• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Gmail
  • Yahoo Mail
  • Print Friendly

About the Episode

Today’s guest, Ben Avery, has spent years working with a spectrum of publishers from starting his own independent comic publisher to working with Marvel Comics and ZonderKids (as well as many different publishers in between). Now he’s in a new phase of his writing career as he gets ready to self-publish a Sci-Fi novel! And he’s sharing about all of it with us in today’s episode.


About My Guest

As a comic book writer, Ben has worked with a number of publishers, from Marvel to Zondervan, most recently working on Bible story adaptations for Kingstone Comics. He currently works as a children’s pastor in Nappanee, IN and hosts a couple different podcasts about pop culture (Welcome to Level Seven, Strangers and Aliens, and Comic Book Time Machine). Recently he has decided to self-publish a science fiction novel and is in the middle of figuring that out, and has started putting out YouTube videos about Christian science fiction books that are actually worth reading.



Click for Transcript

Ben: [00:00:00] They needed a writer to take the last three volumes of hand of the Morning Star. And so Brett said, Hey, can, can you do that? And I said, yeah, sure. I’d love to. I, and that was the first time I got to write superheroes, honestly, for comic books, which was kind of fun too. A lot of my comic book story has been being prepared and being in the right time. And the right place and, and being able to, to jump in and move ahead. But it’s also the relationship.

Rachel: It sounds a lot like you were ready. God opened the door and you walked through it.

Ben: Right. Exactly. Exactly.

[Title Slide] 

Rachel: Well, I’m so excited about welcoming my guest on today’s episode of the podcast. Ben Avery is a talented comic book graphic novelist. He is now writing a sci-fi novel that he plans to self-publish, and so I’m excited to talk to him about his journey so far, where he intends to go and the business decisions he’s made along the way.

So welcome Ben. I appreciate you being here with us today. [00:01:00]

Ben: Hey, thank you Rachel.

Rachel: So, Ben, before we get into like the nitty gritty about the. Business decisions, the business world being a creative in it. Why don’t you just tell us our, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and your, the work you’ve done and you know, maybe where you live, what family do you live with, all those things.

Ben: So I live in Indiana, uh, Napa, Indiana. So it really is, if you’re thinking of the stereotypical Indiana, it is in the middle of cornfields, for sure. Um, but I mean, there is more to Indiana than corn, but not in my area. I live with my wife and I live with my five children. We have no pets or anything like that.

But, uh, my kids range in age from middle school and I have two in high or two in high school and two in college. So I actually had one night last week where I was working on, uh, helping my son with his middle school math, and I was helping my daughter and my older son with, um, FAFSA applications for college.

So, and actually I had to do [00:02:00] three of those. Cause one of my daughters is a senior. Uh, oh my goodness. It was just this weird moment where I’m like, this is a weird stage in life right now. Yes, yes, yes. For sure. Yeah. So we, and I’m a children’s pastor. That’s my day job. Okay. Um, I’ve been doing that for about eight years now.

And before that I was, uh, almost a hundred percent freelance writer, uh, working on comic books and graphic novels. Yeah, I’ve, uh, before I was a full-time writer. I worked with, um, I worked as an English teacher and a journalism teacher and a drama teacher. And then I also worked at a, a college with my wife where we were resident directors and I ran the theater there. It was just different things like that. But um, yeah, that’s pretty much,

Rachel: Always kind of in that creative space.

Ben: Yeah. Yeah. So I graduated with a degree in, it was a liberal arts degree, which meant I had a lot of classes and we could make up a degree. And so it was a liberal arts degree with an emphasis in drama, in [00:03:00] English and in communication. Okay. So, yeah, so all of those things have been kind of a part of my world.

Rachel: So you’re one of those rare people that is actually using their degree.

Ben: Yeah. Technically, yes, I have been using my degree. However, um, I mean, like I said, I, I squeezed my four year degree into five years. And so I, it was just a matter of you got the classes, you got the credits, we can make this work.

And what I wanted to do with my life, like I’ve always known I wanted to write mm-hmm. , that was always what I wanted to do. I call myself a storyteller more than a writer these days. Okay. Uh, actually even when I started on Facebook, that’s what I named my Facebook page was Ben Avery’s storyteller. Mm-hmm.

And that’s because I was, you know, I did puppeteering, I did, um, I wrote stage, uh, plays, I wrote, um, all sorts of things like that. But then I also work with children where I’m teaching children about, you know, Jesus and, and the Bible and that sort of thing. And I’ve, um, and so storyteller has just kind of been the label that [00:04:00] I’ve used for just calling myself, like, what do I do? And Okay. Yeah.

Rachel: So you, so you have published quite a few things over the years. You’ve written. A large body of work. You, yeah. Um, so share a little bit with us about that, like the work that you have done over the years.

Ben: Yeah. So, um, after I did a semester in film school, um, and then I did a writing program about film.

Uh, I jumped straight into comic books, and so it was, it was an interesting thing though, because before I left to go to the writing program, that was, it was act one writing for Hollywood, which mm-hmm. , some, some of your listeners may be familiar with. It’s a Christian writing program at, I think it’s the first Presbyterian church in Hollywood.

Okay. At least it was when I went there. And, uh, And so I was wanting to go to Hollywood and that that was gonna be my mission field was going to be, um, you know, Los Angeles. And, uh, that my wife and I were both kind of set on that track. And then when I came back from that, we, we kind of thought, no, I think we’re supposed to be staying [00:05:00] here in Indiana.

Hmm. And, but then right after that, an opportunity came to, uh, through some of my comic book friends and opportunity came for some writing. Uh, uh, well, I was writing the adaptation of the Hedge Night by George RR Martin. Mm-hmm. And so I had already done some self-publishing in the comic world before that.

Okay. And so that’s how I kind of got to know this, uh, this artist’s friend, and he was working on the project, wasn’t too happy with the scripts that he had gotten from the writer who had been selected for the project. And so he asked if he could bring some friends in, have them write some samples, and then George chose the sample that he liked the best and he, he chose mine.

And so that was really what jumpstarted my writing career was getting in on that project. And then from there it turned into some. Um, some small press work in Christian comics and from there that turned into something, uh, in Zondervan with, uh, the Zondervan graphic novel series that they experimented with, I don’t know, 10, 12, 13 years ago.

I can’t remember how long [00:06:00] ago. But, um, and I wrote a couple different series for them with that. The hedge night project turned into two more books. One was directly for Marvel, and then, um, I think it was Harper Collins published the third book. Uh, and then through all of that I got connected with Kingstone, which is a Christian comic publisher out of Florida that was just getting started with the Kingstone Bible stories.

And I actually, that was a cool story too, where I went to a Christian film conference, the Gideon Film Conference, and while I was there, We were doing a mini comic convention and okay, there’s a number of people who had done work in comics and then other people had tables for their books and stuff. I’m sitting there with some of the Zondervan stuff I had done.

Time flies and kingdoms. Kingdoms was about the exile of Israel and the Babylon. And the thing I wanted to do next was the gospels, cuz it kind of chronologically went along with that. And I had someone stop by the table and he’s just, it was just small talk. And I said, really, the next thing I wanna do is, [00:07:00] uh, the life of Christ in chronological order, all four gospels.

And he just looked at me and said, yeah, so do we. So, uh, when you get home, why don’t you send me an email and tell me what it’ll take to make it happen? And oh my goodness. And I, he, it’s a 10 minute conversation. He walked away. I turned to the guy next to me and said, I think I just got a job. And it was perfect timing because I had a full-time job that two weeks earlier I had to resign from because they didn’t have work to give me.

Oh wow. It was a full-time writing job for an animation company and I’d worked with them for a year. But the projects that they were working on, Dried up and it was just, you know, I, I still have a working relationship with them, right? But the whole full-time with benefits, um, thing that they used to attract me away from my teeth, uh, I didn’t feel comfortable taking that.

And so I said, well, I think I needed two weeks cuz there’s nothing more to do. And I didn’t know what I was gonna do next, you know? And so I came out of that, that conference with, with this, uh, j with Kingstone that turned into a really just a, [00:08:00] a blessed relationship with them where I was able to work on life of Christ.

Um, in the midst of that, I did, uh, the Book of Job, which was another bible project that I really wanted to put in graphic novel form . I worked on a book for them called Book of God, which was just a graphic novel documentary about the Bible and where it came from and okay, how it came to be written, how it came to be preserved.

And I’m not an expert. I’m not a biblical scholar, but having gone to a Christian liberal arts college, I knew enough of the questions I needed to ask and knew enough of where to find the answers. And I also was able to connect with one of my old professors and who had actually worked on translating the Bible in a couple, uh, different translations.

And so, um, yeah, so that, that was a long lasting relationship. Again, still have a relationship with Art and Kingstone. Um, but yeah, that’s, that’s kind of my writing career and how the whole graphic novel thing happened.

Rachel: When you are saying that you worked on these graphic novels and comic books, [00:09:00] are you, were you the writer on that or did you also do do the illustration to it too?

Ben: Yeah, yeah. So you don’t want me drawing a comic book ? I wish I could easily grab it. I do have a, a pa a 24 page book that I did once as a challenge, and it was really fun and it really helped stretch my muscles, but it does not look good.

Rachel: You’re like, I know my lane and I’m staying in it.

Ben: Yeah. Yeah. I, I have done some fun, like little things like that, but it, you know, and it communicates and it’s artistic, you know, because it’s artistic expression. But no, I’m, I’m primarily a scriptor. Okay. And I script it for the artists and then the artist will take what I’ve written, uh, and I’ve worked with some amazing artists who have, uh, there’s two guys, Mike Miller and Sherwin Schwartz Rock, actually, and Sergio Carello, um, who when they take my script, it looks better than I pictured in my head. It’s Oh, just, oh, that’s gotta be so cool. Oh, it’s, it is. When you open up that email, I just can’t wait to [00:10:00] open up the email when I see there’s an attachment from Sherwin.

Cause I’m like, oh. Now it’s been years since I worked with him, but, um, he worked on one of my first books that I’m convinced, um, people judge a book by its cover. Mm-hmm. , you know, they can’t help it. And you know, if you look at that book you’d be like, wow, this guy’s a great writer. You know, because the art just carries it so.

Mm-hmm. so well and he knew flow and he knew how to design the page. So it did this, I keep going like this cuz the S curve. Yes. When you want your eye to travel in that s you know. Yes. And, um, yeah. Yeah. So I worked with some amazing talents, but, um, Yeah, like you said, I know my lane.

Rachel: So you have done all this work in the writing space, but now you’re a children’s pastor.

Are you still writing? Yeah. I know you, you have the novel coming up, but I’m talking about like, are you still doing other projects along the way? Like have you continued working in like freelance work as you’ve been a full-time pastor?

So I’ve done some small [00:11:00] projects for Kingstone. Uh, once they finished the full Bible, they didn’t have as much, uh, things that they needed from, from me because the Bible was done

And so , where do you go from there? We’re like, we’re right, we’re gonna stick with just the old New Testament, you know. Um, but uh, I have done a few small projects for them. I’ve also turned my attention toward audio drama and so I’ve, um, done some, I guess you call it self-published, but basically podcasting, audio, audio drama.

Mm-hmm. and then also have done some, um, Audio drama for a company in Michigan that produces Base Camp adventures and Okay. So that’s, uh, think, think Adventures in Odyssey. Yeah. Only it takes place on a campground in a mountain

I was just about to ask you if that’s what you meant and I was gonna use Adventures in Odyssey.

Ben: No, totally. That’s, that’s exactly what it is. And I hope be on some scripts for them right now. It’s harder now working full-time. Uh mm-hmm. Especially with the different, um, just the [00:12:00] stage in life I was talking about. It’s a very stage. Yeah. And it’s, it’s stretching me and pulling me in different directions.

Um, and just fortunately I have a just very talented and special wife who, you know, I’m, I’m very glad to be sharing all this with her because, um, yeah. I, I couldn’t do it with her, but

Rachel: yeah, those, having those, that supportive spouse is like, makes the world of difference. Yeah, it really does.

I’m not very familiar with being a writer for comic Booker graphic novels. Like do you, did you need to have like an agent at all or was it like a direct relationship with the publisher?

Like how did you, did you just get in at the right time? Like before they started having all this need for like agents and stuff or like how did that work out?

Ben: I’ve never had an agent. Okay. And I, and honestly I’ve had very few like, book proposals that I’ve put together. Okay. Um, so the work I got for, well, starting, I told, told you about the hedge night with [00:13:00] the George RR Martin project. Um, and so after that, uh, I had a friend that we had created this arm request book and it was done or not complete, completely done, but enough done that we could show it around. And we just had a connection of a guy who was like, Hey, I’m starting a publishing company. Uh, I’d love to have that, so, okay.

Okay. We’ll, we’ll go with ya. And then with, uh, Zondervan, I did have to create a, uh, a book proposal for Time Flies, because that was my project. Okay. But the other two books I ended up working on for Zondervan were not mine. And so it was just, it was that same guy actually who had, had started the publishing house that had, that took arm request.

He got a deal with Zondervan, and one of the ways that he got one of his books approved was, I’m doing Kingdoms and Ben Avery’s gonna write it. And so Zondervan was like, oh, we got a working relationship with him. And um, and then on the other book that I worked on for them, it was this, again, the same guy.

They needed a writer to take the [00:14:00] last three volumes of, uh, hand of the Morning Star. And so Brett said, Hey, can, can you do that? And I said, yeah, sure. I’d love to. I, and that was the first time I got to write superheroes, honestly, for comic books, which was kind of fun too. Yeah. Um, and so a lot of my comic book story has been being prepared and being in the right time. And the right place and, and being able to, to jump in and move ahead. Um, but it’s also the relationship.

Rachel: I say

it sounds a lot like you were ready. God opened the door and you walked through it.

Ben: Right?

Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And, and so, like I said, a lot of my projects I haven’t had to do a book proposal for because they came to me then and said, so Art from Kingstone said, we wanna do this book called Book of God about the history of the Bible.

Mm-hmm, what do you got for me? And so I kind of pitched him a couple ideas, but the, I, it wasn’t like I was pitching me. It was, here’s my ideas, the project, this. Yeah. Um, he said, we need job. Right. Take some time off from the Christ and do job. I’m okay because I really wanted [00:15:00] teach job. And so there’ve been some things like that.

And a lot of it has been, yeah, just having that relationship and. They trust, you know, it’s like Art trusts me because he knows I’m a believer. He knows that. Um, while, I may not be a Biblical scholar. I am a teacher of the Bible, and I, I research well, mm-hmm. And then I also understand the language of comics.

And so it’s understanding the language of, um, you know, biblical narrative and understanding the language of comic books and, and trusting me with both.

Rachel: And you kind of approach it, and I love the fact that you approach it this way, but you kind of approach it with this posture of like, whatever, I don’t know, I can find somebody who does know.

Yeah, yeah. And I can ask them and I can get their input. Yeah. So it, it’s like you have, like, everything’s figure-outable, you know, that kind of mentality.

Ben: Right, right. And, and it’s, yeah. And so it means digging in it means, you know, doing the research, but it also, you know, means I get benefit out of it as well, you know?

True. As I’m digging in. So learning. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Uh, so that’s, I mean, pretty [00:16:00] much everything. It sounds like it’s almost like I’m living a charmed life or whatever, but it really is just like you said, um, I’m ready. Mm-hmm. , I’ve been practicing my craft and when the doors were there, I was, I was ready to step through. It’s been very clear also when like, this is a God thing, you know, this was not anything I could have put together myself. Right. This is not anything that I could have forced together. Cuz I tried, you know, there were some times when I was working with some friends Yeah. And we said, Hey, let’s, let’s try and self-publish something and it just didn’t work out, you know, and that mm-hmm.

Okay, well that’s my plan. Yeah. Not Gods. And so we’re gonna, you know, hold on loosely and, and let go when we need to.

Rachel: But I think there’s something about that process of like trying and then realizing like, Okay. Maybe this isn’t where God wants me to go with it, but until you try it, you don’t realize that.

Right. Like you kind of have to start down the road a little bit before you kind of get that sense from the Lord though. Like, no, this is not the direction. Go this way. Like he [00:17:00] can’t, it’s kind of that idea of like, you can’t uh, turn a car unless it’s going forward, right? Yeah. And so the same thing, like if we’re so stuck, worried about making the wrong decision or am I doing what God wants me to do right now?

Is this where he wants me to go? We can almost get so stuck in, stuck in that like perfectionism cycle of like wanting to make sure I’m doing the will of God, that I don’t even start doing any of the work he’s called me to. And so I love the fact that you just kept trying and you just kept showing up and being sensitive to God’s leading in those moments.

Ben: And the other thing that comes with that is I don’t think any of that stuff was lost time. Mm-hmm. Because those were all things that built those muscles then, and that, you know, I got practice, I, you know, learned to think visually going to film school and going to the Act one writing program. Um, I mean, there’s a whole long story that goes along with that, but like I said, it was what I thought God was calling me to.

Well, God was definitely calling me to the Act one writing [00:18:00] program because it was a month later that I was writing that sample for, for George Martin. Mm. And that writing program helped me think visually. It helped me think clearly. It helped me think succinctly. And, and so like, there was definitely clear educational value that translated over into this other thing that I had no idea.

And instead of going and being a really tiny fish in a huge pond mm-hmm. I ended up being a, a mid-size fish in a, in a small pond.

Rachel: I think too, especially being a writer, like when we’re in writing programs and we’re taught to like the craft of writing a story, While we see it visually in our heads, like sometimes the, the way that you put it down on the page or the way you explain it, or the way that you use white space around the words, that’s a different skillset than story arcing for a visual representation.

Right. And so the fact that you kind of had to move out of that writerly tool box to the visual [00:19:00] toolbox and the fact that that program allowed you to do that so that you were prepared Yeah. For when it came time for storytelling in a visual format. That’s really cool. Like that’s, people don’t realize sometimes, like storytelling is the same across all the, you know, like storytelling is storytelling, but you have to understand the tool you’re using to convey the storytelling.

Now you’re, you’re currently working on a sci-fi novel and is, are you finding that it’s different to go from this world of comic book and graphic novels to like a long form?

Oh yeah.

Purely text space, medium.

Ben: Yeah. Because I mean, like you said, you, there’s like a comic book is poetry and photography and film put together because it has to, you, you only have a limited amount of space for the words on the page, but then you also have to make sure you have the action that flows and all that kind of stuff. Mm-hmm. . And so you have to think in for comic books, these steps, you know? Mm-hmm. and, and [00:20:00] where. , what action point do I want to capture and do I want the artist to capture?

And, and if I do it wrong, sometimes they’ll add the panel in, you know, or they’ll say, eh, we don’t need three panels. We can just do this in one. Um, but yeah, writing, uh, long form prose narrative is a very different, very, very different thing. It’s something I’ve, it’s, it’s not something I’m, I’m completely new to, but the publishing side is something I’m very new to.

Like I said, I, knowing, I was going to be a writer since I was able to put sentences together, you know? Mm-hmm. And so in third grade, my favorite teacher was Mrs. Barry, because I had her on Friday and she was our creative writing teacher. I don’t remember what else she taught on Friday, but I remember that, um, Mrs. Jenkins, Monday through Thursday, I, I was just very glad to have Friday. Um,

oh my goodness. That’s funny.

You know, and so that was something I, I’ve always known, I’ve always loved doing and have just always done, really, it’s just mm-hmm. constantly, you know, jotting down stories and, you know, in high school it was Star Trek fan fiction before I knew fan fiction was a [00:21:00] thing. it had been a thing long before I did that, but I didn’t know it was a thing. Oh yeah, exactly right. Um,

I know, I remember the day I discovered fan fiction too, and I was like, There’s the whole world of this, like, that’s so interesting.

Well, it was, so I was, you know, writing Star Trek fan fiction because I love Star Trek and I want to eventually write science fiction for Star Trek or whatever. I do have one legacy in Star Trek in that one of my journalism students that I had in high school 10 years ago is a writer now on the animated Star Trek Prodigy series.

Rachel: Really?

Ben: It’s super exciting for me. Like I have a thumbprint and he actually, you know, even said, you know, Mr. Avery, I, I learned so much about stuff, you know, from, you learned so much about writing from you that, and, and then he’s like, I’m working for Dreamworks now.

And then next thing I know, a year later I see on Facebook, I’m like, yeah, I, okay, I’m, I’m not writing any Adventures of Captain Kirk, but I’ve got a writer on staff who. Yeah. You know, but

But in high school I was just doing that and then I find out like that, They, they, they had [00:22:00] Star Trek fan fiction going back to before I was born, you know?

Mm-hmm. we’re talking mm-hmm. and you know, as soon as Star Trek was off the air, people were doing that and just wanting to continue that. And, um, and that’s another way to really build muscle, I think, is to, and I really value that time writing fan fiction because it was allowing me to work with stuff that already existed


and it allowed me to kind of springboard, it was almost like u using training wheels. Right. And so I had watched it on tv, I had read it, you know, read Star Trek novels since, you know, junior high. And, um, this was a way to kind of take those baby steps into writing my own narratives and


and that. So I, the fiction side, the prose fiction side has always been something that’s been a part of what I do. But this is the first thing I’ve done that, it’s first thing I’ve done in a long while, this’s been just for me. Mm-hmm. where it’s been my own idea, my own character. Not somebody saying, Hey, we need this, can you get this for us?

Mm-hmm. , or, you know, we’ve [00:23:00] got these

Rachel: characters and it’s not be a collaborative work either.

Ben: Right. It’s right. Just in my own head, and mm-hmm. . Yeah. Yeah. And so it has been freeing and nerve-wracking and exciting and stressful and, um, but I was, I really wanted to do it and mm-hmm. , I wanted to write a science fiction novel. I wanted to do that forever. And so it was, uh, NaNoWriMo, uh, a few years ago where I said, I’m gonna start this, and, and I did.

Rachel: So you started it a couple years ago in mm-hmm. Have you completed the whole story?

Ben: It’s, it’s done. I’m breaking rules, I’m breaking my own rules as far as like

Rachel: Okay, tell us what rules you’re breaking.

Ben: Well, I haven’t, no one’s read it except for me.


Like, that’s a huge rule. I, if there’s one rule I always tell everyone it’s, you need another set of eyes. Mm-hmm. , you need another set of eyes, you gotta have more eyes on this. Mm-hmm. and I had some people who started helping by, you know, doing some proofreading and things like that [00:24:00] and they just didn’t have the time to work on it.

Mm-hmm. and next thing you know, it’s like, well, I guess, I guess he’s not doing it. So , I, uh, I feel like I’ve, over the, the years since I started it, um, the last couple of times that I’ve done a, a fine tooth comb, reread, I feel like I’m a new person reading it. I don’t know if that’s counts, but . Yeah. Um, so that’s, that’s rule number one.

And I’m still, that’s where I’m like, I dunno if I should pull the trigger on this, do I just go ahead and I’m getting impatient. I wanna get it out there, you know, but at the same time, that’s, that’s a rule. And yeah, I’ve broken it.

Rachel: So, so you, it’s done. You, so you kind of said something that I think is important as a writer.

We do come to this point where we’re like, is this story just for me? Is it gonna just sit on my computer? Is it just this something that I [00:25:00] wrote to explore questions that I have or an experience I wanted to have, or a story that I just wanted to develop in my head for myself? Or do I want it to get into the hands of a reader?

At some point, we have to make that decision. And it almost sounds like you’re kind of at that, like that turning point, like you

Ben: no decision’s been made. It’s happening. Oh, it’s end the same. No, I’m doing it. Just don’t know. Okay. I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m gonna take the time to do the extra steps because it’s been so long since I started.

Rachel: Oh, okay. I see what you’re saying.

Ben: Do I follow my rule, follow the rule. I mean, it’s not just mine , right? Or do I go ahead and and do it now? I’ve got a cover that, um, it , this is the other thing I said, you know, people, we judge a book by its cover. Yeah. I don’t think my novel can possibly live up to the expectations that the cover will bring cuz it’s a beautiful cover, just gorgeous. And [00:26:00] it’s exactly what I was hoping for. Um, it’s just this very minimalist kind of a thing that, uh, is just wonderful. And I’m thinking people are gonna see this cover and they’re gonna think it’s something really special and then they’re gonna read it . Oh.

Rachel: But I love that even after all these years, like you have published with some, like you’ve worked on some things that are really, you know, very cool projects.

Even all after all these years, you’re still like, it’s that imposter syndrome. It never goes away, does it?

Ben: It it doesn’t. It doesn’t. And. In some ways it’s not a bad thing. I, it’s the artistic paradox. Where we believe that it is something worth sharing with the world.

And so we’re gonna put it out there, but at the same time, we look at it and say, but no one’s gonna like it. You know? And, and I shouldn’t say we all say that, but you know,

Rachel: I, and I think we pretty much all say that, like we’re all in that box of like, okay, this thing, I think this is really valuable, but the moment I put it out there, somebody else can tell me it’s not.

Yeah. And that’s, [00:27:00] and that’s a scary, very vulnerable place to be in.

Ben: Yeah. And I’ve, I’ve stopped looking at reviews. I, I can’t help myself. Sometimes I, because I have podcasts and I do other, other different things, but, um, for books, you know, for my graphic novel stuff, I’ve, I’ve just stopped looking at reviews altogether.

Uh, the podcast, I can’t help it because it just shows up. Yeah. And, you know, feedback on the YouTube videos, they just show up and, you know, if you ignore them, that that’s not a good thing to do because Right. You’re supposed to engage with, with people.

I quit, uh, oh, what’s the, what’s the book? Book Review, Good Reads. I quit Good Reads because I could not help myself.

I was looking at the reviews on my books on Good Reads. Someone gave kingdoms a one star or a two star review on good reads because they didn’t like the time period it took place in.

Oh my gosh.

I’m like, this is a specific time period, historical period of time. Like, if you don’t like it, don’t, don’t pick it up.

Rachel: you’re like, why? Who has the time to make those kind of comments? [00:28:00] You know, like, so like literally go and say, I didn’t like this book. Like, it was not that it was a poorly written book or a poorly done story, I just didn’t like the time period.

Ben: It’s like one, one sentence

And so I’m like, okay, I’ve gotta step away. Yeah. The, uh, the words live in my head and I, ever since I’ve been young, things stick in my head and, and the names, yeah. And the words and you know, whatever you wanna call it, self-esteem or whatever. I’ve always struggled with with that. Mm-hmm. And so even my success has been like, when I was writing for Zondervan, there was a period of time where I’m like, they’re gonna discover that I can’t write, and they’re going to, you know, shut this down. Yeah. They’d already published like half the series . Yes. And had already committed to finishing it. And Yes. It’s just, why would I even say that?

Why? Because that’s just where my head goes, where my headspace can be sometimes. And it’s, it’s a challenge for me. It’s a challenge for my wife. Mm-hmm. to be able [00:29:00] to, um, rise above that. Um, very recently I’ve been just working really hard at, um, the way I, the way I put it is, if you wanna rise up, you gotta keep your eyes up.

Rachel: Yes, yes. I was just gonna say, I think. We were like, well, why do I keep doing this? Why do I keep like doubting my ability, doubting the ability that God gave me? Like obviously people are working with you, people are coming after you asking you for, you know, projects. And I find myself doing the same thing.

Like I publish, I, you know, like I put stuff out there and I get validating comments and validating interactions. And I have people saying to me like, oh, your writing was helpful in X, Y, Z way. Right? You’re getting feedback, positive feedback from people and yet you still go, why? Like, I am a fraud. Like, they’re gonna figure it out.

Like I’m just pretending. And I think it’s a tool of the devil. I really honestly do. Like it’s a God-given ability and talent and gifting that he’s bestowed to us to steward creativity. [00:30:00] And of course Satan’s gonna wanna try to keep us from doing the thing that God designed us to do, right? Like that’s just part of it.

But it’s hard to remember that in the day-to-day when you’re kind of just feeling that intense. Like, how, like how is it that people are trusting me with this project, or really people are gonna read this? Like it’s, you know, who am I, who am I to do this, this thing. Right.

Ben: It’s been something recently that I’ve, I feel like I’ve finally kind of entered into a, a space where I kind of understand myself and I understand my relationship with the, the Myre clay and my relationship with the one who pulls me out of it and, and which I, it’s almost embarrassing for me to say that it’s taken me kind of this long to really understand. I mean, I, I’ve been a children’s pastor for eight years, but before that I was involved in children’s ministry for, I think it was 12 years, been involved in Disability ministry for 16 years.

I’ve been involved. You know, Christian comic books, like all these different [00:31:00] places of ministry where I’m teaching and I’m, and there’s been some moments where, okay, the thing I’m teaching, I’m teaching myself, like things are being revealed, but I’m like, I feel like I wasted time. But again, it’s not wasted time.

Right. You know, all those learning moments along the way are building up into like what’s needed for the moment and Mm. So it’s not like I’ve, yeah, it’s not like I’ve been just living my life in a depressed wasteland since No, no, no. On day zero. But at the same time, I feel like I’m, I’m finally kind of understanding how to deal with the, um, you know, like the, the mare clay and Yeah. And walking through and yeah. So it’s been interesting.

Rachel: And keeping your, and keeping your eyes on the one who’s created you. Yeah. And who’s tasked you of doing this, this work that he’s tasked you with?

Ben: Well, you know, and so I, like I said, those words will stick with me and the bad reviews and, and not just those, but uh, you know, other things people say, um, Someone, you know, they phrase it as, you know, you’re letting it live rent free in your, [00:32:00] in your head, you know?

Yeah. And, um, and I haven’t put this video out yet, and I don’t know, I, I don’t know if I have quite the right, uh, angle yet for myself, but there’s enough of an angle to talk about it here. And that is, um, you have those things living, rent free in your head, but then you also have the person who paid the price.

Mm. You know? And um, and that’s the one you need to keep your eyes on. And that’s the one, you know, he’s knocking out the door, you know, and so Right. He wants in, you know, and, and obviously that’s referring to that kind of opening relationship with him. When it talks about, behold, I stand at the door and knock, but, um, , you know, who are you giving the space to in, you know, you only have so much rent, you know, not so much rent, so much space in your house, you know?

Mm-hmm. , and you’ve got these people or things that are just taking up space in your, in there, that they’re freeloading belong there. It doesn’t belong there. Yeah. Um, they’re squatters. Mm-hmm. Yes. You know, and the landlord wants to spend time with you.

Rachel: Ugh. Yeah. That’s such a beautiful [00:33:00] image. I love that. That’s really powerful. Thank you for sharing that with us, because I think that’s gonna help you know, our listeners and knowing that this is a common thing. Most creatives deal with this. Yeah. You’re not alone in your, in your struggle. And keep your eyes on Jesus because he wants to be there with you.

He wants to pull you up. He wants you to, to set you on your feet and guide you along this path that he has designed you to walk though I appreciate that you shared that with us. It’s a very powerful imagery. So shifting directions just slightly. Yeah. Yeah. After we got, got some preaching in there. can’t help it, right, you’re a pastor.

Ben: No. That’s just what happens sometimes.

Rachel: So this novel that you’re, that you’ve written mm-hmm. , you have decided it’s going to be for a reader and you’ve decided to self-publish. So can you talk to us a little bit about that decision that you’ve made? Because obviously you have like a body of work behind you.

You [00:34:00] could probably pitch something to a traditional publisher and they would take notice at least because you have a somewhat of a proven record. You’ve worked with a, you know, Zondervan. So what, what kind of led to that decision?

Ben: I’m impatient. and I just want to get it out there. And here’s the other thing though.

I look at what I’ve written and I’m looking at like, who’s the market? For it. Yeah. And there’s not a big market for this. Okay. And why is, why do you say that? Well, I say that because as I was reading it the last time and enjoying it, like that’s the thing. I wrote the novel I wanted to write. I wrote the novel I wanted to read.

And so that’s great. And so, yeah, but I was reading it and I read a lot of different things. I love all sorts of different things, but one genre that I really like is old school science fiction. And as I was reading it this last time, I realized [00:35:00] this does not feel like the Martian. This does not feel like the Expanse.

This does not feel like these more,

Rachel: are you talking like more like HG Wells type? Is that more of the Uh, no, not

Ben: that old school. Okay. Okay. Uh, I’m talking more like. I’m gonna throw out some names. I’m not saying I’m in their league because these are the giants.

Rachel: You’re just saying it’s just in that vein.

Ben: Yeah. Yeah. In the vein of Azimov or, or early Arthur Clark, or even CS Lewis with his sci-fi mm-hmm. Um, there’s definitely, you know, some elements of, you know, the, the space opera that, um, that those guys didn’t necessarily get into that I’m talking about. But, um, yeah, so I mean, it, it, it hearkens back to I think, kind of the foundational things that I had read in, in junior high and in early high school, um, where it just doesn’t feel like the modern sci-fi novel mm-hmm.

So there’s that, it feels old school, which might have a, a niche, [00:36:00] might have a, you know, a market for that, but it’s not a big one. Okay. It’s also, uh, you asked me off, off mic if it was a Christian science fiction novel, right. I would say yes, conditionally. because that’s not the, you know, I, it depends on how you define, is it a Christian book or not, you know.

Rachel: Well, I was gonna say, I had a conversation, um, with an a writer just the other day. He’s writing fantasy, and we kind of got into the same question, like, is it a Christian fantasy novel? And his response was, I’m a Christian and my worldview has come out in it there. Yes. But I’m telling the story. Right. And it’s, my, the story is not gonna contradict my Christian worldview.

Ben: Right. And there are some characters in this book that have a, a Christian worldview behind them. Um, but not every character, you know? Mm-hmm. and, and it’s not even the primary character. So the primary character is something I would, I don’t know what’s going to happen with [00:37:00] him. If I ever do another book, I’d call him a pre-Christian in the sense that.

I am setting up a soft heart for him, but it’s not in this book, you know, he, he just has a conversation, you know, that kinda thing. Mm-hmm. So there is, yeah, I’m a Christian. I’ve written the book. I’ve not written it. Like some of my stuff actually does start with the message. Capital M this is what I’m going to say to the world.

Um, and it has the grand thesis statement and I’m gonna write a story that, that supports that. Um, and I have started some of my work like that. This is not one that started like that. This is one that started with an idea. I actually started with two different ideas that when I sat down for NaNoWriMo and I was like, I’m bringing ’em together mm-hmm.

And I’m gonna, um, take these, this one idea that came from something that a friend of mine drew. And that really struck me. Like I wanna know the story behind that. Mm-hmm. Um, and then the other thing was a, a story where I was like, I wanna do my Star Trek. [00:38:00] You know, what would my Star Trek be? What would my firefly be?

Yeah. Where I’ve got my own little cast of characters, right. Who live on this Your own world spaceship. Yeah. And they go around and they, they do their things. And I kind of pulled those two things together and strip them both down, built them both back up. And that was, uh, so that’s kinda where the story came from.

But, so that’s where I, at the same time we were talking about marketing and, and you know, it’s, I think a little too Christian for the secular market, but not necessarily Christian enough. Some for the, the Christian market, although the Christian sci-fi market. , uh, I don’t know if they’re

Rachel: really anybody like really just publishing Christian sci-fi.

Like, I don’t know of anybody. But maybe you do. Cuz that’s more what you read.

Ben: There are a couple, yes. Okay. But I don’t think they can be interested in what I’ve got and I’m, I’m speaking for them, you know? Yeah. I’m putting words in the mouth. I know. Maybe they would do Right. You know, and if they want to hear my pitch, I’ll, I’ll pitch it to ’em.

But I’m [00:39:00] impatient. I don’t wanna have to wait another 18 months Yes. To go through either getting an agent, working with a publisher, and then I want to get it out there. Now. I, I really do.

Rachel: It’s hard. I think that writers, um, you know, we sometimes we set out with this idea of like, oh, I’m gonna get, I wanna go the traditional publishing route.

And it’s not until. You know, we spend time, we spend time researching the project we’re gonna do, we spend time writing the project we’re gonna do, and then now we have to pitch the project that we’re gonna do. Math can take like anywhere from a year to five years before you even get picked up. And then it’s another two years typically.

Like I was just at a writing conference and they were saying about a two year turnaround. Right now, I’m pretty much any book out there unlike the

Ben: Oh, lowballing with 18 months.

Rachel: Yeah, you were They were talking about just different, different things that the pandemic has, um, has, uh, um, like with paper demand supply or supply and demand of like paper and print shops and [00:40:00] turnaround and staff and all the things, um, that has come out of that.

But, but their whole point was, you know, it does take time. And if you know, if you’re like, if they’re, if you’re in the same position you are, if you have a smaller niche and if you don’t wanna wait, if this is something you wanna serve your readership now. Then you might wanna go the indie route.

Ben: And here’s, here’s the other thing with that is, and this is something that happened even when I was working with Zondervan, not so much with Marvel.

Um, but that’s a different story because Marvel has a single distribution point, which is the comic book shops in the United States. That’s right. Those are the sales numbers that matter. Yeah. And there’s a couple different dis distributors now, there used to be a monopoly in distribution where there was just one, you got into diamond distributions previews catalog that went out to every single comic book shop in the United States.

Yes. And you [00:41:00] know, they would order every single Marvel comic. Yes. They may not order you as an independent comic. Uh, and we even got featured in that thing with one of my books, and it’s still, we canceled the, the book after three issues because Wow. It just wasn’t sustaining the numbers for the print run.

Yeah. Um, So comic books in that sense were a little bit different. But with, with Zondervan, uh, the, I I needed to do self-promotion. Mm-hmm. Really? Yeah. Even

Rachel: back, even. Cause this would’ve been, when did those books come out? I like, like more than like five years ago. Right? It’s over a decade ago. Yeah. Yeah. I was gonna say it’s a while ago. Cause I remember when they came out. I think.

Ben: So what happened was they did a real big push at the beginning. Okay. And the, the launch point in the summer was huge. Okay. And it was the only book that they end capped, uh, in their catalog, um, at, in the, the mom and pop shops and everything. Um, [00:42:00] and

Rachel: now, was it Zondervan or Zondervan kids.

Ben: Zonder Kids. But it was still, you know, at the time and I made things awkward for my dad. He was an area rep. For Zondervan. And so he’s going into the stores and saying, Hey, I’ve got these books. Yeah. That is my last name and yes, it is my son, but that’s not why I’m pushing these right. When the publisher was thinking about this, and so the, the children’s editor was in a meeting and my dad was in the meeting with them and, um, they said, yeah, Larry’s son is a writer. I know everyone says they’re writer, but he actually is someone we’re gonna be working with.

That’s funny. Yeah.

But anyway, after that initial push, they changed children editors. And so the children’s editor after that, uh, still honored the contract, allowed us to finish out the eight volumes, um, that we did for each series, 150 page volumes. So it was still financial risk for them.


But they weren’t promoting it after that point. And, and so it became this kind of thing where I’m like, if I [00:43:00] want this to sell, I’m, I’m self p promoting. Yeah. And I’m not good at that. I’m not. Um, yeah.

Rachel: And so it’s hard. It’s hard. It’s like a whole nother set skillset.

Ben: So, and that’s another thing where I, I’m hearing, not that I have experience, but I’m hearing that even if you’re being published by a publisher, you’re doing the legwork.

Rachel: Yeah. Unless you’re, unless your platform is larger and they can anticipate sales coming out of the legwork that they’re doing, you’re not gonna get very much support marketing and publishing or promotions wise. Um, which is, feels counterintuitive cuz like, well if my platform’s large already, then why do I need the support? Necessarily, you know, it’s kind of like, Hmm.

Ben: That’s another piece. Why though, I’m, I’m saying I’m just gonna go this route if I’m gonna be self-promoting anyway. Right. Let’s cut out the middle man. Um, yes. And there’s not, there’s not the cost involved that used to be involved in [00:44:00] self-publishing and

Rachel: Because it’s print on demand now. Right? Right. You’re not doing unless you go the hybrid route and you pay them. But yeah, you really don’t have to.

Ben: Well, in my experience with that was, you know, with comic books, it’s all graphic, you know, and so it’s full color printing.

I was just to say, that’s expensive.

You know, make a certain number to get the print run, you know, and it’s a lot of money to, to self-publish and, right. We lost money, self-publishing comic books because I. Again, it wasn’t lost time, but it was definitely lost money. But putting those things out there mm-hmm. created stepping stones to get noticed and you know, like all the stuff that I detailed already.

But, um, yeah. And so again, it’s, well, financially I don’t have to go and print a thousand copies Right. That are just gonna sit in my closet. Which I, I moved a year and a half ago, or almost two years ago now, and I ended up tossing eight boxes.

Rachel: [00:45:00] Oh, man. Did, did your heart just like break ?

Ben: No, because they were heavy and they were just keeping space in my closet.

And there was, it was issue one of a three issue series that we never printed. Issue two, I, I wrote issue two, but no drawings came out of it. Issue three was an idea, but we knew what it, we, what it was going to be, but issue one didn’t sell. Mm. And so I had, you know, however many hundreds of copies and I was just, okay, I guess we’re gonna, we’re gonna toss these.

I recycled ’em, right? I didn’t throw ’em away. Okay. I recycled them. Um, I feel bad. I made my dad and we were moving and we brought them to the new house, but I said, dad, we’re just gonna put these in the back of your truck. Can you just take ’em over to recycling center and just drop ’em in there and just drop ’em out?

Just drop him off. Just make sure that my name’s not, oh, no, my name is on every single thing there, so, yeah. But,

Rachel: yep. That’s funny. Yes, it is a different world. Self-publishing is a [00:46:00] different world now, and so I understand your decision to say, you know what, let’s, it’s a a particular niche. There’s not that many publishers doing it.

But even if I went with a publisher, I’d probably have to do a lot of marketing promotion myself. So why not cut out that middleman? It’s not costly to do self-publishing. You already have a cover.

Ben: which, That’s the other thing is I’m going cheap on everything. Yeah. So that cover looks like I spent, I wanna say 10 times, maybe even, no, not 10 times, 15 times more

Rachel: than I actually, you know, I am like, what does this cover look like? I’m so intrigued at this.

Ben: I mean, it’s on my Facebook page. I can, I can send it to you. Okay.

Rachel: Yeah. I’ll have to look it up. That’s funny. So, but yeah, exactly. If you, if it’s looking at that bottom line of saying like, okay, what is my goal? What and how can I accomplish that goal in a way that’s profitable?

Profitable so that I can continue doing the work that I’m doing. [00:47:00]

Ben: And, and the other thing, I look at this as it’s a grand experiment. Mm. I’ve never written anything like this before. Um, I’ve never published, I mean, the whole thing is kind of this, I’m doing this for me, I’m doing this mm-hmm. and, uh, if, if nothing else, the, the one thing I am gonna do, again, keeping it on the cheap, but I am planning to set up my own, um, llc.

Okay. Uh, that’s really just for me to be able to, um, streamline the money behind it. And I’m going to also use that for some of the podcasting money that I have coming in. Um, we, one of the pod the audio podcasts that I have, we have a Patreon and I’m gonna use that to bring the money outta Patreon and send it out to some of the actors that we have that we’re working with.

Rachel: You’re starting to think more like holistically. Mm-hmm. , like, this is my business. Yeah. And this is what’s, this is just another source of revenue. Is this one particular project?

Ben: And this way, I’m, I can keep everything clean. [00:48:00] Yes. And, you know, pull if I need to, but mm-hmm, um, you know, pay myself out of that if I need to.

But, uh, I’m also really looking very closely at doing an anthology book. Um, okay. I have a great idea for it. Uh, and I’ve got some writer friends who they love the idea too. Mm-hmm. , and I think this can be really cool. Well, let’s, if we do this with an llc, shell then that way again, I can, you know, if, if we do a Kickstarter or something to pay the writers or if we do something else, I don’t know how it’s all gonna work out, but just the idea is, um, stepping back into what I was started with, you know, 15.

You know, 16, 17 years ago with, we created an L L C for self-publishing comic books. Mm-hmm. . And so kind of almost looking back at that, and I don’t have any dreams or designs, uh, where this will be the big Christian science fiction publisher. Um, I don’t think I’m gonna be able [00:49:00] to replicate or, or do what other people are already doing.

Rachel: You and these other authors are like, we wanna tell these really great sci-fi stories.

We really wanna do well with it, and this is how, let’s, let’s band together and do that well together. Mm-hmm.

Ben: and I, and the main thing for me is that community. Mm-hmm. And actually when we started the, the publishing with comic books, we called it community comics. Oh, cool. Because it was about coming together in community and, and working together on projects.

And one of the things that happened was me and the other three guys who were on the actual like organization side of things. We got headhunted away to Zondervan , so, okay. But Buddy Bud, he ended up being the line Editor. My friend Sherwin ended up being the graphics, uh, I dunno what you would call his role, but he, he did all of the, um, the title, uh, titling and he did all of the, um, you know, making sure all the covers [00:50:00] look good.

And he, so he’s basically an artistic manager, I think. Um, and then I was doing writing on a few, and so we basically got head hunted from our own company, . That’s fun. Yes. That’s funny. Um, but yeah, I, I just feel like there is a space for it. We, you know, one of the things I’m doing on my YouTube channel, which is an intentional thing, I have the podcast, strangers and Aliens. We’ve been around for 10 years, 11 years. Um, and it’s about science fiction, fantasy, and Christianity. Mm-hmm. And we are almost 400 episodes now. Wow. Uh, and so

Rachel: that’s impressive. It takes a lot to stay committed to a podcast that long.

Ben: It’s been fun. It’s been work, but, uh, but I started doing YouTube as well along with that.

Mm-hmm. , which was a very intentional thing to do because I know that there’s a lot of stuff on YouTube about writing mm-hmm. and about writing science fiction, about writing Christian fiction. Um, I found a few people who were doing reviews of Christian science fiction and I’m like, well, I [00:51:00] want to connect readers with Christian science fiction.

Mm-hmm. And so I started. Doing one of the things on that YouTube channel is, is it worth reading? And Oh, you know, because people look at Christian fiction and say, yeah, it’s Christian fiction, eh, it’s not worth reading.

Rachel: Yeah, exactly. You know, which is so sad, but yes,

Ben: and so I’m not gonna review anything that’s not worth reading

Right. But, um, but it is, it’s every few weeks or so. I, I get one of those out. I started with CS Lewis’s Space Trilogy, and then I’ve also done a couple, um, well, one more modern one and Okay. Um, and then yeah, but I’m, I’m, I’m trying to say, you know, there’s stuff worth reading out there. Uh, but again, that’s building my brand.

Yeah. And I’m building the brand of Ben Avery as christian Science Fiction. And so when I do drop my book, I don’t know how to promote it on my page without it looking like I’m promoting a book. You know, well,

Rachel: you got it. Like, people aren’t gonna know there’s a book to read [00:52:00] unless you tell ’em there’s a book to read.

Ben: Right. So, but that’s an intentional point for me, is to say, okay, this is a way to build the brand. Strangers and Aliens, the podcast, I just recorded a, an episode with one of my co-hosts where I pretended he wasn’t a co-host because I was interviewing him about his Kickstarter with his graphic novel, you know?

Okay. Um, and so just using those different spaces that I can use, I don’t have a huge platform, but what I have, I’m, I’m give a shot. Right. Let’s see what happens. You know, and

Rachel: What I think is valuable in what you’re, what you just said, and what I would want somebody to pay attention to right now is that you’re thinking not in just how do I market one product? you’re saying, how do I build a brand around what I wanna accomplish? I want Christians, or I want people to know about Christian sci-fi.

You wanna connect people to stories that have that Christian worldview, undertone to it. And so like that’s your goal. That’s your message. That’s how you’re serving people. [00:53:00] And so you’re thinking broader than just, how do I market this one book?

You’re saying, how do I connect people with this bigger goal? And that might be through my podcast, that might be through this podcast that might be doing a book review review that might be publishing a book that does that e any way that you come at it. But your goal at the end of the day is to connect people to those stories.

And so I think that’s really an important. Distinction that not every writer realizes when they go into, how do I market, how do I build a platform, how do I, how do I do all these things? They’re thinking just for the book. And it’s like, you can’t do that. If you wanna be in this for the long game, if you wanna be sustainable, if you wanna have an actual writing career, you have to think about yourself and your brand and what your brand is trying to accomplish.

And then think about books and podcasts and all those things as different revenue streams, different sources of income for your brand. So I think that’s really wise that you [00:54:00] are intentionally, strategically doing that. Yeah.

Ben: You have to think bigger than just that book, because if that, if that book is all you have, then people are gonna get tired of seeing it too.

Like that’s mm-hmm. and Yeah. I, I feel like it’s a brave new world. Yep. And there are ways that you can get in front of people that you had never been able to do before. Um. But you have to think long game too. Right? Because I, I find it so strange when I’ll see someone and they just, here’s my book, buy it, and then that’s it.

Yeah. And it’s just, wait a minute, what is happening with that book? You know? Right. And, um, and so I’m trying to figure out what are some ways I, and I don’t have everything all figured out. Again, this is the grand experiment

Rachel: I was gonna say, but I don’t think any of us really do, and the world of online marketing changes so rapidly that sometimes it feels like you just start to figure something out and then it changes. And you’re like, oh, crap, now I get, I gotta figure out the thing now. Um, but I think that that’s [00:55:00] part of being an entrepreneur, right? Is trying things, figuring out what feels authentic to you and your brand, and then just keep doubling down on the things that are working and experimenting with the things that are new and pitching the things that don’t work for you.

Ben: Yeah. I like what you said though, staying authentic, like I


I think it’s really important to be genuine and authentic and, uh, again, actually when I was talking with my friend y uh, yesterday, the Evan, my, my co-host, and it was, we kind of hammered in on, you know, when you’re working on a project, you need to, it needs to be something that you’re, you are genuinely passionate about.

Yep. And you know, that you, you actually care about, you know, and there needs to be passion, there needs to be talent, and there needs to be intentionality and there needs to be, um, genuineness and Right. Yeah. Right. So true. You’ve gotta, you gotta care.

Rachel: You gotta care, you gotta care, you gotta care, you gotta care about the other person on the [00:56:00] receiving end of the work that you do.

Ben: Yeah. Yeah. You gotta care about your work, you gotta care about yourself and you gotta care about your audience and mm-hmm. and who they are, you know, they’re, they’re people, you know? Yes. And I, one of the things I used to say, cuz there’s a lot of really bad Christian comics out there, and back in the day when we were self-publishing, the idea was, let’s find the cream of the crop.

Let’s help, you know, build up. Then also the people who aren’t the cream of the crop, how can we help them and encourage them? Right. And the one thing I would always say, and I would still say this about any, any artistic expression, is that there is someone out there who’s going to appreciate it and there is someone out there who is going to be touched by it.

Mm-hmm. it might be your mom, you know? Yes. Who’s going to be touched by it, it might. You know, you know, Tolkin started The Hobbit as a story for his children, you know? Right. And if it never was anything more than that, that was a successful story. Right. Because his children got it and loved it and held them to the [00:57:00] details of it and said, wait, his hat was blue.

You know? Yeah. When you were talking about before, and, you know, so even if the Hobbit hadn’t become one of the greatest novels of all time, in my opinion, um, it would, it would’ve been a success. I might argue if you on that one, but I love The Hobbit so much. It’s, it’s in my top 10. Okay. It’s in the bottom five of the top 10.

The kind of cycles around those top five don’t move. But, um, actually that’s not entirely true Till We had Faces just last time I read it, punched this way to the top and said, I’m number one and they’re not moving.

Really? What, what book?

Until we have faces, CS Lewis

Rachel: Until We Have Faces. I have not read that one by him.

Ben: Oh, you have to read that book. I, if nothing else, because it’s CS Lewis that you haven’t read before, you know? Yeah. Um, but it is beautiful in the last I’ve read it, ev I call it a decade book. It’s a book to read every decade and Okay. I read it twice in the last decade. Once is because I read it for this decade and then I read it for our podcast.

And [00:58:00] the time when I read it for our podcast, I, I found myself, and this has only happened to me once. This is the only time where I actually found tears Oh. As I was reading. Wow. Because it just, it just touched me so much. It was just so beautiful. And. You know, when I read it in high school, I liked it.

Right? Because hey, CS Lewis and it’s fantasy, right? And it’s not for kids, right. , right. You know, um, cause that

Rachel: then yeah, I feel that way about some books. Like I, you know, I’ve read the Great Gasby in, um, high school and absolutely hated it. Hated it with passion. I was like, this is the stupidest book ever.

How did this guy become like, considered like so great, blah, blah, blah. And then I reread it as an adult and I was like, oh, okay. This is a commentary on humanity and it’s sta in a state of being. I’m like, okay. It’s a little bit deeper than I took, than I got as a high schooler. And I think sometimes, you know, we, we make high schoolers read these classics and then they don’t go back and [00:59:00] revisit them.

And I just think. A loss for them. It is. Right. It is. Because you’re like, there’s just so much richness that comes out of storytelling that when you reread something at a different stage in life, you’re like, oh my gosh, that’s hitting a little bit different. I mean, it happens when I listen to books with my kids listening to this, you know, listening to the Chronicles of Narnia for the second time as an adult.

Totally different experience than when I read them as a kid, you know? Yep. So, I, I get what you, you’re saying, and to find books where you feel like you wanna revisit them each decade, that’s, that’s priceless when you find that kind of a book.

Ben: Yeah. And till we have faces. Yeah. I, I can go on forever about

Rachel: well, as on that note, we’re I, I think that’s a perfect time for us to kind of wrap things up.

And on that note, I wanna ask you what kind of advice you have for either somebody who wants to, I guess maybe two questions for the person who wants to get into, like, comic books, graphic novels, like a [01:00:00] writer who wants to get into that world, what advice do you have for them? And then just for a creative writerly person dealing with this world that we live in as writers in this publishing industry and this online entrepreneurial faith, what advice do you have for them?

Ben: Uh, so on the comic books side, especially if you wanna be a writer, I would say, um, was it throw Mama from the Train where he says, always be writing or something like that. A writer writes, always, that’s what it is, I think. Okay. Um, just, you gotta, you gotta try it. Uh, one thing that’s going to help you is write a script and then try drawing your script even if you can’t draw. Oh, okay. Because I did that, I did that 24 hour challenge where it’s, it’s one page every hour for 24 straight hours. And that was another thing that just kind of shifted my mindset when I realized, and I was trying to pace things out myself.

Hmm. And, and do things with, with that I was, uh, it just really went a [01:01:00] long way in helping me communicate with my artist. Mm-hmm. Now the other thing you have to remember is every artist needs a different kind of script. And so you are, when you’re writing a script, it is a letter to that artist. It is specific to that artist.

Uh, You could write a generic script that any artist could pick up, and it would probably still work out okay. But eventually you’re, if you have a relationship with that artist, you’re gonna start learning how to write to them, write for them, and, and that creates some of the best work. Now, the absolute best work is going to be the person who can draw and write, because what’s up here is immediately what’s on, on the page.

Right? But when you have a good, uh, symbiotic relationship with an artist, it, it’s, it’s a wonderful thing. And like I said, I’ve had some great, great artists that I work

Rachel: with. I just got this thought in my head. I’m like, what if we writers who are writing like novels and or short, it doesn’t matter, text based writing.

What if we thought of it as a letter to our reader? The way that you’re [01:02:00] describing it as a letter to the artist, like, here, I’m gonna explain it well enough that you can visualize it and put it down in paper. What if we approach it the same way for our reader? I’m going to do a. Find it like, I’m gonna do such a great job explaining this to you in a way that you can experience it.

Like what if we approach it that way? I think we would do a much better job if we kept our reader in the forefront of our mind of like, how do I explain this well for them so they can truly experience what it is that I’m experiencing in my head? Such fails. Very good. Very good advice right there.

Ben: Well, because when you’re writing a novel, you are creating, you’re allowing the, the reader to be the director of the movie. Mm-hmm. , you know, you’re giving stage directions, you’re giving emotional beats, but true your reader is the one. And that’s where, you know, the Lord of the Rings, uh, Peter Jackson with Lord of the Rings, not Hobbit, but with Lord of the Rings.

He created what I saw in my head mm-hmm. , and he did so well with it [01:03:00] that it’s like, I feel like I’ve seen this before because he translated it so well, right to the screen, you know? I agree. I don’t think he ruined the experience. There’s been some other movies where I’m like, ah, it’s ruined now because I can’t help but picture that actor.

Yes. Um, fortunately the Hobbit trilogy did not ruin the Hobbit for me, so I’ll just leave it there.

That’s good.

But, um, but yeah. And, and so that, that is what you’re doing though in a lot of ways. It’s, you are creating Yeah. Stage directions, whether it’s internal monologue, emotion, stage directions, or whether it’s, you know, actual action. You know, set pieces or

Rachel: whatever, but Oh, true. Yeah. So true. So what advice would you give to the creative, the writer, that’s where the person who’s doing this work that God has called them to,

Ben: again, I would say, you know, a writer writes always or whatever. Yeah. Um, but at the same time, you, you gotta, again, build those muscles, get better at it.

You always can learn more. That’s something I [01:04:00] would always say is you can, you can always get better. Mm-hmm. , you’re never gonna hit a point where you can say, I’m the perfect writer. Right. No one can hit that point because it’s, there’s not a golden standard. There’s always growth available. Um, I would say always get another set of eyes on your book ,

Rachel: and we’re gonna end this and you’re gonna be like, okay, who’s gonna have the second set of eyes in my book? Aren’t you ?

Ben: Yeah. Am I gonna have to wait another two months now to sit on this book? But maybe it’s, maybe it’s for the best if I do that right? Yeah.

Rachel: But it might be, but you know, two months is like, I, I say give yourself a deadline and then work back from it. So set your deadline for when you want the book to release and then work back from it.

Ben: I just gotta find that person, you know? Yeah. Well

Rachel: I think if you set the deadline, if you set the deadline, you’ll find the person . That’s my theory.

Ben: Well, we’ll see , maybe I’ll come back on and, and talk about all the mistakes that I made and if they worked or not.

Rachel: With, there we go, all the rules you broke, and whether or not they paid off[01:05:00]

Ben: Like I said, I’m just so impatient. And that’s honestly though, that’s everyone who I’ve talked to. I’m saying, you have to do this. Get another set of eyes. Whenever I say that, a lot of times they’re impatient and that’s why they don’t do it. But then I’m reading their book and I’m like, there’s so many typos in this book. Yes. And, or they’re, you know, I don’t understand what this means, or mm-hmm. .

Rachel: Yeah, . You gotta get that feedback because you don’t, you don’t. It’s true. Don’t, it’s true. You don’t like, we’re, so we, we read what we think should be on the page. Right when we’re rereading our work.

Ben: And the other thing I used to do, and I haven’t done this, but it’s a novel, so it’s so long, is I used to read everything backwards.

Rachel: Yeah. It’s hard when it’s a novel. I agree. It’s like, and especially like, you’ll, you’ll find that you’re like, first couple of chapters are really well polished because you can get through them and reread them frequently, but then when you get to that messy middle, they get, it gets messy because you, it’s harder to frequent it

Ben: with, with [01:06:00] comic scripts, it was very easy for me and I, I, I mean that literally, not read it backwards, but read every sentence in reverse order.

Mm. So you’re taking every sentence out of context. Yes. And does it make sense? You know, and since I already know the context from having written it before, it is the kind of thing where, okay, does this sentence work? Is it, is it structured well and does it. The tone of what I’m setting for the, and then right by go going backwards though, it takes it out, like I said, out of context enough that you’re approaching it as a new thing and Right.

So, but with a novel, I can’t, I can’t imagine doing that with, you know, however many That’s,

that’d be rough.

Thousands of sentences and so, yeah. Yeah. But the other thing I would say as an encouragement, especially even on the business side, would be, um, like I was saying before, and that’s that, you know, this artistic expression, this creative drive, God’s given it to us and whether he’s given it to us to [01:07:00] put it out into the void or whether he is given it to us to express something that helps us to, you know, just work through something.

Mm-hmm. I mean, you know, like a dream, you know, and Right. A lot, they say dreams. Are you working through things in your sleep that mm-hmm. , you know, whether it’s different fears or, or whatever it might be. Right. Um, You know, and sometimes writing is, is, you know, therapeutic or whatever, or whether it is like something where you’re like, I gotta share this with the world.

I got a story to tell. Uh, I would say, you do have a story to tell. Hmm. You do have a creation to make. You know, and, and that’s an element of being made in the image of God is we serve a creative God. This is from the beginning of our podcast, like from our first episode we talked about we serve a creative and one of the ways that we are like him, that’s not a moral thing. , you know, we’re like following in Jesus’ footsteps, you know? Um, right. This is not a moral imperative that [01:08:00] everyone must do, but I think it is something that everyone does do. Yes. We do create and we do build, whether it’s with Lego or whether it’s, you know, just telling jokes with our friends or whatever we do, create and story is so important.

And so if you are there and you are listening and you say, I’ve got a story to tell. Yeah, you do. And you have a story to share, and you have a value to the world. And so whether you are self-publishing on the smallest possible scale, or whether you are publishing on the largest scale, there is someone out there who needs to hear what you have to say and amen.


Even if, if it’s a book that gets all one star reviews because nobody likes the time period that you are writing about . Um, There’s somebody out there, and it may be mom, it may be your spouse, it may be your kid. It may be just some weird rando on the internet who happens across this thing. Um, yeah.

So [01:09:00] if nothing else, I hope that you’re encouraged. I would say be encouraged, not. I hope you’re encouraged. Be encouraged. I’m telling you, this is the imperative. Yes. Be encouraged. God loves you. God’s given you a story. God’s given you creative, uh, a creative, uh, drive and use it. Use it. Use it. And so I don’t know if that’s business or if that’s,

Rachel: I think it has to be both, right?

like we have to, we have to hold, we have to hold to that truth because at the end of the day, we do the work we do. We try to be wide wise stewards of this creativity that he’s given us and make good business decisions. But at the end of the day, he’s the one that brings about the results and the outcome of it.

And so we have to hold, hold true to that truth that he’s given us the story and it’s our, we’re just called to be obedient in telling it. Right. We’re just called to be obedient and we have to kind of hold truth to that truth.

Ben: God loves [01:10:00] you and He’s given us a gift of creativity. So have fun with it. And I’m saying all these things, these are all things I struggle with too, you know? Yeah. And so it’s not, it’s not that I’ve got it all figured out. Maybe I do have it all figured out and I just can’t act on it, but Mm. Either way. No

Rachel: either way, it’s, I important to remember.

Well, thank you Ben, so much for being on the podcast today. I really, I really do appreciate all the wisdom you’ve shared with us, all the encouragement you shared with us, and just the openness and honesty you’ve, um, you’ve shared about your journey as a writer. And, um, I just, I really do value the fact that you willingly came on and, and shared those things with us so that we can be encouraged in the work that we do.

Ben: Yeah, no, it’s fun. I love talking about this stuff. I, like I said, I can go for hours, but , I don’t have enough time. .

Rachel: Well, I do appreciate, maybe you’ll have to come back on later on and tell us all the things that you did wrong and, and yeah, and how the, how it went for you in publishing your first novel. [01:11:00] And for you, the listener today, thank you for being here with us.

Join us next week as we continue to talk about the business of Christian Fiction. Bye.


Connect With Ben

Connect with Rachel

Subscribe to Rachel’s Youtube Channel 

Connect with Rachel:



Now What?

Check out my RESOURCE page for Fiction writers. I’m adding new resources to it often, so make sure you check it out!

Subscribe to the Podcast

By subscribing, you allow each episode to be downloaded straight to your phone which makes sure you never miss an episode! 

Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Gmail
  • Yahoo Mail
  • Print Friendly

Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!

I help Christian fiction writers figure out how they can make an impact and an income from their storytelling while keeping rest a priority. 

You can learn more about how I’m in your corner here.

And you can learn more about my personal journey here.

One last thing, if you’re looking for a bit more rest in your life, be sure to check out the Rest & Reflect guided journal.

Share with a Friend

Pin It on Pinterest