app to sbeatty (at) reagan (dot) com.

Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas,

Anonymous said...

Sorry. I had to do that as "Anonymous" because I didn't know what profile to select. :-(

Becky Doughty said...


That's wonderful! DO it! It really is an excellent way to start the journey - at least it was for me. It not only forced me to get disciplined (consistently writing, editing, polishing, and publishing 10,000 words a month), but also made me accountable to readers...and I'm one of those people motivated by looming deadlines. Even if you have no readers - I had almost none the first 6 months, but then saw the spark begin to catch. It's been slow going, but that's okay. I'm a firm believer in hard work - gives invaluable worth to what we do. Even when--and maybe especially when--no one is looking.

BE encouraged, Susan. Get your stories out there.

I'm sending your mobi files shortly.

Merry Christmas!

Lieniitte B said...

Thanks for the opportunity to read your books! I would love to read the Elderberry Croft series, and I'll have to look more into the Gustafson Girls series sometime as well, it looks really good! :)

My email: lieniitte(at)gmail(dot)com

Laura Berkholtz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura Berkholtz said...

I read the first part of the Elderberry Croft series and loved it. I'd love to get the rest!

Id prefer the Kindle version and my email is laura_parent (at) yahoo (dot) com

Becky Doughty said...


I'm happy to share these stories with you and I do hope you get a chance to cozy up to the Gustafson sisters, too. I'm sending out your ebooks shortly - I'm sending mobi files for Kindle or your Kindle app. If you need something else, let me know!

Merry Christmas!


Becky Doughty said...


Excellent! I'm glad to hear you've already met Willow Goodhope and want to know more about her story! I'm pleased to share these with you!

I'll be sending your books shortly, so watch for them!

Merry Christmas!

Yolanda G said...

Hi Becky, Thank you, would love to read your books!
Mobi for kindle please & thank you!

Becky Doughty said...


Thanks for stopping by! You got it - I'm sending them off shortly!

I hope you enjoy getting to know Willow Goodhope and her neighbors.

Merry Christmas!


Teresa Richards said...

I would love to read your books. :) I use the kindle app for reading. Thank you! Merry Christmas :)

Becky Doughty said...


I'm so sorry I missed this before Christmas! Thanks for stopping by - I'll send you your books as soon as I sign off here!

I hope your Christmas was lovely.

Becky Doughty

Becky Doughty said...

Novel Rocket and Readers,

Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your holidays. I appreciate each of you. And Heather, you're the best. Thanks for inviting me to share a peek inside my own writing journey.

For those of you who received books, I hope my words bless you greatly. If anyone has not received their books, please don't hesitate to email me personally and request your copies: becky (at) beckydoughty (dot) com.

Happy New Year!

Becky Doughty